The VigilanceVoice

Saturday-- May 11, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 242

Osama bin Laden Is Alive And Well...
Disguised as a Northern Pike!
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 11--Osama bin Laden is alive and well and hiding in Lake Davis in Plumas County, California.  He's taken on the disguise of a Northern Pike.
         The State of California has been conducting a massive military campaign to eliminate him that includes precision bombing, electrocution and futile attempts to poison him.  The Terrorist survives despite massive efforts to destroy him and all of his children.
       In a sense, the infamous Terrorist has transformed himself into a Northern Pike--commonly known to the 20,000 residents of Plumas County as "saw-tooth Satan spawns."     
        The Northern Pike, a fast-breeding rapacious species considered a prize catch in its native habitat east of the Mississippi, is considered a savage outlaw and "unconscionable Terrorist" to the residents of Plumas County who depend on tourists seeking the joys of trout fishing in Lake Davis.
      The Northern Pike are decimating the trout fishery of Lake Davis, 45 miles west of Reno.  According to California Fish and Game officials, the "Terror Fish" is considered a savage outlaw that consumes any trout in sight.  Its hunger is as insatiable as its ability to escape all attempts to bomb, poison and electrocute it out of existence.
     No one knows how the Northern Pike got into the famous trout-rich lake.  All they know for sure is that the trout are disappearing and the Northern Pike are growing.
    In 1997 the Department of Fish and Game poisoned the lake, killing the pike and every other living thing in it.   The poison, rotenone, also destroyed the local town's drinking water supply and leaked past where it was supposed to, killing fish for five miles downstream.  The county's fishing business went blank for a year and crippled its economy.
     In a scenario not unlike the one the United States is embroiled in as it unsuccessfully attempts to hunt down Terrorist Osama bin Laden, the California Fish and Game Department officials have tried just about everything to destroy the ravenous trout-eaters.
      In 1999 they brought in a "special forces assault team" composed  of big brown trout. The brown trout's mission was to "eat the pike."   The theory was great--"my fish is bigger than your fish!"  However, the brown trout decided the Northern Pike weren't suitable for their taste, and began to eat other fish.  So much for the "special forces." (brown trout on the right)
      In a parallel strategy used by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, the embattled Fish and Game warlords tried to envelope the Northern Pike and herd them into areas where they attempted to net them.  They even tried electrocution.
      They built barriers underwater and ensnared the pike in areas where they hoped the the "Terror Fish" would be driven by hunger to eat their own spawn (eggs), but found the voracious fish liked to munch on ducks and snakes and other small animals along with trout. Starvation was not a viable tactic.
     Again, aping the relentless air strikes by U.S. bombers to drive al Queda Terrorists into the open, the Fish and Game Department tried strategic bombing against the prehistoric-looking pike.  A couple of weeks ago they bombed one acre of the lake.  They used 1,000 feet of detonation cord placed just below the water's surface.  The bombing, according to the New York Times, killed all the pike within 25 feet of the detonation.  Unfortunately, these were pike that the agency had put in cages in the test area.  All the uncaged pike in the area got away.   However, there was collateral damage--the bombing killed two free-roaming rainbow trout.
     As in most wars America wages, reparation was immediately offered to the local residents for the collateral damage.  Senior biologist for the Department of Fish and Game, Ivan Paulsen, said the State of California would replace the number of trout lost to any bombing by "supplying two live trout for each one bombed out of the water."
     The reparation comment drove me back to memories of Vietnam.   In 1966 we were on a search and destroy mission.  As we swept across a rice paddy a water buffalo charged us.  We killed it, as water buffalo--used by farmers as oxen--seemed to have an instinctive hatred for Americans.   At the same moment a pair of eyes appeared from a thicket of grass.   Instinctively, we fired, thinking it was a Viet Cong lying in ambush.  Unfortunately, it was a young girl, frightened and hiding.
     The chief of the village nearby ran screaming at us.   He was upset - the water buffalo had been killed!   As an experiment in bolstering relations with the Vietnamese, Washington had issued an "instant reparation" program.   Attached to our group was a Marine Captain who carried a sheaf of papers listing the value of certain items such as a hut, cooking ware, clothes and other household and personal items, as well as livestock.   He and the chief haggled.  The Captain looked through the sheaf of papers and then peeled off a handful of "dong"--Vietnamese currency.  
      Curious as to what was happening, I approached the Captain and asked what he was doing.  The Captain showed me the list of "instant reparation" items.  "We pay for our damage as we go," he said, "it improves relations with the people."
      I asked if I could take a look at the list.  He handed it to me.  I glanced through each page and then handed it back.  "Where is the price of a human being?" I asked.
      "We don't pay for them," he answered curtly.
      "Well, we just killed a fourteen-year-old girl by accident. You mean a water buffalo has more value than a human being?"
      "That's right, Marine!  Who the hell are you, anyway?"
      I walked away, sloughing through the tepid rice paddy water toward the scene of the dead girl whose mother knelt beside her and wailed mournfully.  A sheaf of papers without a price for a human life, I thought.   How insane!  How insane!
       Two rainbow trout for every one killed.   As I read the words, I realized the attempt to make good one's mistakes, but at some point in time the price of something becomes immeasurable.   Two replacement daughters for the Vietnamese woman would not compensate her for the one she lost--perhaps a hundred or a thousand would never equal the loss of her daughter, or even approach it.
       In my own way, I still pay for that life.   Often I awaken at night to the young girl's eyes looking through the grass--two wide-eyed orbs staring at us--and I wish the clock could be turned back.  She is my Northern Pike--a symbol of how Terrorism can ravage one's Emotional well being for life.
       I view the Northern Pike in Lake Davis as an example of the constant threat Terrorism represents to our society.  Once it takes root in the marrow of a society, as it has since September 11th, it doesn't let loose.  It continues to spawn.   No matter what the State of California has done so far to rid the "enemy" from the lake, the pike reappear, seemingly impervious to all attacks.   In so many ways, this is exactly what is happening with Terrorism.  No matter what we seem to do, it rears its ugly head here or there, killing, maiming and then hiding to attack again and again.  In Russia on May 9th, Terrorists loaded a bomb with nails and chunks of metal and blew it up during a parade, killing 12 children.   In Germany, a student walked into his school and began systematically killing teachers.  Yesterday, Cardinal Law sought an injunction so his depositions regarding the mishandling of child molestation priests would not be published until he chance to edit them for "mistakes" in his testimony.  In Bethlehem, Terrorists under siege in the Church of the Nativity were set free and exiled to live in Europe where many believe they will perpetuate their ideals as a compromise for prosecuting them for their crimes against humanity.
      The battle with the Northern Pike is symbolic of the battle against Terrorism.  It tells us that governments alone are not efficient tools to deal with the problem.  It suggests we need a world community of citizens to help decide the outcome of Terrorism, a coalition of both Parents of Vigilance, Communities of Vigilance, States of Vigilance, and Nations of Vigilance rather than a few "government leaders" deciding the fate of the terror around the world.
     While the Northern Pike Terrorism story is a drop in the bucket in relation to the world of Osama bin Laden's, it foreshadows a microcosmic look at how we really need to deal with the threat of Terrorism.
   .   During the initial efforts to rid the lake of the "terror fish," the Department of Fish and Game took command of the effort and alienated the community.  A few "leaders" decided what was to be done at the exclusion of public opinion or public input.
      Without the agreement from the community of Portola, the poisoning of the lake and contamination of the local drinking water created a virtual uprising.     In 1997 150 police officers, including SWAT teams and sharpshooters, were brought in to quell the protests against the poisoning.  Twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) in fees and fines were paid by the state in reparation to people sickened by poison fumes and to businesses afflicted by the loss of commerce.
      Terrorism begat Terrorism. .  The cure became more harsh than the ailment.  After the confrontation, government decided to enlist the aid of the community in the fight against the Northern Pike.
       Bill Powers, mayor of Portola says the result is the town has become a "Community of Vigilance," rather than a "Community of Terrorism."
      In an act of desperation as well as humility, the Fish and Game Department formed Lake Davis Steering Committee and stocked it with local and country residents.  The Committee also includes officials from Fish and Game and related agencies such as the Department of Water Services.
      Acting in concert with the community, state and local meetings are held regarding how to most effectively protect not only Lake Davis from the Northern Pike Terrorists, but also how to keep them from moving downstream to Terrorize the open waters of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Deltas where they could decimate California's dwindling salmon and steelhead populations as well as other species.
      The enlistment of the community, or, perhaps better put, the community's insistence on being "enlisted" in the battle against the Northern Pike, is an example of the need for Community Vigilance in all battles against Terrorists.
      The government, acting alone, without the support of the grass roots community, cannot solve Northern Pike Terrorism or Osama bin Laden-type Terrorism.   Terrorism attacks local people, innocent children and women.  It is a "doorstep" enemy, a neighborhood virus not a national one.
      Homeland Security cannot protect our children from the poisonous venom of Terrorism when policies are designed in an governmental vacuum and  issued from the top down.  Just ask the California State Department of Fish and Game.
       Instead, such anti-Terrorism policies need to rise up from the local communities, meeting the government half-way, in a partnership similar to the coalition created in Portola.
      The ultimate responsibility of any effective anti-Terrorism policy is not to "kill Osama bin Laden," but rather to rid the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that Terrorism injects in a child.  These policies begin at the doorsteps of each of the 100 million households in America, not on the floors of the Senate or Congress.
       Terrorism is a state of mind.   A suicide bomber only kills the innocent to inflict Fear and create Intimidation and drive societies into a state of Complacency.   The killing isn't as important as the shock waves it creates in its attempt to poison the minds of its future victims that they are helpless to fight back.  Terrorism is all about using one's power to intimidate, killing is just a side dish on its plate.
       All the metal detectors and bomb sniffing dogs in the world cannot shield one from Terrorism.   Only Courage, Conviction and taking the Right Actions by the citizens of a community counters Terrorism.  When  Terrorists realize the citizens of a community are not  Fearful of their violence, or Intimidated by it, or driven into states of Complacency by it, only then will we create a viable defense against their Emotional Venom.  
       The community of Portola, California reached this conclusion after its community was ravished by both the Northern Pike and the government's ill-fated attempts to solve the problem.   Bill Powers, the mayor of the city, had chained himself to a buoy in the lake to stop the poisoning. (Lake Davis on the right and below)   Now that the government and community are acting together to resolve the problem, Powers praises the State Fish and Game Department.   It was his Courage, his Conviction and the taking of Right Action that shifted the emphasis from government rule against Terrorism to Community-Government teamwork.
       Fran Roudebush, a former Plumas County supervisor who considered the Department of Fish and Game public enemy No. 1, is now chairwoman of its steering committee as well as head of the local Save Lake Davis Coalition. Ms. Roudebush (see photo on left) recently won the American Hometown Leadership award from the National Center for Small Communities.
      Her community is even talking about re-poisoning the lake, but doing it during the the right time of year, with the right water temperature and the right amount and type of poison.  "But if we do it," Ms. Roudebush says, "it's because the community says, 'This is what we want.'"
      What do American communities want regarding the fight against Terrorism?   This will only be answered when coalitions against Terrorism are formed at the grass roots level, as they have been in Portola against the Northern Pike.
      The Parents of Vigilance Principles call upon each local community to form Vigilance Leagues.   While these "leagues" have a responsibility to work with local, state and national agencies regarding "physical terrorism" protection, there is also another charge that is more powerful.  It is the community recognition and goal to insure its children are not Emotionally as well as Physically poisoned by Terrorism.
       In a more perfect world, all of us concern ourselves with each other's welfare--not only outside but inside.   In such a state, Emotional Abuse of a child becomes as important as Physical Abuse, and, perhaps, more so.  While external wounds may heal, internal ones tend to last a lifetime.
      Societies that are Vigilant about the welfare of child's "state of mind" as well as his or her "state of body," enjoy the richest harvests of their prodigy.    The community of Portola melded their brainpower to resolve the threat of Terrorism with the government, a unity of forces rather than a unilateral effort.
      Becoming a Parent of Vigilance does not mean one usurps his or right to parent a child as he or she feels best, but it does suggest that Terrorism of the child needs constant Vigilance so that the Northern Pike don't infest the child's lake and poison his or her ability to swim free, not worrying about the Osama's bin Laden's lurking in the bull rushes.
     It means we need to start organizing today, to protect our lakes from the voracious Northern Pike who are swimming toward us.

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