Worldwide Caution!

Today I received an “emergency” e-mail from the US Embassy in Santiago de Chile addressed to citizens residing in Chile. Given the current state of the world and taking into account the tragedy that recently occurred in Norway, I anxiously opened the e-mail. In a matter of seconds so many thoughts ran through my head and I was hoping to God that nothing happened in the States or in Chile that would put anyone in danger.

Fortunately it was just your typical “Worldwide Caution” message to provide me with up to date information on security threats and terrorist activities! If you don’t travel often or register your travels with the state department, then you may not be used to these frightening messages. On the other hand if you are registered, you tend to receive them every month or two and it generally contains similar information, yet it produces the same menacing feeling right before you open it. It’s comparable to the feeling you get when walking down a dark alley in an unknown urban neighborhood… Perhaps you don’t do that often, but it seems as if this is how they want to make you feel.

Here are a couple reasons to remain paranoid, look even more like a tourist in a foreign country, have absolutely no fun, and wish you would have stayed home where the threat continues!
  • US citizens should “maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness”.
  • In case you were unaware, we killed Osama in May and this puts us at an enhanced potential risk for Anti-American attacks. “These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.”
  • “Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.”
  • “U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. “
Thank God there was no special information for people in Latin America! Cancun, you are safe!

I understand that this message is meant to keep me informed and aware of current events. We are at war and it is always best to stay safe, however at the same time we are and have been instilling fear into people. This e-mail illustrates my point; if you are traveling, don´t do anything! As a matter of fact stay home! You can easily turn on your television or watch/read/listen to the news and receive the same information. This type of fear breeds hate and xenophobic attributes which in turn justifies our wars with the ¨other¨ and allows us to treat innocent bystanders as if they were sub-human.

In regards to terrorist, Muslims and Middle Easterners take the blame, and at times we fail to differentiate between who is a supposed terrorist and who are the regular people that pertain to the said groups. In our fast paced internet/information based society, we are so used to acting and processing information quickly which often times results in fallacious and superficial conclusions. We lack dialogue and patience while our conviction remains as our only shining star.

Take a look at the events that unfolded in Norway this past week where dozens of people were murdered. It was initially announced as an Al-Qaeda attack, but it turned out to be an unassuming, white, Christian fundamentalist who was afraid of an Islamic cultural invasion of Europe due to the growing immigrant population. Anders Behring Breivik was xenophobic and displayed historical and social ignorance by falling prey to hatemongering right wing propaganda. I believe this is a reoccurring trend that happens on both sides of the spectrum; there are distorted and manupulated forms of the truth that serve specific social, political, and/or economic purposes. The sad part is that this sole factor increases our polarization and carries a lot of weight in our societal conflicts. Unfortunately in our present day, this can prove to be extremely violent as we can see with this event just as it has in the past events relating to the e-mail I received.

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