Monday, January 6, 1997

Week of 01/06/1997

Of Terrorism and Threats of Terror…
- by David Matthews 2

For nearly an hour I sat in my car just outside the Incredible Universe store in Duluth, Georgia. I was waiting in my car because somebody phoned in a bomb threat, and the police had evacuated the store for the safety of all involved. I was waiting in line at checkout when people were being told to get out of the store. Needless to say I didn’t make my purchases. After an hour the police were chasing away EVERYONE who didn’t work at the store, whether or not they had purchases waiting inside the store, so I left. Incredible Universe would not get a sale for me, even though they were at one point only minutes away from doing so.

As I drove the hour-long trip back to my house in Gainesville, I thought about how utterly STUPID the bomb threat was. The threat wouldn’t hurt the store any more than it has earlier this week. The Tandy Corporation, the owners of the Incredible Universe chain, had already decided to either sell off or shut down ALL of it’s IU stores - the Duluth store was already going out of business. If anyone with half a brain wanted to hurt someone for this corporate decision, they would have gone after Tandy through their "bread-and-butter" chain, namely Radio Shack. (Note: I don’t advocate anyone doing just that. I am rather fond of Radio Shack myself, and I wouldn’t want to repeat this same situation in every mall I go to.)

Whoever the fool was, no doubt he or she was simply acting out of frustration. Perhaps an employee who, like the hundreds others, were led to believe that the business would grow. The Duluth store wasn’t even open for a year and already it was going to be shut down. Imagine the surprise of people who spend the time going through it’s orientation, being told of it’s benefits and opportunities, only to be told that no matter how hard they worked, and how profitable the store was, they were all going to be out of work.

In many ways, I can also see how this frustration spells out in another act of terror going on elsewhere in the world.

In Lima, Peru, 74 people are being held hostage in the Japanese Embassy by a rebel organization calling itself the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, known locally as the MRTA. Chief in their demands has been the release of some 300 members of the MRTA being held in Peruvian jails, a demand that apparently will go in vain since President Alberto Fujimori has rejected such an idea at least as long as the hostage situation remains.

It may seem a stretch of the imagination to link the bomb threat in Duluth with the hostage situation in Lima, but consider the overall frustration that feeds both situations. MRTA rebels strike out of frustration in changes they cannot begin to control. They strike out of futility, often causing more harm than good. Even this situation, even though it brings the eyes of the world upon them, does little to cast them in favorable light, nor will it hasten the political and social changes they so desperately want to have.

Ironically, in another part of the world, another form of frustration could very well lead to positive changes. In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, hundreds of people have made a daily protest against the continued refusal of Serbian leader Slobadan Milosevic to recognize defeat in their recent election. The protesters have marched peacefully for seven weeks now, never getting violent, only repeating their demands that Milosevic accept defeat and step down from office. No hostages have been taken, no bombs detonated or threatened, and the only violence coming from the seven week vigil was when supporters of Milosevic’s Socialist Party attacked the crowds. And the growing pressure not only from inside but outside the country has already cost Milosevic the support of one of his key political allies- Nebojsa Covic, mayor of Belgrade who resigned from his job to support the protesters.

The point being made is that frustration, when vented into non-violent activities, can yield positive changes. Not through hostage-taking, and certainly not through empty bomb threats to stores that are already doomed to closing. This lesson is not new, it has been proven time and time again by people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr.- who used non-violence to bring about positive changes.

Still, those who do not learn the lessons of history are forever doomed to repeat them. The people in Belgrade have learned this lesson. Hopefully the rebels in Peru will as well, otherwise they will be doomed to share the fate of the brethren they want released from jail.

No comments: