terrorism Archives - The Jose Vilson


I stood in my classroom on Monday morning, worn out from awaiting President Barack Obama’s announcement, waiting for the Pledge of Allegiance. Growing impatient with the pledge, I began to twirl the chalk in my hand while my students also reluctantly stood there. Anxious about next week’s math test, I scribbled the Objective and Do Now on the board when a student looked at me in her bubbly naivete and asked, “Mr. Vilson, what happened yesterday?”

“Not sure what you mean.”

“Well, like, something happened last night with something, like, really big.”

“You mean, Osama bin Laden?”

“Yeah, something like that. What was the big deal?”

I had to forgive her immediately. When the really big deal happened, she was only 3-4 years old, still piecing together the world presented to her. She couldn’t understand how tons of steel and cement decimated into rubble and ash would demolish the lives of thousands. She was only four years old when our country’s leader at the time launched us into a crash course towards a new-age imperialism by way of warring against ideas. She was just getting her own memories when that leader also told the rest of the country that their mission was completed when it was far from accomplished. By the time she had any understanding of what a president might do and how that person affects her life, that president wasn’t really concerned with the whereabouts of the purported mastermind of the really big deal.

Naturally, I had every intention of infusing the facts with my own opinion, knowing that this was a prime opportunity to get her and everyone else within earshot to question the things she was learning how to trust, as we all had to learn how to trust. Patriotism is implicitly an exercise in trust. Even when we don’t believe everything our government says, those with any inkling of patriotism or nationalism believe that the government and its people have the best of intentions when they run the country. For anyone who took a deeper look at the story of Osama bin Laden’s death, one has to question many aspects of what happened, but even those who do still trust that Barack Obama and Co. did the best job possible.

Unfortunately for that crowd, I dissent there. 9/11 happened. Osama bin Laden’s death happened. People died needlessly. People continue to die needlessly. Young boys are playing grown men’s games for them overseas. Everything else leaves me questioning everything else. So instead of celebrating on the streets, I tried to get some rest for the the next day.

All morning, it left a bitter taste in my mouth that logic has given way to whatever our government has said about Osama’s passing. Yet, when I looked at the students’ face, I didn’t give much away, so I said,

“Well, Osama bin Laden was the person the government holds responsible for making the plans for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.”

She giggled, “Oh yeah! Well, I don’t remember much about that.”

“Yeah, you were so young then, like three or four right?”



Jose, who still meditates for peace …


Guantanamo Bay, the Parody

Guantanamo Bay, the Parody

This morning on NY1, I saw some random meeting between some of the families of 9/11, and, when they were asked about President Obama’s closing (essentially) of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, they were outraged, OUTRAGED, and wanted them tried immediately. While I sympathize with their point of view about 9/11, I also have to wonder if they can get past the myopia and noticed that, like most Americans, they’ve been hosed.

Imagine having 775 hostages (because the word “detainees” sounds like the US government was following the Geneva Conventions to the letter, and it wasn’t) who were allegedly enemy combatants in a camp somewhere in Cuba, and very few people had any idea when any of them would be tried or whether any of them were even going to live. Our country just kept them there and whenever they felt like it, you released them. And they did it with all the money they needed because it would a) show the Muslim world that our country means business and b) they can and no one’s going to stop them.

I don’t know about you, but to say that the logic of having those hostages contained (in a foreign land, mind you) is akin to refrigerating a rotten egg: a reactive solution to a pre-existing problem. If we’re saying that the 775 original hostages or prisoners of war were guilty as sin, then why were 505 of them released through May ’08? Why were only three of them actually convicted of anything? Why, then, if they are just detained, did we decide to let them rot there when, upon release, they’ll be even more invigorated and create even more soldiers when they go back to their respective countries?

Now, I’m not saying that the detainees were innocent men (seems like there are no women in there). I just know that, as far as 9/11 is concerned, I just think that the families are sniffing up the wrong trees (or forest in this case) when it comes to finding who helped blow up the buildings. Rather than demand for answers from those hostages, they should demand answers from the ex-Commander-in-Chief who’s preferred corporate interest over true peace in the Middle East, who planted troops for private infantry than any actual fighting, and who used all that money we now so desperately need for this tomfoolery.

Or for that matter, why your families were used as the “image” of the average suffering American, but when it came time for answers, those using your images never really responded. I’m glad we’re getting rid of Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp; maybe we can focus on the prisons in the United States first.

Jose, who doesn’t always advocate for the devil …


“ There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. […] Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

- E.B. White, “Here is New York”

With all due respect, because E.B. White by all accounts is a great writer, but this is complete bullshit it’s just not that accurate. I’m ambivalent about comments like this with all the recent, subconsciously and increasingly anti-NYC sentiment pervading this citadel’s air. I’m confounded by the possible reasons, but if the recent flood of movies is any indication, the weird relationship between the “settlers” and NYC will always be tenuous at best.

Check the latest disaster flick coming out in Christmas in which now it’s Keanu Reeves’ turn to pick up the pieces after NYC gets destroyed: The Day The Earth Stood Still. At first, when I saw NYC getting destroyed on film, I knew it was because places like NYC, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, and other big cities just have an exceptionally fun look when they’re getting destroyed … but only when it’s fake. After 9/11 and after seeing the massive overhaul of old buildings and businesses here, cranes falling, houses on fire, rising cases of breathing issues from NYC residents, and bar after bar popping up all over Manhattan, I wonder if this barrage of movies destroying NYC is some sort of subconscious attack on the NYC native’s psyche.

And I’m not that defensive about New York; it can more than handle its own. As a native New Yorker, I cheer for the Yankees and root for the Mets on off-days (honestly, Yankees fans have little problems with Mets fans. Not so the other way around …), take the F, V, A, D, and the 1, drink bubble tea and eat sushi with soy sauce with the best of them, can tell you the best way to get to any neighborhood by train, bus, or taxi, have a scary understanding of the history of the Lower East Side complete with why we pronounce Houston HOW-Ston and not HUE-Ston, and a blogroll replete with NYC bloggers. Yet, when someone’s a true Red Sox fan and not some myopic bandwagoner, or prefers their quieter suburb to the crazy confines of this city, I respect that because that’s what they know. Besides, with all of NYC’s pro-capitalist, pro-emperialist (The Empire City anyone?), anti-activist, and white collar tendencies, I’m almost living a contradiction.

Yet, when I see the drastic changes to the city, when “settlers” try to be more NYC than me, when developers keep razing condos and no one can afford to live in them while supposedly low-cost housing keep getting like condos, when none of this matters to the kids who were born and raised here, it gives me more clues as to who are the real terrorists to New York City.

And scarily enough, I can’t quite put a face on them either …

jose, who doesn’t think it’s the settlers, the natives, or the commuters per se …