The Danish Peace Academy
Singer, Kurt: Letter from California. October 19, 2001
American flags are everywhere. Millions of flags have been purchased since the destruction of the World Trade Center. Many cars display the flag and many homes.
But there is no enthusiasm for the 2 wars. The one in Afghanistan and the bioterror war against Anthrax at home. However there is magnificent help given to the victims of the bomb attacks and their families, the rescue teams of firemen and women, volunteers and police officers.
Life is far from normal. Many families feel threatened through job layoffs from Boeing to Motorola and many more ranging from the computer to the tourist industry. Unemployment is rising while Kabul is bombed. For instance the five star Ritz Carlton ocean front hotel in Orange County has only a 10% occupancy.
One of the hardest hit workers are the undocumented Mexicans working in hotels, restaurants, construction.and textile industry. People are reluctant to buy, they try to save money and worry about their and their children's future. The Government believes that there are 4-5 million illegal Mexicans in the USA and most of them live in California. The promised amnesty for them has been put on the back burner. The border crossings are now more difficult than ever. Department stores have fewer customers, movie theatres are half empty, car dealers say they have more sales people than customers. Disneyland in Anaheim discusses closing for the winter People are not traveling as in previous times. Tijuana the Mexican border town looks like a ghost town and San Ysidro the US border town no longer gets the daily Mexican visitors to buy American goods.
But capitalism is still flourishing in some sectors. You can buy a toilet paper best seller featuring the bearded picture of Osman bin Laden and the slogan You look flushed. Two packs sell for 12 dollars. There are Bin Laden T-shirts, coffe cups all with slogans like Your time is up The posters with his picture and inscription WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE remainds Californians of the good old wild west days.
On the more serious side the public is glued to TV and radio while driving and discovered there are more news about Anthrax than the Afghan war. It fosters insecurity.
A number of editors at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle believe that the serious Anthrax attacks come from a well financed neo fascist group which believes the press is infiltrated by left wingers like the six newspapers in Boca Raton, Florida or the NBC TV news and its distinguished anchor man and author Tom Brokaw.
The attack against Miscrosoft in Nevada is against another section of the information media.
The extremely dangerous Anthrax letter sent to Senator Tom Dashle the democratic majority leader which infected 20 members of his staff is again directed toward an enemy of the ultra right wing extremists. These groups are as anti semitic and anti Israel as Al Qaeda or Bin Ladin. The Bush government is investigating a possible connection. Opposition toward the Afghan war is very small. Some student groups at the University of California in Berkeley sided with ex President Gorbachov to work toward a political solution. Afro Americans who became Muslims remain silent while Sikhs wear their turbans now with red with and blue colors. The majoriy of Muslims in California are opposed to Bin Ladin and his followers. It should be noted that there are now as many Muslims in California and the rest of the USA as there are Jews.
Californians who worry about their economic future dont want to buy Bayers Cipro at 10 dollars a tablet and look for substitutes while Bayer's production and sales has trippled. The Anthrax tablets for 10 dollars are 2 pills to be taken on a daily basis or over 300 dollars a month. The economic recession and town turn started before the WTC bombing. Mr. Clintons budget surplus has now turned into a huge deficit. The 300 dollar tax refund check for each tax payer is considered a Government joke. It does not even cover the increase in electricity and gasoline costs. However Californians will receive a small refund check from their electricity companies who admit they have over charged the public.
It is obvious that all legislation for social advancement is dead. There will be no free prescription drugs for the elderly, no health insurance for 40 million uninsured and not even a bill for election reform to stop uncontrolled and unlimited funds for the candidates.
The beach city of Santa Monica made their own history. The city coundil decided the double the minimum wage for everyone working in Santa Monica to $ 10.50 per hour. The radical right wing renamed the city as Soviet Monica. California made also history when it passed a bill that homosexual and lesbian domestic partners could register and enjoy most of the legal rights of married couples. California was the third state in the union to pass such as law following Hawaii and New Hampshire.
The students of the University of California in Berkeley came out in protest against the war and bombing and so did the City Council of Berkeley, California.
People are more interested in their own futures and growing unemployment than in the war.Out of fear the Congress closed. The New York Post called the Congressmen and women: the Whimps.
California wil eventually return to normalcy but some war fears will remain.