Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:53 PM
The city of Washington D.C. got lucky yesterday when it was revealed that the FBI had stopped a possible plot to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies. Commentator Marc Acito knows what these close calls feel like — he's been through two brushes with terrorism.
Related ArticlesAlleged Terror Plot: 'Brazen And Bizarre'
Two Iranians are accused of planning to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S.U.S. Drawn Into Long-Running Iran-Saudi Feud
The U.S. is not likely to strike Iran with force but will use other means to isolate the country.
Marc Acito is the author of Attack of the Theater People.
The terrorist plot by an Iranian-American used car salesman trying to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. doesn't have anything to do with Christmas trees. But as I watched this bizarre story unfold, it seemed to.
Ten years ago on Sept. 11, I was in Portland, Ore., my home since graduating college in 1990. But I grew up in New Jersey, so, I spent the entire day on the phone obsessively reaching out to friends and family who lived and worked in lower Manhattan.
Something tragic had happened "at home" and I felt like I should have been there for it. I felt out of synch as I heard Portlanders say how relieved they were to be out of harm's way. I like being alive as much as the next guy, but it bummed me out that I had made a "safe" choice in my life; that I lived in a city too irrelevant to be attacked.
I recognize how weird that sounds, but Portland is a famously content city. It's a live-and-let-live place where the biggest skirmishes occur between militant bicyclists and inattentive drivers. It's beautiful and easy and, frankly, I was bored by it.
So in April of 2010 I finally moved east to New York. But seven months later a Somali-American student in Oregon tried to set off a bomb during the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in downtown Portland. I felt guilty that I had abandoned my other home, like I should have been there for it.
I really don't have a death wish. It's just that, in a bizarre way, the threat of global terrorism makes me feel like a citizen of the world. So much of American life has become about being separate — shielding ourselves in our cars while we drive through a warren of streets to reach our private cul de sacs where we pull into garages before entering our homes.
Then, occasionally, the act of a terrorist reminds us that we are never completely alone. That despite our attempts to isolate ourselves, the modern world still shares the planet with crazed, Medieval-seeming crusaders.
After all, Manssor Arbabsiar, the suspect in the plot to murder the Saudi ambassador, lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, which seems about as likely a breeding ground for terrorism as Portland, Oregon.
But instead of making me feel terrified, these terrorists make me want to reach out to the strangers around me. To actually talk to the person crammed up against me in the New York subway. Because, whether we're afraid of a Christmas tree or a murderous used car salesman, we're all in this together. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]
This article is filed in: 89.7 Host Notes
Wisconsin Democrats hope to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in a recall election. In the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Zimmerman, a lifelong Democrat, says he is "appalled." The recall, he writes, "epitomizes the petty, loser-take-all vindictiveness of contemporary American politics."
Our Place In The Universe
Are we the end product of cosmic cataclysms? Ask the dinosaurs.
Fuentes Criticized Power Before It Was Fashionable
Mexican author Carlos Fuentes died Tuesday at age 83. He was a prolific novelist whose work was read by everyone from the Mexican elite to the working class, making him one of the country's most influential social critics. Host Michel Martin speaks with OC Weekly columnist Gustavo Arellano about Fuentes' influence, both in Mexico and abroad.
How Facebook Can Live Up To The Hype
Facebook needs more users — and it needs to figure out how to make more money off of each user.
Weekly Standard: Obama's JPMorgan Account
President Obama has disclosed that he has $500,000-1,000,000 in assets in a JPMorgan Chase account.
News updates from WGBH