Well no shit. But in regards to terrorism and me personally, the world has never been the same since I was introduced to the word and its horror via the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
I can remember being eight years old and watching the games with my friend Suzuki Karlowitz in her parents’ apartment. As her mom and dad were Austrian and regularly conversed in the background with each other in German, it somehow made things more authentic… as if I was there instead of thousands of miles away. I can remember being inspired by the pageantry and spectacle of a world coming together to peacefully coexist and compete under the magnificent Olympic flame and the majextic waving banner of the five olympic rings. I whistled and sang the Olympic theme music constantly. I thrilled and filled with pride watching Mark Spitz conquer all. I fell in love with Olga Korbut.
Then he arrived…
…and all the joy and triumph was destroyed and replaced by that evil demon who I watched prowl the balcony of that Olympic Village building on television and in the front pages of newspapers. From there he took up residence in my mind. He became the monster in my closet and the troll under my bed and the stranger in the shadows as I walked home from the park. He thrived in my nightmares wherein he would always be leaning over the balcony looking specifically for me. I could only stand frozen as his searching would ultimately lead his head to slowly turn in my direction and those black evil eyes would lock on me and his hands would reach out and I would only wake up and escape the exact moment before he grabbed me. In a mad dash I would be in my mom’s room sniffling. “Bad dreams again?” She’d ask and I’d whimper out a “Yes mommy” and she’d sigh and pull back the covers and let me crawl in next to her. Safe.
But not really. It was hard for an L.A. kid to ever feel completely safe â€” especially in the 1970s. I learned about countries like Laos and Cambodia and Vietnam. Charles Manson was in captivity, but his “family” was at-large and everywhere. And if war and murder weren’t enough, the year before Munich I’d experienced proof that nothing is permanent via the Sylmar quake. And after the summer of 1972 came the Symbionese Liberation Army who I was sure any day was going to kidnap me while walking to Horace Mann elementary school in Beverly Hills â€” not to mention Watergate and its spooky “burglars” ultimately leading to the disgrace and resignation of Richard Nixon. Mix in some mythical and mysterious black panthers and factor in the skidrow slasher and the hillside strangler a couple years later â€” don’t forget about the Revered Jim Jones! â€” and it ain’t too hard to see why I somewhat scoff when the president endlessly uses 9/11 as the line of demarkation.
Bush, the only thing that changed after that horrible day were the rules of engagement, or lack thereof.