Dee's Blog
Tue 11/06/2007
The Enemy Within
Topic: Aliens

One of the most wonderful museums in the Midwest is located in Omaha, only 20 minutes from my home. It’s called Durham Western Heritage Museum. I sometimes take visitors there. Sometimes when I really want to concentrate on a special exhibit, I like to go alone. Such was the case recently. In fact, I made two trips in for an exhibit done in collaboration with the Smithsonian. It’s called “The Enemy Within.”

What a study on terrorism in America! Terrorism, as defined by this massive undertaking, is the “use of unlawful force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce government, the civilian population or any segments of society in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The displays were set in a large room that I know well, yet it didn’t feel like the same room at all since it was very dark to match the subject matter and filled with a backdrop of sounds that I wanted to turn off at times, sounds that reminded me of a haunted house. This was nothing like the haunted house, though. It wasn’t set up for anyone’s fun. Nor for tots or even elementary-age kids either. It would have gotten at least a PG-13 rating in the movies, and there were plenty of warning signs about its content not being suitable for children.

One purpose of this project seemed to be to get us to look deeper than the terror of 9/11, to see the history of terrorism in America, that actually started the very year the nation was born. Yes, even in 1776, when the Loyalists plotted to kidnap George Washington and assassinate his chief officers.

My mind kept going back to the days when we kids were told that the enemies were the communists who were living among us. Everyone was suspect, and we frequently had drills in school to protect ourselves under these flimsy desks and tables, where we were to stay quietly for as long as we were told. What a plan! Smacks of duct tape in recent years.

It reminds me of the belief that having a few convicted child molesters in a data base, so everyone can know where the problem sex offenders are, is going to be the magical solution to protecting us. “We can stop our vigilance. Just go in and check to see if you have one in your community. We all know where they are now.” As if they all get turned in or that all situations get reported and justice is always served. Not that data bases are bad. It's just such nonsensical thinking to believe they are the magical solution.  Such thinking creates a false sense of security, of course. Though I have to admit that I wish it was all that simple.

What is simple is teaching kids and adults alike that it's okay to talk.  Not just to talk, but to find ways of keeping us all focused on the rational concerns.  Getting that message across continues to be the biggest challenge as I see it.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Tue 11/13/2007 1:05 PM CST

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