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A Disturbing Confluence
A PN subscriber has been working hard to convince me how Israel and the Jews are really responsible for the Sept. 11 terror. She has forwarded me a number of pieces to that effect, including one written by an American which concluded that "The Zionists are the only benefactors of the horrendous day of terror on September 11, 2001. Ironic isn't it, that although Zionist criminal actions led to this terror, only the Zionists will benefit from it. Of course, the reason they benefit because the American mass media is completely in their hands and it will never ask the proper questions of why these horrendous events are happening."
I was somewhat embarrassed to point out to her that this particular piece had been written by the former national leader of the Ku Klux Klan. At the time this message came through my box, I considered this to be an unfortunate oddity. But now, this confluence of (fascist and Islamist) views is becoming rather frightening. Some US security experts believe that the anthrax attacks via US mail may be attributable not to Islamists but to right-wing terrorist groups in the US that support the Bin Laden "cause." As one neo-Nazi leader in the US stated last week, "you're either with the Bin Laden against the Jews or you're with the Jews against Bin Laden." I'm wondering if this is also a phenomenon in Europe, where, in some countries, neo-Nazi groups are larger...? (One "positive" thing about this. It's evidence that the US doesn't jump to conclusions and blame everything on Muslims. Even though the anthrax attacks occurred shortly after September 11, US government and security officials are approaching the investigation from all angles with an open mind to figuring out who is behind them.)
A National ID Card?
OK, I have to confess, this may not be very politically correct, but I am for a national ID card in the United States. In fact, I was in favor of the idea before September 11. Maybe I'm naive, but it seems perfectly logical (and beneficial in many ways) to have a way to identify people. I'm a member of the university, and I require a university ID to identify myself and use the university's services. If I'm a citizen of a country, doesn't it also make sense to have both a unique number and a card for the same purpose? There are already lots of other, less efficient, ways to do the same thing (driver's licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, passports). Wouldn't it be a lot more efficient to have one single national form of identification? I'm thinking, for example, of the thousands of Floridian voters (most of whom were Black) who were mistakenly expunged from the voting roles because they had the same or similar names as other people who had committed felonies. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to have unique numbers for people, rather than trying to identify them by name? A lot of commentaries have appeared in the press recently asserting something to the effect that "people who would give up their liberty in order to have security deserve neither." Maybe I don't get it, but I fail to see how a national ID card entails my giving up my liberty. (And, similarly, I'm not against the use of biometrics, such as automatic face recognition or iris scanning, in public places--if it can prove to be an efficient way of enhancing security. What do I care who looks at my face? People can do it anyway already, albeit it in a less efficient fashion.)
My Weekly Mail
I thought you might find it of interest what comes into my email box in a typical week. Here's a random sampling: (1) a greeting from a long-lost high-school friend who found my name on classmates.com, (2) an appeal from a professor in China to read and comment on his articles, since the conservatives at his university do not take his innovative research seriously, (3) an urgent appeal from an unknown person in an unknown place to send her "things that relate to THE USE OF INTERNET-BASED MATERIALS AS ENGLISH TEACHING RESOURCES", (4) several interesting translations from the Mideast press from the Middle Eastern Media & Research Institute (http://memri.org), (5) a stern complaint from an online personals network that I "haven't logged on for a while!" (actually, ever), (6) an automatic message from the university computer system saying that "This text is part of the internal format of your mail folder, and is not a real message" (are computer networks so primitive that they really have to send these out?), (7) lots of bad jokes (and 1-2 good ones) about Osama Bin Laden, (8) a message from the vice-chancellor's office informing faculty of our new security procedures for mail (e.g., "Effective today, any incoming letter mail received from the US Postal Service that does not include a return address will be opened for inspection by Distribution Services prior to delivery"), (9) submission of several new manuscripts to Language Learning & Technology, (9) several (OK, irritating :-)) automatic replies from PN subscribers that "I am out of town but will read your message as soon as I come back next week."
It really feels like fall here. Halloween is coming soon, Thanksgiving
is around the corner, and people are starting to talk about Christmas. Today's
the day when most of the US reverts back from daylight savings time to regular
time, so I have an extra hour. I think I'll go up and take a nap! Enjoy--
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