Tuesday, November 24, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 47 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“We’re just really glad to be open again, and so are our clients.”
- Carmellia Saretzky  
- on the Food Bank reopening   
on main street Blairmore   

 

Looking Back - John KinnearSo it has finally come to the point where America is going to try and mete out formal justice to the surviving 9-11 conspirators. The Obama administration announced Friday, November 13 that it would prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, in a Manhattan courtroom, a decision that has ignited some pretty serious political debate. The decision was announced by the Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.
Most think that attacks on democracy are a fairly recent phenomenon. What I know as a historian is that terrorism  has its own profound history. Consider for instance the following:
 The Attorney General of the United States said it was nothing less than “a gigantic plot to overthrow the capitalist system.” The Chamber of Commerce in New York described it as “an act of war.” Having read these statements you are probably assuming they were made shortly after that ruthless and cowardly attack on New York on September 11, 2001.
They were in fact made some 89 years earlier after what some historians describe as: “the first modern terrorist event”. Thursday, September 16, 1920 a powerful dynamite bomb filled with heavy cast-iron slugs blew up at the intersection of Broad and Wall Streets in Lower Manhattan. Just after noon that day, as hundreds of workers poured onto Wall Street for their lunchtime break, a horse-drawn cart packed with that deadly payload exploded in a spray of metal and fire, turning the busiest corner of this financial center into a war zone. It killed thirty-nine people and hundreds more lay wounded, making the Wall Street explosion the worst terrorist attack to that point in U.S. history. Like the Trade Center victims most were office workers!
Like those hijacked jets, that bomb was placed in a strategic place at a critical time when the Treasury, Commerce and the J.P. Morgan buildings were in the middle of a working day. The site was chosen for its symbolic value with the intent of: “seriously injuring as many persons, regardless of station, as possible.”
Also like the Trade Center tragedy many of the casualties wound up at the nearby St. Vincent and Bellevue Hospitals as a result of that terribly familiar aftermath of shattered glass raining down on passersby.
That horse-drawn carriage was driven: “into the heart of America” by what is generally accepted to be an Italian born anarchist by the name of Luigi Galleani.
This bizarre event was prefaced by an ugly and more concerted attack on June 2, 1919 in which bombs were set off almost simultaneously in seven eastern U.S. cities including Boston, Pittsburgh and New York.
 
Most were aimed at high-level government people by the anarchists whose manifesto claimed “we will destroy, to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.”
Beverly Gage, an author who based her December 2008 book on her doctoral thesis about these events, said that after the September 16th explosion Americans realized that: “there was this new kind of violence in their world. They sensed that things had changed, that there was this rupture.”
The Unites States reacted to this Wall Street attack with powerful anti-immigrant legislation that targeted Eastern and Southern Europeans, Italians and “especially Jews who may have been tainted by Bolshevism.” Probably the most disturbing thing I came across in this story was a statement made by, of all papers, The Washington Post! They called for a national “cleansing” insisting that: “the alien scum from the cesspools and sewers of the Old World (had) polluted the clear spring of American democracy”. Now isn’t that just the scariest statement you ever read?
This kind of ugly racist backlash has surfaced time and time again in our history. The misdirected anger and paranoia that caused misguided officials to deport, imprison and otherwise harass immigrants in the past has no place in the enlightened new melting pot of races we find ourselves in these days in North America.  The racist brush used to paint nationalities like the Japanese and the Italians during World War ll was proven to be an indiscriminate and cruelly unfair one. We need to prove to the world, once and for all, that we have risen above this petty and narrow mindset by standing just as firmly against this type of behavior as we purport to stand against the mindless blight of terrorism that has infested our world.
I will forever remember the moment the news came to me about the collision of the first airliner into the Trade Center I was mortified. When I heard of the second collision I remember turning to a co-worker and saying, as many more must have said at the same time:”the world is forever changed by this, nothing will ever be the same.”
We now go about our business nationally and internationally in a very different way. To my mind the democratic world is like a sea anemone that has been prodded by an alien source. It has retracted in uncertainty but like the anemone we will inevitably re-open our tentacles and return to our posture as free and open societies, arms open and embracing all those who seek our way of life.
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   Volume 79 - Issue 47 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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