In his State of the Union address last night, Bush boasted, “We are grateful that there has not been another attack on our soil since 9/11.”
Except, of course, that’s wrong. I’m not trying to play a cute semantics game; I know what conservatives mean when they talk about “terrorist attacks.” They’re describing devastating, cataclysmic events that kill a lot of people at once. I get it.
But about a month after 9/11, someone sent weaponized anthrax to two Democratic senators and several news outlets. Five Americans were killed and 17 more suffered serious illnesses. For reasons that I’ve never been able to explain, the incident — it’s entirely reasonable to call it an “attack” — is hardly ever mentioned. No one knows where the anthrax came from, who sent it, or why. It was a horrifying incident, immediately on the heels of another horrifying incident, but more than six years later, it’s almost as if the episode never happened.
And anthrax was what made things like “mobile chemical weapons labs” sound so scary. Not everyone agrees, but I think more than 9/11 the anthrax freaked the country out. 9/11 was horrible, but the anthrax made it seem like we’d reached a new era where some horrible creepy shit was going to happen every day.
And then it was all forgotten.
Quite right. Every time I hear someone talk about the absence of 9/11 attacks, I twitch, wondering why the anthrax incident has somehow been downgraded in the national memory.