Spore War

Dozens of Americans Have Tested Postive for Exposure to Anthrax. Having a nervous Breakdown Yet?

Age 28
Resides Manhattan
Occupation Project manager

Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? There are two sides to it. Emotionally, I definitely take pause as I step onto the subway or enter the Battery Tunnel. Rationally, I know that effective delivery systems for anthrax are extremely difficult to come up with. All the attacks have included amounts so small that there has been very little left to test.

Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No. At this point, I think that the Department of Health would be able to handle any bacterial infection. Natural outbreaks occur all over the world, and I'm confident that an outbreak here would be contained.

Who is sending the anthrax? If I'm speaking as conspiracy theorist, I would say that it's someone with a bone to pick with the government or with the American people. I'm more concerned that there will be piggyback attacks. If I were Osama bin Laden, would I be sending anthrax to Pataki's office after I blew up the World Trade Center? These attacks are distracting us from what's going on in Afghanistan. Like all good Americans, we're much more interested in what's happening to us here than in what's happening overseas. Unfortunately, I think the people of Afghanistan are screwed. They are going to have to stage their own revolution or be casualties of ours.

Age 24
Resides Manhattan
Occupation Doctoral student

Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? No, but the only reason I'm not is that I don't believe in living in fear. It's as simple as that. Just by coming to live in New York you take certain chances. I'm from Houston and I worked on President Bush's campaign, but I'm tired of government officials saying things like, "We're not going to let terrorists keep us from playing football."

Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No, not really.

Who is sending the anthrax? Osama bin Laden is a metaphor for terrorism. I don't think it would be in the best interests of terrorists to use biological warfare because spreading it would make everyone vulnerable, including them. I think the World Trade Center attacks were designed to poke at the sleeping giant that is the United States. We go over there, retaliate and kill a lot of innocent civilians, and it galvanizes even non-fundamentalist Muslims. It's a perfect recruiting tool for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. It's part of a long-term plan.

Age 24
Resides Brooklyn
Occupation Publicist

Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? Yes and no. It's getting scarier and it's hard not to be anxious, but all the samples have been sent to people in power. I don't think that would discount you and me, but I'm not panicking. I already saw something so shocking last month that I keep thinking, "What else could there be?"

Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No. I'm still opening my mail. I have noticed that people are starting to wear their dust masks again.

Who do you think is sending the anthrax? I've thought about this a lot, and I don't know. Sending small quantities of anthrax seems pretty subtle for a terrorist organization. Why, in the wake of such an extreme act as the attack on the World Trade Center, would they be trying to poison a few people at a time and through the mail?

Age 40
Resides Bronx
Occupation Writer

Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? Yes, I am. My little daughter is up in Massachusetts and I don't want her to come to New York. I'm also pregnant, so that's another issue. I'm worried about things like an aerosol being released on the subway. I think about these things, but at the same time, I know that I could cross the street right now and get hit by a car. You can't live in fear. I think this has been coming for a long time. Americans were blissfully ignorant for years. Now we know first-hand that war involves civilians. Are we John Wayne-ing it? I don't know. They attacked us and we're doing what any other nation on earth would do. We're defending ourselves.

Are you doing anything to protect yourself? I'm not carrying Cipro, although I have antibiotics at home. There are no real precautions to take. Terrorism is a shadow war.

Who do you think is sending the anthrax? I don't know if it's an American extremist taking advantage of the situation, or some attention-seeking kook. If it's the bin Laden people, why give the government more clues? Either way, it's just so opportunistic. The World Trade Center attack was very well thought out. The 911 emergency connection, the planes starting out from Boston where the American Revolution began.

Age 31
Resides Manhattan
Occupation Bartender

Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? Yes and no. I'm nervous, but I'm glad it's anthrax and not smallpox. As soon as you're exposed to smallpox, all they can do is quarantine everybody and let them die.

Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No. It's one of those things where if drugs aren't prescribed to you specifically, they aren't going to do you any good.

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