The Ever-Changing American Culture The Ever-changing American Culture As Americans, we used to worry little about war, having enough to eat, travel, freedom, and our most basic everyday activities. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 have forever changed the American way of life. We have now become more concerned with our physical health because of the few cases of anthrax and the possibility of more biological warfare. We also worry about nuclear warfare and the effects it could have on our health and environment. Americans have certainly become more patriotic and involved with their families since September 11.
Most of us watch the news diligently to learn of any defeat the United States has accomplished in Afghanistan. Many of us are avoiding the airlines and are not spending very much money. This has helped push the economy further on the downward slope. The stock exchange hit bottom on September 21 in the 8100 range and is now back over 9900, which is right at the cusp of being a bull market (Pellegrini). Oil prices have been dropping rapidly and are now around 17 dollars a barrel, which will help to boost our slowing economy.
Unemployment rates will unfortunately probably remain the same. Manpower, Inc. said Monday that its survey of United States companies’ hiring intentions for the first three months of 2002 barely registered a pulse, a weakness not seen since the recessionary early months of 1991. Unemployment numbers will continue to climb up through the winter and spring even as and if a recovery takes hold (Pellegrini). Our commitment together to boost the nation’s economy will ensure a bright future.
America’s future seems to be based on our new ideas formed since September 11, but yet we still carry on the problems of the past. There is still many Americans living in poverty. There is still illegal drugs that infest our nation with addiction and crime that encircles the drug trade. There are many children not getting a good education and many of whom who are fearful of violence at our schools. It is up to us as Americans to face these problems head on now more than ever before. The nation’s most important problems to tackle and change are our illegal drug problem, the lack of good education for those of all ages, and to end the terrorist situation.
The United States War on Drugs has done little to stop the sources of the problem and has only persecuted the user. The nation’s children are often trying these illegal drugs at early ages despite drug education. These children also happen to lack in nearly every subject when compared to other nations around the globe. Many of the free nations of the world are dealing with terrorism and we all hope for a solution that will prevent any further violent acts committed against innocent people. The situation in Afghanistan actually began in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded their country. The United States funded money to the mujahedin, or holy warriors, in the name of stopping communism. From this support, Afghanistan was able to defeat the Soviet Union in 1989.
Yet the country became very unstable after the war. Political power was fluctuating often and leaders came in and out of power rapidly. Farmers resorted to growing many drugs such as poppies and marijuana and sold them around the globe. Cities were annihilated. Over five million Afghanis fled to other countries in search of a better life. When the Afghanis turned to the United States for help in rebuilding our country, we refused. This caused great anger amongst the Afghani people directed toward the United States.
This also lead to Mullah Mohammod Omar, the current leader of Afghanistan, to form a ground of men to rebuild his country. They are now known as the Taliban. Omar’s personal description is, A simple band of dedicated youths determined to establish the laws of God on Earth and prepared to sacrifice everything in pursuit of that goal. The Taliban have many radical believes including the idea of the never ending holy war or, jihad. Since the original forming of the Taliban, they have taken over 90 percent of Afghanistan with some assistance from Pakistan. Now that number is probably much lower due the war efforts there. Osama bin Laden himself gave the Taliban over three million dollars in 1996 to take over Afghanistan’s capital (McGeary 14).
Another source of the Middle Eastern peoples hate for the United States stems from our involvement with Israel. The United States has had a strong influence on Middle Eastern politics, which usually involve backing Israel. The United States supports Israel economically by giving them $840 million annually. Israel also obtains much military support from the United States, funds exceeding $3 billion and access to our weaponry (Beyer 19). Arabic people are also infuriated with American culture being thrust upon them, while they themselves cannot live our life of freedom and luxuries. Many of these people may wish to live our way of life, yet there are many who want to live the traditions of their past and want no American involvement.
The main question on most American’s minds is what happens after Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda are destroyed. The al-Qaeda has provided training and inspiration to about 11,000 men–according to United Stated intelligence estimates–who passed through it’s Afghan camps (Cloud). Most intelligent analysts agree that the network of terrorist could function without its leaders. Irene Stoller, former director of France’s anti-terror division states, This movement, these groups, are far too spread out, diffuse and fluid for a single operation to knock them out. bin Laden and his lieutenants may seem from the outside like super-managers of international Islamist terror, but the real planning and execution is carried out at lower levels. (Cloud). Many experts believe after the war, many terrorists will travel home to their native lands or travel to free countries and regroup with other like-minded people.
Cloud states, Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, the most senior figure worrying the United States investigators is Mustafa Ahmed, a.k.a. Shaikh Saiid, the bin Laden business manager and September 11 paymaster who was in the United Arab Emirates until shortly before the attacks. Ahmed has the skills and connections to put together funding for another terrorist operation–and he doesn’t need bin Laden’s money. Investigators have learned over the past few weeks that al-Qaeda’s money comes from many varied sources beyond bin Laden, including gem miners who help raise funds for the group in Tanzania; contraband traders in the Muslim-heavy border region where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet; and workers at charities throughout the MidEast… The long term solution requires tackling of underlying political, economic, and social roots of terrorism–unresolved demands for Palestinian rights, perversion of Islam by radical clerics, corruption and poverty in many Arab states and grievances over United States policy in the region.
Although the United States continue to battle the terrorists in Afghanistan, the terrorists continue to attack us here the United States. For over a month, federal investigators have tried to the follow the trail of anthrax victims in hope of finding a source. So far this strain of anthrax has killed five people and infected 13 others. This strain of anthrax, known as Ames, originated from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Investigators now believe that, Ames may have slipped through an informal network of scientists to Iraq, which sought the strain from a British bio-defense institute in 1988 but whose application was rejected because of concerns that it would be used to manufacture biological weapons (Fainaru). Federal investigators have also proved that the strain Ames, which appeared in Florida, is also the same that was discovered in Connecticut, Washington, and New York. Yet discovering the strain is Ames has done little to display who is using the strain in such a violent way. Ames has been recognized for its resistance to vaccines and is a natural strain from a diseased cow. Slowly, investigators are tracing the movement of Ames to discover who sent the anthrax mailings, but it will be difficult because many samples and mutations of this strain have been sent out across the country and could have fallen into the wrong hands.
Especially Iraqi hands that have wanted the pathogen for a considerable amount of time (Fainaru). As Americans, it is most important to feel safe here living in the United States and protect our freedoms. In order to continue to cope with the terrorist situations, we must face the reality. First it is important for bin-Laden and al-Qaeda’s fighters to be hunted down and stopped before they can reach another point of safe haven in a country that will protect them. Secondly, once the war is completed in Afghanistan, the United States should provide medicine, food, and rebuilding money to Afghanistan so we don’t turn our back on them like we did before. The most important idea though is that Relative poverty did not create and does not excuse international terrorism.
But it can build a network of sympathy for those who take up the bomb and gun. Somehow the West, with its commitment to rationalism, belief in the future, confidence in the soothing effects of prosperity, has to learn how to talk to those with a different mental cap, (Elliot). We also should remember that the terrorist attack of September 11 may have murdered more civilians than ever in our history, but it did not destroy our spirit. It is important for all of us to continue on with our daily lives and remember those lost. We should accept the tightening of security and laws at places and understand they are for our protection.
We should fight terrorism with understanding (Alter). As Americans, we should continue to fight these new problems facing us and to try and tackle the old problems as well. Our children are our most important future and we need to protect them and educate them better than ever before. There are many reasons why the nation’s educational system is failing its children. Originally, formal schooling was set up to Americanize immigrants (Lieberman 41).
There has been a decline in birthrates since the 1960s, yet lower socioeconomic group’s birth rates remain the same. This means more middle-class and lower class children are attending public school, while though upper class children are attending private schools. Adults in low-income families are less activity politically and generally are less involved in their children’s education (Lieberman 9). There has also been a great increase in the population of senior citizens. Those older than 45 make up 35.9% of the population. Senior citizens tend to care less about supporting monies for education and more about health care.
In 1987, federal spending on senior citizens per person averaged around $10,000, while average spending per child was only $854 (Lieberman 21). Changes in the family such as single parent homes, divorces, and poverty affect the education of chil …