CHRIS CHAN ROBERSON
How scared are you about current events? Extremely. Until recently, I was living in Queens, and last week there was an earthquake there. First I can’t fly, then I can’t open the mail, and then the earth beneath me is falling. It’s unbelievable. People talk about the World Trade Center attacks being like something out of a movie and it’s true. It’s that surreal. On September 11, I had people calling me and saying “What’s going on?” Describing what had happened was like telling them that a friend had died. Today I was lost for a full 15 minutes. I grew up here and I’m embarrassed to say that I got lost. Without the towers to orient me, I didn’t know where I was.
Are you afraid to fly? Yes, but there isn’t any real place I need to go, so it’s not an immediate problem. I would pay more for my ticket if I knew it was going to ensure my safety.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. It’s one of those things where I can hop on the train to get where I’m going. There’s so much information out there. One e-mail about avoiding the malls came about the same time as another about Osama bin Laden mobilizing alligators to jump out of the toilets on a certain date. In general, I feel like I know enough. I don’t want to jeopardize national security. At the same time, we should know if we’re sending ground troops to Afghanistan, and we should be told about the people who are being held here in the U.S. I have family who were detained in the Japanese internment camps in World War II even though they were Chinese. It was just because they looked a certain way.
How scared are you about current events? I’m very nervous. If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t leave my house. I was sick recently with a headache and a stomach ache and my brother told me to go the hospital. Who knows if it’s anthrax. Last week I took the subway for the first time since the attacks on the World Trade Center and wouldn’t you know, there was a loud bang while we were underground. Everyone was in a panic. I almost got off at the next stop. Anybody could do anything down there. You don’t have to go through any kind of metal detector and anybody walking the tracks could lay bombs there. I was walking downtown and couldn’t turn around to look at the site. I just couldn’t take it. I hope they don’t rebuild. For me, to say “My mother was killed there,” and to have a Bankers Trust building there would be too much.
Are you afraid to fly? Yes, definitely. If I have to go to China, I’ll go by boat. Planes are out for me for the rest of my life. Never again. To be trapped up there so high would be terrible. I imagine what those people were going through. To get me on a plane now, you’d have to knock me out completely and put me in a bag and put the bag on the plane.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? My family’s in the Carolinas and we’ll drive there. My father called after the Trade Center attacks and said to my brothers and me, “There’s plenty of work here. Come home.”
Occupation Youth counselor
How scared are you about current events? Basically, I go about my day. It’s the news that’s causing the panic. Printing how the anthrax is spread means that it will be read by any crazy person. The government knows more than it’s saying. I’m not getting the information I need to feel completely safe. I feel like the same small bit of information is being given out over and over again.
Are you afraid to fly? I’ve always felt nervous about flying, so any nervousness I feel is not new. I don’t like the bus either. I usually take the train.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. I’ll be working on the holidays. They’re hard for people, especially for kids. You can’t just take the day off.
How scared are you about current events? I have no real fear of terrorism. I lived in New York City in 1993 when the first World Trade Center bombing took place, and it’s still worth living here. I can’t trust the United States government at all. There are three levels we’re dealing with—there’s anthrax, which is a response to the bombing of Afghanistan, which is a response to September 11. There are just layers and layers of distortion and bullshit.
Are you afraid to fly? Flying has always made me nervous, and there’s no way to be certain that it’s safe. Box cutters weren’t seen as weapons until a few weeks ago. These people say they want the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia, an end to bombing in Afghanistan, and a homeland for the Palestinians. I think the government knew about the September 11 attacks, but thought the planes would just be hijacked and maybe a passenger would get killed. Now they realize they don’t have full control over their operatives. We’re working now with rapists and mass murderers. Syria is on the Security Council.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. I’m more concerned about National Guardsmen at the airport. A reporter who was taking video of the soldiers at the gates had his tape confiscated. They made him erase it while they watched. They’re overreacting.
How scared are you about current events? I’m not anxious. I love it here. My family back home in San Francisco are more nervous than I am. I would say that I’m more aware of things than I was before, but I am going ahead and living my life.
Are you afraid to fly? No. I flew here a week before the World Trade Center attacks, and my parents came to visit a few weeks after. They said they’d never felt safer on a plane. I guess now is the time to fly, when security is so high.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. I’ll stay here for Thanksgiving, but fly home for Christmas. I can’t let myself be scared. My school says, “Stay focused and positive.”
How scared are you about current events? I’m more upset and angry than I am nervous. We have all this information but nothing specific about what’s going to happen and when, or who is going to do it. On September 11, I called in sick and was watching TV when the second plane hit. I thought the first one was an accident; after the second one, I knew it was terrorism. All I felt was anger and I wanted to go outside and take it out on anybody who looked Muslim. Then I thought that would make me no better than the people who did this. What did they gain by doing this? All these people died and for what? I understand what people are saying about Israel, but send out flyers, talk to us, educate us. What you’ve done is so violent it makes no sense.
Are you afraid to fly? No, not at all. I do think that screeners should be federal employees. Why let somebody who has a record, and who isn’t getting paid enough to care what goes through, check luggage?
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. I’m going to keep my holidays going. I’ll just be a little more vigilant.
How scared are you about current events? I’m actually not very nervous. What I’ve experienced is a broken sense of false security. The event itself was shocking, but a day or two later I thought that considering the way the U.S. treats other countries, it wasn’t a surprise. September 11 was the date when somebody finally chose to lash out at the United States. Security after the 1993 bombing was high, and then it lapsed. I don’t know why they weren’t guarding the towers all the time. I think the government knows more about the September 11 attacks than they’re saying.
Are you afraid to fly? I don’t fly that much anyway, so it’s not a big issue.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? I’m a bus person. When the holidays roll around, I’ll be going home to Boston by bus.
How scared are you about current events? Not very. They’re going after Corporate America, not Black America. I think Bush has good intentions, although I also think the anthrax is coming from the government. They made Osama bin Laden. I am nervous about people-bombs, about people blowing themselves up in buses or in crowded public places.
Are you afraid to fly? I’ve never flown before. I was going to fly to California for a meeting but it got cancelled. When it’s your time to go, you go. You check in, you gotta check out. God doesn’t care if you pay your bill.
Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? I’m a Muslim. A lot of wars have been fought during Ramadan so the thought of our fighting next month doesn’t bother me.