Vitriol
© 2001 by Andersen Silva (9-16-01)

Can't you see this is the land of confusion?

Less than two weeks 'til my 31st birthday, but I don't feel much like celebrating at the moment. Well, one gift I bought myself and my friend Barbara (whose birthday is just a few days after mine) seems more important and timely and urgent than ever: tickets to the "Come Together" concert for peace at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, for this Thursday night. Unfortunately, it's been postponed due to the shock waves still running through the City.  :\

I was in New York Tuesday morning, as I am briefly every weekday morning and evening. I take buses to and from work, and the most convenient way to get to where I work from where I live requires that I ride to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan and get on a different bus back to Jersey. Tuesday, because I was running a little bit late, and there was a water main break along the route my second bus follows, I was still at the terminal fifteen minutes before the first plane hit. Granted, I was quite aways uptown from the World Trade Center, but it's a sobering thought nonetheless.

Friday morning, as my bus drove along the Jersey side of the Hudson towards the Lincoln Tunnel and we got a view of the Manhattan skyline through the heavy rain, I was disheartened to see the smoke still rising from the ruins of the WTC. That night, thanks to the President's visit to New York, I had to get off a bus that was stuck in monstrous traffic and walk a few blocks to the bus terminal; in doing so, I passed in front of a fire station, and was moved to stop before a shrine that was growing outside. It was a somber moment, as I saw photos of firefighters lost in this tragedy.

Many people are only feeling now the dread and the horror and the shame that I felt on Tuesday morning when I realized that it was true, that an airplane (and then a second one) had actually hit the World Trade Center. I guess they needed to see the footage, and hear the numbers, to realize just how vast was the hurt to humanity. But too many people are turning to thoughts of vengeance and retaliation in their quest to assimilate and live with the shock and the pain. Look at Israel and the Palestinians and tell me that a quick response and taking some of 'their' innocents in exchange for 'our' innocents makes anyone feel better, or improves the general situation. And the terror groups operating in that area are small potatoes compared with al Qaeda, if it is in fact Osama bin Laden's organization that is behind this attack.

What if it's not bin Laden? What if his denials of responsibility are true? How petty and savage and stupid would America look if we killed him, destroyed half of already-ravaged Afghanistan in the process, and then got hit with more attacks from the real culprit? I'm not saying he didn't do it; I'm not even saying he's not a barbaric, heartless terrorist, because he is, and he's certainly guilty of other crimes, if not this one. But even Europol is questioning just how certain we can be that bin Laden is behind this attack, and we need to be damned certain before we strike. The world is mostly united behind the U.S. right now, but we would quickly lose much of that support if we bombed indiscriminately and without some sort of proof. It's too easy to pick a scapegoat, and the rest of the world isn't interested in our getting revenge, but in nipping this large-scale terrorism in the bud.

There are other issues at stake here, too. The Taliban has made clear that it will strike back, against the United States and any of Afghanistan's neighbors who help, without going into specifics. They have also asked other Muslims to consider an attack upon Afghanistan as an act of war against Muslims. The moderate and sensible Arab and Muslim nations are not going to be goaded by this, but there are nations that aren't quite so rational, and there are plenty of individuals who aren't, either. We could unleash a full jihad much worse than anything we've seen in Israel and the Middle East, or Afghanistan.

Pakistan, as the next-door neighbor and one-time ally of the Taliban, is the obvious intended recipient for their threats. Pakistan is a nuclear nation, along with nearby India. And Pakistan is home itself to a number of radical Muslim organizations. Do we dare risk either warheads being fired or reactors melting down?

The U.S. should also have been taking notes from the Russians and Israelis. Both are engaged in long-term 'wars' against radicals; both have far superior firepower and manpower; and yet both are no closer to ending the violence and restoring security and stability than they were a year ago. The Bush adminisration and the military do realize that combating terrorism is different from fighting any war we've ever fought before, but I'm not sure they realize just how difficult it may be, and how many more innocents and troops will die in the process.

The other issue people aren't thinking about is why this happened. Why do some Muslims/Arabs hate the United States so much? It didn't happen overnight, and it's not random. The fact is that our government has played so many games with other nations and peoples over the past century that we've managed to earn the ire, the scorn, and even the hatred of many. We created bin Laden, by arming Afghani and Pakistani militants against the Soviet invasion in 1979. When the Soviets finally pulled out, defeated, our aid and interest ended as well, and Afghanistan was plunged into a civil war, from which the radical fundamentalist Taliban emerged mostly a winner. We created Saddam Hussein, by arming him against Iran, and their ten-year war hurt both countries very badly. In the process, though, Saddam built up quite an arsenal, and ended up putting it to use against Kuwait and Israel. And the list goes on and on... America's policies of putting its fingers in everyone's pies were bound to antagonize others; those others have finally reached a point where they can hit us and hurt us. This doesn't justify their horrific acts, but it should force the current and future administrations to reconsider how we deal with the rest of the world. We might kill bin Laden (or whomever turns out to be the mastermind) and many of his agents, but the only way to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again is to deal fairly with all moderate and rational peoples and governments. World history (and early American history in particular) shows us that small groups of militants with strong convictions can sometimes beat back or even topple governments and empires. We dare not chance losing our society or our civilization to a fundamentalist regime along the lines of the Taliban. Read this interview with another Saudi dissident if you want to understand a little bit of radical Arab thinking.

Speaking of fundamentalist regimes, any American looking for someone on whom to take out his anger and frustration should target not Arab-Americans or Muslims but rather Jerry Falwell, who apparently feels that the root cause of this evil is not the overbearing and heavy-handed way we've dealt with other nations and peoples but the 'liberal' and open-minded way we run our own country. "Pagans, abortionists, feminists, homosexuals," and others are to blame for America losing God's 'protection.' And Pat Robertson also feels that America has 'insulted God.' Nothing like promoting unity, ye 'men of faith.'

I consider myself a pacifist, but I realize that there are times when the only defense is offense. The terrorists fired the first shots in this 'war,' and it is vital to us and to the rest of the civilized world that we prevent this kind of disaster from ever happening again. That probably means that people will be killed. But we owe it to our pride, to the world, to humanity, to make sure that we hit the right targets and keep the loss of innocent lives to the barest minimum. If we lash out in anger and attack based on our heightened emotions (and this goes for the unfortunate anti-Arab and anti-Muslim wave of intolerance that is cropping up within the U.S. these past few days, too, spurred by rumors, some true but most false, that Arabs and Muslims here have been celebrating the attacks), then we reduce ourselves to the level of terrorists. If we want to consider ourselves morally superior to the unfeeling people who did this to us, then we have to swallow our pain, act justly and sanely, and avoid killing innocents ourselves. Otherwise, there is no difference between us and them.

"An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind." - Mohandas Gandhi
  - A


April 2004 - The real final Vitriol, Howard Stern, Dubya, etc.
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March 2004 - Dining out with my baby, Virtual PC, and the end of Vitriol... or is it?
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February 2004 - Two weeks between jobs, three new songs, grabbing Panther by the tail
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January 2004 - Ice skating with Gina, sushi at my sister's wedding, war-riding, the pink slip
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December 2003 - Moving pains, goin' places with Gina, Christmas bells
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November 2003 - The looong month of October, finding an apartment, Ozzy's gone
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October 2003 - I'm in love with her and I feel fine, Boston, the Dalai Lama, apartment for rent?
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September 2003 - Andy, happy? it could happen!, taking time off from work, Ringo Starr, "Discworld," the blackout
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August 2003 - (W)here (M)ight (D)ose WMDs be?, gay marriages and the people who fear them, '80s metal bands, Computer Man to the rescue, Philadelphia freedom
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July 2003 - Boondocks.net is back!, rudeness on public transportation and elsewhere, "Hole in the Wall"
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June 2003 - Science fiction movies, where is Boondocks.net?, still no weapons of misconstruction...
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May 2003 - How 'bout them weapons of mass distraction, huh?, Def Leppard, Michael Palin, another Silva, wireless networking, and a damned good raspberry margarita
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April 2003 - They're still French fries, dammit!, a new guitar for Andy, music-music-music
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March 2003 - The buildup for, and the protesting against, war
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February 2003 - The destruction of the Columbia, the National Day of Poetry Against the War, hard and soft atheism, Pete Townshend, and the gift shop
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January 2003 - Christmas loot, "Swingin'," more war talk
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December 2002 - The year in review, moving again?!?, moving world leaders around, too
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November 2002 - "Scarlet's Walk" and Tori's penguin, jackasses, and killing in the name of...
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October 2002 - Boston, Aimee Mann, and Palpatine/Bush
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September 2002 - George Darius Bush and George Xerxes Bush
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August 2002 - Movin' out of Paisan-town, and far away from the Regal Beagle
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July 2002 - Church and state: you gotta keep 'em separated, Dubya still doesn't want to play nice with the rest of the world, John Entwistle's gone
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June 2002 - Movin' on from town to town, Dave Barry and the Rock Bottom Remainders
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May 2002 - Science fiction movies everywhere!, jail time for virus creators, Dubya finally learns to pronounce 'occupation,' Andy gets a promotion?!?
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April 2002 - Terrorism on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, people who don't interact with me or the Web site, "For Dana" to be released on a compilation CD
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March 2002 - Chip implants, the children of God and the followers of Christ commit murder in His name, ultranationalism American style
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February 2002 - Dubya says, "These pretzels are making me- ack!" Sharon continues playing Napoleon, and... the return of Foogar?
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January 2002 - Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, and other Christmas-related items, stealin' cars, karaoke!
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December 2001 - George meets his sweet lord, terrorists EVERYwhere!, Tomb Raider II finished finally, and the Segway, finally!
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November 2001 - Anthrax (the band), WSOU rocks - but for how much longer? and a minute of silence?
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October 2001 - Osama bin Laden and anthrax and the women who love them
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September 2001 - Governments and armies and the assholes who love them, more misspellings, and a large lack of feedback
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August 2001 - Dubya's isolationism, the Macedonians and Albanians search for peace the Israeli/Palestinian way, 2004 Olympics in Beijing
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July 2001 - Not the Sexiest Geek Alive, war (what is it good for?), murdering citizens American-style
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June 2001 - A dead hitchhiker, the Taliban, and an independent Senator Jeffords
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May 2001 - Joey Ramone's dead, and "Joey Ramone's Dead"
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April 2001 - Brazil (not the Terry Gilliam film), Dubya and carbon dioxide, Yugoslavia begins coming to its senses, Israel and the Palestinians still haven't come to theirs...
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March 2001 - New look for the Web site, upcoming vacation in Brazil!, the pig-headed Taliban, "Hannibal"
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February 2001 - Tomb Raider II, Dubya plays with his new toys, nature plays with El Salvador and India, and the inevitable Chechnya and Israel/Palestinians references
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January 2001 - Snow, a new year/decade/century/millennium, screen resolutions
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December 2000 - The iBook, "The X-Files," the Grinch, the pathetic turn of events in the U.S. elections...
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November 2000 - Got the iBook! the Village Parade, trouble still brewin' in the Mideast, the upcoming U.S. elections...
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October 2000 - Andy turns 30, the Middle East, the anniversary of the invasion of Chechnya...
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September 2000 - A random act of kindness, Great Adventure, new music, new iBooks?
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August 2000 - Palestine and the Israelis, Milosevic, Speight, and breaking the speed of light!
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July 2000 - Israel & the Palestinians, the missile defense shield, and (who'da thunk it?) Chechnya
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June 2000 - Um, Chechnya again, gun-totin' Charlton Heston, misspellings, and xenophobes
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May 2000 - Communism on the last May Day of the twentieth century, and Andy's life ("Don't talk to me about life...")
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April 2000 - Hold on, it's more Chechnya rantin', and an appeal on behalf of a friend caught behind red tape
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March 2000 - Hey, hey, Pinochet, Russia and China won't go away, "The X-Files," the American presidential race, and a prelude to vacation
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February 2000 - Again with the Chechens, and Elián, Pinochet, mp3.com vs. the recording industry, and snow
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January 2000 - Made it through January 1st, Syria and Israel, public transportation, and, er, Chechnya
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December 1999 - Indonesia comes apart, Chechnya (no shit), Seattle's burning, 'n Happy Xmas
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November 1999 - Halloween, my bad knee, Russians? in Chechnya?!? Buchanan and the Reform Party, NIN
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October 1999 - Hurricane on the East Coast, earthquakes in Taiwan, Turkey, and Greece, and Apple Computers
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September 1999 - I'm not getting you down, am I? I'd hate to think I was getting you down...

- - - the Dark Ages (reprise) - - -

April 1999 - the return of Vitriol, Kosovo, a foreshadowing of the Russian invasion of Chechnya (!), and Libya

- - - the Dark Ages - - -

September-November 1995 - the Underground Press Conference, a co-worker bites the dust, Rabin really bites the dust, Remington Bond, Win95, and the Sex Pistols
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August 1995 - the death penalty, the V-chip and violence in pop culture, and "TV Nation"
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June 1995 - Oklahoma City, 'zines, "The X-Files" and "V.R.5"
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March 1995 - I'm sick!, the space program (ha), alt.zines, "Star Trek" and "Voyager"
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February 1995 - the very first Vitriol! Newt Gingrich, political correctness, media overkill, Howard Stern, the Apple goon squad?
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