The Daily Dish posted a comment on my entry “Will Osama bin Laden’s death change expat’s day to day?” which I’ve been percolating over the last number of days. I felt compelled to write another post about this issue as it simply cannot be just a reply. I’m most interested to see if others’ perspectives are different and if so how….please read and post comments.
To give some context before I get into the post, The Daily Dish lived on the east coast of the US during 9/11. I can only imagine what fear she must have experienced at the time (and perhaps since), so I definitely don’t want to minimize it whatsoever. Since I haven’t lived in the US since before 9/11 I definitely have a reality of living in Australia.
Since the bin Laden killing when national security could have been heightened, we had a scare at Sydney International Airport as a traveler entered a ‘secure area’ through a back door which held up all flights for a number of hours. Last week a single man closed the Sydney Harbour Bridge by scaling one of the supports during rush hour for most of the morning until authorities could get him down.
Both incidents were treated as potential terrorist threats initially, but then later reported as if they were simply a major hassle to travel. Instead of being scared of either of the situations and/or grateful to authorities who attended to the situations, the reactions I saw and heard on the news were expressions of anger about being inconvenienced and/or at the authorities to allow this to happen in the first place.
My guess is that if these same things happened in LAX or at the Golden Gate Bridge (for example) that immediately it would be treated as a terrorist act. I imagine that the Homeland Security Alert would immediately be increased to red, the news would follow stories that related to possible terrorist scenarios and link this to al Qaeda and the authorities would be questioned as to the model they’re using to protect commuters from terror. Note: I may be too dramatic here and I’m definitely not saying that al Qaeda and potential terrorist attacks shouldn’t be taken seriously.
I’m simply wondering why when we have potentially similar threats here in Australia, the media spin and people’s reaction are different. Given 9/11 and other world events, I cannot say (nor I am even remotely qualified to speculate) that US security measures are not warranted.
As a proud American, I am saddened that my experience travelling through the US recently was that the ethos of freedom has seemingly become one of fear — especially since I don’t live that reality as an expat. I wonder if perhaps because I don’t seem to have the same day-to-day realities and media-fed stories, which might make me feel as if I’m under threat. Or perhaps is it because I don’t share the same reality of 9/11 experiences as my fellow Americans. Either way, I am grateful I do not have to live with constant fear. Perhaps I’m being too idealistic when I say my hope is that we all get to experience that feeling, regardless of where we live.