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Fighting the Terrorists Over Here

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Message Larry Sakin
A new ABC-Ipsos poll released today shows that a third of Americans fear another terrorist attack will occur in the United States. This fear is understandable, considering the constant reminder from the Bush Administration that the United States must ... "fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan so we don't have to fight them here." But what the president fails to mention is that terrorism is already doing a great deal of damage throughout the country and the terrorists are not who we think.

The terrorists wreaking havoc aren't Islamic fundamentalists. Their religious beliefs are diverse. They aren't necessarily Arabic-they are of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian descent. They wear business suits, sports shirts and slacks, and carry briefcases. And they are robbing people of their homes, property and their heritage. These terrorists work for insurance companies that deny claims submitted by the people whose homes were decimated by Katrina. They also work for government relief agencies like FEMA, which has yet to send checks to people dislocated by the hurricane.

Much of New Orleans lower ninth ward remains in ruins. Little is being done to rehabilitate the area, home to thousands who don't have the resources to rebuild on their own. It's easy for residents to believe that the lack of response sends a clear message-that they aren't wanted back. Their perception may not be too far off the mark. In areas of the Northeast, lower middle class areas are being devastated by mortgage lenders and property speculators who offer high interest loans to first time home buyers who don't qualify for a standard bank loan. Property owners unable to continue the large monthly payments have their property seized, and it gets auctioned for a half to a quarter of the purchase price while the former home owner drowns in debt. Perhaps this is what we can expect to happen in the areas destroyed by the levee failures in New Orleans?

Someone once wrote that the pen is mightier than the sword. This is especially true when it comes to economic terrorism. 300,000 households are currently living away from New Orleans waiting to return to the city. Homeowner foreclosure rates have tripled nationwide to more than a million a year. Some of these are due to mortgage lending abuse, but most of these foreclosures are the result of exporting jobs overseas, skyrocketing property values, and loss of pension benefits to the retired. Politicians from both parties make powerful speeches and glad-hand people during election time, but offer little of substance.

Economic terrorism doesn't make big headlines in this country. People believe the loss of home results from a homeowners' lack of responsibility. They think insurance claimants in New Orleans didn't have flood insurance even though they were surrounded by water. They believe that people facing foreclosure didn't want to make their house payments. More than anything, they don't think the problems that beleaguer others can happen to them. However, many of the people in New Orleans ninth ward did have flood insurance, and either had their claims completely denied, or forced to settle for a tenth or less of the home's value. That is the reality of our country in the 21st Century. Policy and property holders taking the brunt so the companies they trusted can protect profits.

You don't need to ram a plane into a building in this country to be a terrorist. You just need to be an opportunistic slug with a pen.
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Larry Sakin is a former non-profit medical organization executive and music producer. His writing can be found on, Blogcritics, OpEd News, The People's Voice, Craig's List and The Progressive magazine. He also advocates for literacy and (more...)
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