Volume 17, Number 52 | May 20 - 26, 2005

Talking point

Hey Pat, suicide hijackers are scarier than judges

By Jane Flanagan

It seems that an awful lot of people lately are talking about my best interests.

Take evangelist Pat Robertson, a Yale Law School graduate, who said that federal judges are more of a threat to the American way of life than “a few bearded men flying planes into buildings.”

I understand Mr. Robertson hails from Virginia. Well, I don’t know how things are down south, but here in Lower Manhattan bearded men flying planes into buildings certainly threatened my American way of life.

I was on my way to a grocery store near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Until that morning I never thought about bombs going off on my way to the market. I do now.

It’s not just me, either.

Friends over in Rockefeller Playground in Battery Park City, still look up every time they hear a plane flying overhead. One confessed recently that wherever she is, in her apartment bathroom, on a Tribeca sidewalk, whenever she hears a plane, she freezes.

Out in New Jersey, a woman I know of said goodbye to her husband on Sept. 11 and never saw him again. Not because of a traffic accident, or unforeseen heart attack, but because of bearded men flying planes into buildings. This was, of course, also true for the families of the 2,749 people who died in Lower Manhattan.

I spent the night of Sept. 11 hiding in a government office building Downtown. I didn’t sleep for a second, listening instead to fighter jets patrolling overhead, terrified that one of them didn’t belong to us. I settled my son into a Barcalounger and juggled trying to let him sleep while sitting close enough so that if something happened, I wouldn’t be alive if he wasn’t.

In the months after Sept. 11 military tanks patrolled our streets, picture ID was demanded at checkpoints, and Coast Guard boats with machine guns patrolled our harbor. The boats and guns still do.

Talk about altering the American way of life.

I thought this is why we went to Afghanistan. To make me safer and to prevent this happening ever again in America. We also went to find a bearded man named Osama bin Laden.

The grocery store I was on my way to on Sept. 11 was the Amish Market, then located on Cedar St. It was owned and run by immigrants from all over the world. A few months after the attack, I spoke to co-owner Omer Ipek, a Muslim who emigrated from Turkey with very little money. His wife was a born-again Christian. She chose the name “Amish” after visiting the Pennsylvania Dutch country and saw this unusual religious sect enjoying a free, American-way of-life.

The New York Amish Market employees emigrated from countries all over the world. If you go into one of their current stores Downtown, you’ll see employees wearing turbans and head scarves. They easily fit in in New York, a quintessentially American City, where traversing a single block one can overhear at least five languages being spoken.

The Cedar St. Amish market was destroyed on 9/11, and a 20-year-old employee from Uzbekistan, who was manning the store’s cart in the World Trade Center, was killed. I’ll bet Omar Ipek never thought this could happen in America.
Speaking of Muslims and bearded men, it probably isn’t all that easy to be either in America right now, certainly if you are from certain countries of origin. Seems to me that’s just the kind of thing you want fair-minded judges around to help out with. I think the Amish — both New York and Pennsylvanian — would agree.


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