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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Who do you think is sending the anthrax? I’m sure it’s homegrown. It’s some nut who got hold of some anthrax years ago and has held onto it. Anthrax can keep for years. There’s no organization to these cases. If Osama bin Laden could hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he would have staged a much larger attack than this. One of the untouched ironies is that several months ago, I saw the World Trade Center event in an episode of The Lone Gunman. In it, the military staged the attack to get money from Congress to fight terrorism.
Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? Very. I’m worried every time I go on the subway. I look around as I’m getting into the train car. I worry about how quickly something could be spread down there. Right now, I feel as though I could wear a gas mask and people wouldn’t look at me like I was crazy. They’d understand.
Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No, not yet. I think everyone is becoming a hypochondriac. People are coming down with colds and panicking. Last night I thought I had a fever and I was nervous. It’s hard not to panic. My family is happy that I live in Brooklyn and not Manhattan, but I come in to work here everyday. I’m more nervous than they are.
Who do you think is sending the anthrax? I definitely think it’s linked to Osama bin Laden. There are people working for him in the city and all over the country. The idea of the anthrax spreading is terrifying. It’s like a horror movie. You can’t see it but it’s popping up all over. I never thought I’d see something like this in my lifetime. Everything is different now.
Resides Staten Island
Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? I’m not worried about anthrax because nobody’s mailing me anything. I still open my mail. The stuff is being sent to newspapers and members of Congress to freak people out. It’s the fastest way to make people panic.
Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No. They might put anthrax in the medicine that’s supposed to fight anthrax. I am careful about what I eat and drink now.
Who do you think is sending the anthrax? It’s an American who’s doing it. We think it’s the terrorists because we’re in the middle of a war, but I think it’s some crazy person. Somebody who hates the government, and who has wanted to do this for years and is taking advantage of the situation. The government will figure out who’s sending it as soon as they stop limiting their search to the terrorists.
Are you nervous about the recent anthrax cases? No, not really. You can’t control your destiny. If something happens, it happens. You just have to stomach it. Before I came back from Germany recently, I wondered briefly whether I should stay there.
Are you doing anything to protect yourself? No.
Who do you think is sending the anthrax? I don’t know. I do think it’s linked to Al Qaeda. Saying that, it’s also possible that it’s an American crackpot driving around in his Chevy pickup with a bunch of anthrax. It’s really the psychological aspect of the attacks that’s getting to people.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2001