american conspiracyWhich is to say, it does not represent the coherent, shared views of the staff at Think [sic].

It is, rather, a collection of mental skid marks from the various armed brains that have snuck behind THINK lines over the years.

Also be aware of the distinct possibility that several of these brains are not “human” at all, and have an agenda we can never know (in itself a “conspiracy within the conspiracy issue”). In short, you are invited to enjoy #49 with heavy sprinklings of rock salt. The kind they put on giant pretzels.

That said, this issue finds your humble narrator in Boston, cradle of the American Revolution and now home to the most famously inept airport security team in North America.

The initials “LAX” will no longer refer to Los Angeles International, but rather the attitudinal longitude of Boston’s Logan, where the woman at the metal detector may on occasion be bothered to glimpse the x-ray monitor over her neon highlighted G. E. D. study materials, but don’t bet on it.

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Of course it’s not her fault that she wasn’t trained properly or paid a decent wage. That would be the fault of her employers; which is to say the crony-ridden Massport Authority and the American airline industry. The same airline industry that has been fighting for years against instituting better safety restrictions, citing “cost” concerns.

The same airline industry that just received a multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout while at the same time is cutting tens of thousands of jobs. And now they’re asking that the feds take care of airport security and pay for Air Marshals. Which isn’t a bad idea, actually, but then, neither is slashing $300,000 CEO salaries or forcing shareholders to eat a lower P/E ratio.

It doesn’t require a Ph.D. in economics to figure out that it takes more than a few days of bad business before a major firm needs to lay off 15 or 20 per cent of their employees and request wage decreases.

No, the September 13th bailout requests and immediate layoffs were a crass manipulation of tragic events by corporate America, and luckily there are at least a few brave hearts left in the Democratic Party who aren’t afraid to call the bailout what it is: state sponsored class warfare.

But whatever. I’m not complaining. As of this writing, at least we haven’t bombed anyone, and the Administration’s rhetoric has cooled since the days when Bush promised a “Crusade” and Wolfowitz threatened a vague number of states with “ending them”, looking and sounding a bit too much like Robert MacNamara for comfort.

For the moment the Bushies seem sanely cognizant (if reluctantly) of the fact that anti-terrorism is an intelligence and police matter, not a full-scale military operation. Let us pray that these words are still current when read throughout the month of October.

Meanwhile, every day is the 4th of July here. Flags are taped to the windows of most shops and cars, and they hang from balconies as if legions of doughboys were marching down the avenues.

At first the omnipresence of the Stars and Stripes was comforting as a show of solidarity. But as the days turn into weeks, it is becoming clear that this one-dimensional response is not being unfolded into a more enduring and necessary three-dimensional thinking on the meaning and roots of terrorism, or the means to defeat it.

Already people are straining to get back to the mundane, are ready to forget the stress and fear of the immediate post-attack environment and settle into the routines of Must See TV, plus a flag or two. This would be a grave mistake, and speaks to the power The Great Soft Machine has over reality in this country. Not everyone is so ready to forget September 11th.

A friend of the family who teaches at BU reports one of his Pakistani students was just beaten viciously on campus, and I heard racist remarks after a Red Sox game where kids were selling “Kill Bin Laden” t-shirts and yelling threats at cab drivers. And this in the so-called Athens of the East. In more benighted regions of the land the attacks have been more frequent and deadly.

Some of these have been so awful its easy to forget that there have also been great outpourings of sympathy on the part of people toward Arab-Americans, as well as many moving interfaith vigils.

These usually mix patriotic songs with religious music, but only one of these vigils to my knowledge has included the singing of Woody Guthrie’s neglected “This Land Is Your Land”, a great patriotic song about inclusion that also references New York.

Not surprisingly the vigil was held in the great People’s Republic of Cambridge, and when I heard the radio broadcast, it was the first time I let myself cry.