I am not afraid of anthrax; I am afraid of driving, second-hand smoke, AIDS, prostate cancer, smallpox, pneumonia, police brutality, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and people who consider L. Ron Hubbard a prophet.
Of all the things my paranoid mind fears, anthrax is really, really low on the list. Sure, it turns your brain to Jell-O and has a 90 percent fatality rate. Sure, it may have been sold to terrorist organizations who have the capacity to turn it into a weapon. But AIDS, which has a fatality rate of 99.9 percent, will force you into celibacy and make bedsores sprout on your ass.
I suppose every time human beings discover a new and interesting way of dying, people are afraid of it for a while. For now, we all have to become accustomed to the great, lurking evil of terrorist murderers coming in the night and spraying our fields with VX or setting off backpack-sized nuclear bombs in our harbors – but it will pass. Terrorism will scare people for a few more months, until the thought of it prevents them from enjoying true, unhindered consumerism, at which point it will be pushed back into a vast and uninteresting catalog of ways to die that the majority of people never experience. Death by terrorist attack will take the place of death by killer bees as the 1,412th most likely way to die.
Why am I not I more afraid? I have faith in the universality of human incompetence.
Terrorists aren’t perfect. They will fuck up. Some greedy colonel in the al-Qaeda network will sell out to NBC for a weekly talk show in exchange for the name and location of every terrorist currently operating in the world. Then, America will have them all extradited to Florida to face criminal charges and, due to an FBI blunder, we will be forced to let them all go. But the sunny Florida weather will make the terrorists realize that life only sucks when you live in a hole in the side of a mountain in the middle of the desert at the ass-end of the world – namely Afghanistan – and that they were only frustrated because they had forgotten what breasts looked like.
American corporatism will win again. The great white plague will thrive once more.
We will take over Israel and set up the West Gaza Strip Mall. George Dubya will declare Sept. 11 World Trade Center Day, and everyone will dress up like their favorite CEO and exchange shares of stock.
Every year or two, an overzealous terrorist will kill 10 people at a McDonald’s in some place people don’t care about, like Lompoc or Stockton or the Midwest, and for a brief moment all of America will remember that scary day when metal birds came from the sky and blew a hole in the New York skyline.
Then, after a few nostalgic seconds, we will all return to eating Wendy’s mechanically at the UCen and try to remember what we did the weekend before.
Sean Corbin is a senior English major.