Article Overview:   On an evening of  Broadway magic under the stars, a cab swerves out of no where to attack a Jewish man standing on a corner.  It is an act of Taxi Terrorism, intending to inflict Fear, Intimidation and Complacency upon its victim.   It is a reminder that Terrorism is lurking, waiting for us to fall asleep.   Find out how to combat Taxi Terror.


Tuesday--June 17, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 643
Taxi Terror
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, New York--June 17, 2003-- Last night my wife and I went to over twenty Broadway musicals, plus a near-miss Terrorist attack.
     It could only happen in New York City.   Well, perhaps the Terror attack could have happened anywhere, for that matter.

     Behind the New York Public Library is a huge block of green called Bryant Park.   It is a gathering place for people at lunch who work near Times Square and a respite for thousands on weekends.  The park is also an open theater for a multitude of performances, including circuses that come to the Big Apple, annual fashion shows, and public concerts.
      Last night Broadway showed up.

The 2nd Annual Broadway Under The Stars

       AOL Time Warner presented the 2nd Annual Broadway Under The Stars, billed to be hosted by Antonio Banderas and his wife, Melanie Griffith. 
        Twenty-seven Broadway performances were slated, with top stars such as Chita Rivera, Jane Krakowski, Liz Callawy, Mark Kudish, Andrea McArdle, Marin Mazzie and a special appearance by Jewel performed to lawn-packed audience of more than 10,000 people packed like sardines in one of New York's more famous public venues.
        Unfortunately, Antonio Banderas was inflicted with a sore throat and fever, so wife Melanie brought a picture of him and posted it on the stage attempting to appease the audience.
      Introducing the performers were Edie Falco, Mary Stuart Masterson, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Allyson Tucker.
      It was a chilly night with a stiff wind coursing through the tall buildings, reminding everyone that while the Broadway singers were warm and fuzzy, the world still carried a sharp sting to it.
     That draft was the breath of the Beast of Terror.

      I staked out a table on the edge of the grass about 4:30 p.m.  The show was slated to start at 8 p.m.  My wife came about 5:30.  I had my laptop and pounded out some stories before the crowd pressed in and made any kind of concentration impossible.
     To guard our spot, we took bathroom breaks in shifts.
     Anyone familiar with New York City knows that finding a bathroom is one of the constant challenges one faces in mega-urban living.   Toys 'R Us was a couple of long blocks away, and as grandparents we knew the facilities well because we often take our grandkids there.  It is the world's largest toy store, replete with a huge Ferris wheel and a giant, animated dinosaur.  It sits in the heart of Times Square.
      My wife took the first bathroom break.  It took her nearly an hour to push, cajole and wend her way through the bodies crushing into the park and do her toilet as well return with a steak sandwich from TAD's, a famous steakhouse where you can order a 24-ounce, juicy  T-bone steak, potato and salad for $15--a deal in a city where beef is usually sold a high premium.

The tall buildings were sentinels above and around the park revelers

      We didn't get a chance to talk about her near Terror attack until after the show, for when she returned I left to squeeze through the sardine-packed crowd--a wall of human flesh all late-comers trying to find a patch of grass or gravel to capture one of New York's big events: Broadway in one spot for one performance and all for free.
         I'm not a big Broadway fan for I hate the small seats and, unless I'm right up front, I drift off.   And, for $150 to $250 for best-house seats, I'd rather capture all the stars in one evening than jam my 270-pound, 6-4 frame into a midget-sized seat next to a lady who just enrolled in Overeaters Anonymous and failed her first test.
       By the time I got back, the show started.

      For the next couple of hours it was engaging, exciting, energy-filled and lyrically beautiful when singers such as Linda Eder sang "Someone Like You" from Jekyll and Hyde. 

Les Miserables

      Sitting behind us were the father, an aunt and other relatives of a young girl named Christiana Anbri who sang a duet with a boy, William Ullrich, from the show Oliver.  Anbri had starred in Les Miserables before the show's recent losing.  We cheered along with them and rooted and hooted when the song ended.
       As the show ended and we started to follow the herds of people out of the park toward the subways at 42nd Street, my wife relayed the story of the near Terror attack.
       My wife is a Terror attack veteran.   She's been assaulted twice in New York, surviving both attempts.   Right after we arrived we took a tai chi course.   One evening as my wife was walking up on 14th street in the early evening, a man tried to rip off her purse.   She smoothly moved into one  of the tai chi positions we had been learning--a shift to one leg, a half turn, a cock of the elbow and a slam of the elbow into the attacker's chest.
       It worked.  He was knocked back and down, and my wife rushed away.

        On another occasion, she was walking around the Cooper Union, a world-famous architectural school a few blocks from our house.  She took a short cut where there was some construction, and as she stepped over a piece of lumber a hand shot out and grabbed at her ankle.   Instincts prevailed and she smashed the hand with her other foot and sped off, escaping Terrorism's grips a second time.
        She also witnessed the attack on Nine Eleven and saw the planes smashing into the World Trade Center from the East Village where we live.   And, of course, she has lived with me for more than four decades--a more valid form of her ability to withstand Terrorism of all degrees.
        But there was a shocking awareness of Terrorism's current reality brought to bear upon her last evening.
        On her trek to find a bathroom and get a sandwich prior to the performance, she was waiting at a busy corner to cross 7th Avenue.   Pedestrians edge a few feet into the street to get a jump on the street light, or to cross when the one-way traffic flow dissipates.

A yellow cab driver intentionally swerved his car to scare a Jew

         My wife was standing next to a Jewish man who was wearing his yarmulke, a small cap Jewish men wear.    As they spied the traffic coming up the street, my wife noted one of the 11,000 Yellow Cabs that dart and weave around the city bearing down toward them.  Suddenly, it swerved, aimed directly at the Jewish man next to her.  They both jumped back and looked into the glaring face of a driver wearing a turban.
         "He tried to run you over!"  My wife related she gasped out the words.  "He tried to hit you!"
         "I know," the Jewish man said.  "They do that all the time."
         "The Muslims.  They try to run us over."
         My wife, Lori, didn't get a chance to ask any more questions.  The Jewish "target of opportunity" rushed across the street, disappearing into the thickening crowd.
         "There's a lesson here, Cliff," Lori said calmly.  "Don't stand next to a Jewish person on the edge of the street - especially where there may be taxis passing by."
          I felt a chill.
          After Nine Eleven, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek story about the 11,000 cabs and 44,000 drivers of Yellow Cabs, suggesting they were part of a Middle Eastern conspiracy.  If there was an attack on the nation, mobilizing all the cab drivers as suicide bombers would do more damage to the city than a fleet of planes smashing into buildings.

I became upset when cabs went from this..... this

          I became upset about the fact that on one single day all the cabs that had been flying American flags suddenly went naked.   Overnight the flags disappeared.   I was convinced there had been an organized effort to put them on the cabs, and, an equally organized effort to remove them when the "coast got clear."
          If, I proposed, there was the ability for instant appearance and dispense of "cab flags," then there must be a powerful communication flow between all the cab drivers.  I let my imagination flow and thought, "what a great network for al-Qaeda!   A mechanized division of cabs able to transport Weapons of Mass Destruction anywhere with impunity.   If they could hoist and unhoist flags in unison, why not pack their trunks with fertilizer and ram them into buildings?
          I paid little attention to my conspiracy theory, even though for months I asked every cab driver I rode with why he took down his flag, and got the same response--"it wore out and new ones are too expensive."
          I also figured I'd not fuel the fires of prejudice or false accusation.   While humorous, the idea was also inflammatory.
          But after my wife told me the story of the Jewish man, and her eyewitness of the event, I began to reconsider the idea.
          What if they cab drivers were just waiting?
          Perhaps the drivers were practicing their sharp shooting by picking out targets to do dry runs, practice sorties to insure that the day the command came down, they could zero in on certain people at certain corners to inflict maximum casualties.

Israeli and Palestinian conflict

         Despite the attempt to get the Roadmap to Peace moving at high speed, Terrorism between the Israelis and Palestinians is boiling.
         If the Jewish man hadn't made the comment--"They do it all the time"--I might have thought the cab incident might be isolated.
         A driver with a burr under his saddle could make a dangerous statement by nearly sideswiping a pedestrian from a country he held great enmity against.
         But then there was that conspiracy theory that rattled about in my nefarious mind.   As a combat vet of more than 100 insurgencies against the Viet Cong and a survivor of the World Trade Center attack, I understood how the enemy worked.
       He waited.  He planned.  He plotted.
       Then, when the time was right, he attacked.
       Complacency, the third and most powerful Triad of Terrorism, which also includes Fear and Intimidation, is the great seducer of Vigilance.
       Complacency makes most people think the worst is over, and forces them to want to believe they don't have to be Sentinels of Vigilance, that they can put the Sword of Vigilance back into its scabbard and pluck flowers and dance around the maypole with impunity.
        These victims of Complacency shout for peace and demand the reduction of arms, the elimination of military spending, the dissolution of involvement in world affairs that "are not our business."
        They promote investigations to castigate government bodies that attack known Terrorists who threaten the world with tyranny and pay suicide bombers $25,000 to kill innocent people, claiming that America falsified intelligence data to "go to war."
        Complacency wants to roll up the borders of Vigilance and snuff out any attempts to cut the legs of the Beast of Terror off before he leaps across oceans and foreign lands to attack the Homeland.  They claim acts of aggression are criminal, illegal, immoral attempts to promote an administration and political agenda, and refuse to look at its long-term strategy to protect the Children's Children's Children. They ignore facts of homicide and genocide committed prior to the attack, and try and turn the Soldiers of Vigilance into Beasts of Terror--all in an effort to strip and denude the power of protection over the land and the world.

I became Complacent toward cab drivers

          I fell victim to this Complacency regarding my instincts about the cab drivers.
        After Nine Eleven, I forgot about them.   I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I became Complacent.
        Certainly, the actions of a some cab drivers does not suggest that every one of the 11,000 Yellow Cabs in New York City are kamikazes, bent on one day wiping out as many Jews in New York as possible.
        But, there is no doubt that some of the drivers believe they are piloting a 4,000-pound steel bomb capable of crushing their "enemy" and willing to swerve out of the traffic flow to strike Fear and Intimidation into those standing on exposed corners.
        And, it is a reminder that Terrorism takes many circuitous forms.   It can twist and worm its way through the traffic of life, appearing to be "normal" until it swerves out of the flow and bears down on a target.
        As a citizen of the world, I don't like the idea of "profiling" the enemy.   New York City police, as other law enforcement agencies, are constantly being monitored for "profiling" certain ethnic groups.  There is a line where the blur of bigotry and prejudice cross and one cannot see anything but hate for another group, regardless of another's innocence.
        I am cautious about crossing that line.
        At the same time, I am a Sentinel of Vigilance.  In Vietnam, I went on numerous ambushes.  I was always aware, as any hunter or hunted, that the "bad guy" can pop out of no where.  I am aware that to survive one must "expect the unexpected."

I must keep my hand on the Sword of Vigilance

        But, I would like peace and prosperity to rule.  I would like the Beast of Terror to be banished from the land.
        Now, I must be extra cautious.  First, I must avoid corners and Jewish people next to me.  I worry about my grandchildren, my daughter standing at a corner waiting to cross with her children, standing next to a Jewish person that may become the target of a mad cab driver, eager to side swipe a person he believes is his enemy.  I worry about such a person taking out the innocent.
         Ultimately, I end up keeping my hand on the hilt of my Sword of Vigilance.
         I hear the music of Broadway in the background, but in the foreground, I hear the trumpet of Vigilance, warning me to not fall Complacent.
         Its music tells me to keep promoting the Pledge of Vigilance.
         Perhaps the Road to Peace should be renamed, the Road to Vigilance.
         Perhaps we all need to sign the Pledge of Vigilance, since the Pledge of Peace isn't working.

June 16--The De-Evolution of Man vs. The Evolution of Women

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