Article Overview:  Rats!  Not just normal Rats, but New York City Rats!   They symbolize a form of Terrorism that stalks us all, a kind that gnaws on the marrow of our being.  How do we fight the Rats of Terror?  Find out.


Thursday--August 14, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 701
Terror Rats Scurry The Streets
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Aug. 14, 2003--  The Rats Of Terrorism Scurry The Streets Of New York City.

There is nothing like a.......R-A-T!!!!

     There’s nothing like a rat.   Nothing like its beady eyes burrowing into you as the flies chew and gnaw at gashes on its own back as it ferrets through the garbage strewn streets of New York City.
      This morning I rose with the sun and made my way to Alphabet City, about a 10-minute walk from my apartment in the East Village.  My mission was to move my daughter’s CJ-7 Jeep onto the street from a secure parking lot I use at night to protect it from human rats who like to take things that don’t belong to them, or, in the case of a Jeep that has only a soft roof and doors, becomes a sleeping place for the vermin of the streets.
       It isn’t beyond imagination that one can open his or her unlocked car’s door and find a street person, reeking of the city’s stench, snoring away inside the vehicle.   Just the other day I opened the Jeep door and found an empty half-pint of vodka on the floor, a sign that someone had either deposited it there or used the driver’s seat to consume the liquid.
       This morning enroute to the parking lot, I dodged the garbage littering the streets.   The human street rats rip through it, searching for food and treasures thrown away by other humans and leave their rejects strewn all over the block.

New York City's heat and humidity and fewer garbage pickups caused a greater influx of rodents

      It is said that someone living off the garbage in the United States eats like a king or queen compared to the majority of the world’s population, and if the disemboweled garbage sacks are any evidence to this fact, the garbage gourmands of New York City represent the ultimate second-hand epicureans.
       Budget cutbacks have heightened the appetite of the human garbage vultures.   Cinching the city’s budget belt, Mayor Bloomberg shaved off certain garbage collections only to find that the streets were swelling with litter, and pungent with the unwelcome aroma of stagnant garbage.   The other day he recanted, putting the garbage collection teams on overtime to keep the streets cleaner.
       Part of the problem has been the heat and humidity.  New York City, as most of the nation, is suffering a heat spell.   Heavy rains and high humidity has fermented the lingering garbage sacks, turning the city’s scent into an odious odor of rotting corpses of black plastic garbage sacks piled like so many dead bodies along the streets, waiting to be crunched and mashed by growling jaws of the city’s sanitation department tanks that prowl the streets at night in a futile effort to keep the 8 million residents of the Big Apple from gagging and choking when they open their front doors in the morning and inhale the day’s oxygen.

One of the many rats exterminated at a NYC fire station that had to be temporarily closed down

Rats are the city's most current Terrorists

        Yesterday was especially hot.  Temperatures shot into the 90’s.  The air hung helplessly, a thick shroud, suffocating any sense of relief to a city inundated with rain, heat, humidity and budget cuts.   This morning the same temperature index as yesterday was predicted.  As I made my way through the streets toward Alphabet City, sidestepping the litter, I thought of the city’s most current Terrorists—the rats.
      Rats love garbage.  Especially baby rats and pregnant rats.  One female rat over a year’s period can produce 285 babies.  
      Reeking garbage is an invitation to Terrorize the population with yet more Fear, Intimidation and Complacency—the tools of Terrorists of all sizes, shapes and kinds.
      Heat and moisture ripen the garbage, giving it a special perfume that stirs the salivary glands of the creatures.  They seem to multiply in this kind of weather.   Their presence drives unsuspecting human beings to scream and recoil in revulsion when the packs of rats shoot between the bags or street-strewn litter, their rapier-like noses and hairless, stringy tails giving them the appearance they are in a NASCAR race and you are the finish line or part of their pit crew. 
      Heat brings out the rat’s aggressive behavior.

Rats don't discriminate between the rich and the poor

      Up at Central Park near 86th Street on the Upper West Side several days ago , an elegant repose for the rich and famous, a number of high quality children’s playgrounds dot the area.  Not infrequently you will spot Seinfeld playing with his child next to your children or grandchildren, or Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawk with their child, or Woody Allen walking his dog.
       Rats don’t discriminate between the rich and the poor, famous and infamous, the somebody’s and nobody’s.   
       They certainly didn’t at the Upper West Side.   A pack of rats, four by the count of my 7-year-old grandson, Matt, and six by his mother's (my older daughter) count, invaded the pristine children’s playground.
        On their backs they carried fully mature horseflies, with iridescent wings and big black octagon eyes, a seeming symbiosis of plague.   It was as though the flies knew the rats were their taxis to feast upon the delicacies of the elite.  They clung voraciously to the shiny fur of the rats, forming clusters similar to Special Ops insurgents aboard Blackhawk helicopters heading for a mission to Terrorize the enemy.
        “Rats,” my grandson yelled.  “Lots of rats!”
        Strange creatures fascinate seven-year-old boys, and Matt is a Discovery Channel and National Geographic fan.   He will watch with the intensity of a surgical medical student as specialized photographers reveal the endless battles of nature, showing bugs eating bugs, frogs eating bugs, snakes eating frogs, lions eating water buffalo, alligators eating zebras.
        What’s a rat or two to a kid who understands the fascination of the food chain, or that all creatures have their Andy Warhol fifteen-minutes of fame.
        But, to the exclusive human beings who expect the Upper West Side to not be like Alphabet City, the rat invasion was as scary as a Terrorist suicide bomber blowing himself up in the middle of their street, or the residents of Harlem marching through their neighborhoods.
       The parity of the rats in Alphabet City and the Upper West Side reminded me that Terrorism knows no boundaries.  And, when the rats at the Upper West Side playground started to attack pigeons, leaping at them as though to sink their fangs and sharp claws into their throats, the Terror threat heightened.
        Our grandson became the self-appointed Sentinel of Vigilance.   He stood guard near the benches where the rats were clustered and warned unsuspecting mothers with their baby carriages of the danger.
         “Lady, there’s a pack of rats there.  Don't sit there!”
         Terrorism, I’ve discovered since the attack of Nine Eleven, has many disguises.   It isn’t just about bombs and bullets and Weapons of Mass Destruction.   It can be an intravenous injection of Fear, Intimidation or Complacency, shot through a human being’s psyche by a wide range of circumstances from the mundane to the horrific.

Internal terrorism can make a rat invasion seem like a gnat on an elephant's ass

        A child excited to share his or her day with parents, rushes home to tell the household some exciting news, only to brushed aside by the parents’ comments, “Don’t bother us, can’t you see we’re busy.”   Or, “Don’t speak until you’re spoken to.”  Or, “Why didn’t you get that award last month.  Aren’t you trying to be the best?”   Or, “You can do better, that award means nothing.”
         Rats may be welcome to a child who is walled off from what he or she expects should be parents’ love and caring.
         Then there is the adult who looks in the mirror and sees a “loser,” or a “failure,” or someone whose life has been “wasted,” or considers himself or herself a “victim” of life’s cruelty, a doormat upon which the hoards march on their way to achieve what is rightfully the victim’s.
          Internal Terrorism of this nature makes the rat invasion a gnat on an elephant’s ass, for while rats come and go, the Terror of self depreciation snarls and growls with every thought, making its owner flinch, duck and weave as though being hunted by Saddam Hussein.
          Still, the rats are real.
          Estimates of their presence in the city range from as low as six per person, some 48 million total, to nearly 100 million, about a 12:1 ratio.

Bibliographic Entry

(w/surrounding text)


Rats Love New York; That Doesn't Make Them Welcome. New York Times. 12 July 2000.

"No one knows how many rats live in the city. Some citizens have lamented that there have to be at least eight or nine rats per person. A more common conclusion is one rat per human. City health officials say these are all guesses. "We don't do rat tail counts," a Health Department spokeswoman said."

64 - 72 million

DING DON, the Wicked Witch is Dead. Rudy Giuliani. 2002.

"There is currently an ongoing 'Rat Summit in NYC to discuss our 12:1 ratio of rats to human in NYC."

96 million

NYC Struggles With Millions of Rats. Agrizap. 9 July 2000.

"New York's rat problem extends far beyond the halls of its public housing. Bill Perkins, chairman of the City Council's Select Committee on Pest Control, estimates that there are nine rats for every person in the city - a rat population of about 70 million."

70 million

Pests or Pet? Gotham Gazette.

"Some estimates tell us that there are as many as six rats for every one New Yorker. If that is accurate (and nobody really knows), that means there are close to 44 million rats in New York City."

44 million

Heaven or Hell? 29 May 2002. NYC Rats.

"And in just one year, a single female rat can produce as many as 285 brand new rats who are up and running in a matter of weeks. Rats, according to conservative estimates, outnumber human New Yorkers about 6 to 1."

48 million

          For Stats on Rats Go To:

          No authority in the city will say exactly what the rat population is at any time.   In fact, they deny the number for good reason.  Dr. Patrick Thomas, the curator of mammals at the Bronx Zoo states "They are an extraordinarily adaptable and hardy breed."
          In 1997, NYC had a budget of 8 million dollars to spend on exterminators, toxic pesticides.  In 2000, the budget increased to 13 million dollars.
          To pronounce a number means there is a measure of the success of failure of rat control, just as the Homeland Security Department will not issue out a estimated number of Terrorists in the United States.   Were they to do so, everyone would want to know what was being done to reduce the number of Terrorists, and, when that effort failed, all the Homeland Security programs would be flushed down the toilet as failures.
         No data is good data to the Terror-Hunters of government.

The above "witch hunt" terror hunt proved to be Kentucky windage

     Senator Joe McCarthy fell victim to attaching numbers to Terrorism.   At the height of the Cold War, he led a campaign of Terrorizing the Terrorists.   He claimed there were a “certain number of Terrorists” both in the U.S. government and in arts and entertainment.
         The House on Un-American Activities launched what is now known as a “witch hunt” to uncover and discover those persons who had “communist” ties, and then sought to blackball or smear their reputations and images.   At the time, the nation was undergoing a heat wave of suspicion and prejudice against anything “red,” and spent millions upon millions of taxpayer’s dollars to sling dung at those who appeared to be “commie pinko rats.”
        In the end, the shame of it all fell upon the shoulders of government.   Terror-hunting with numbers became a death knell.   No one could affirm their suspicions in the final analysis, so data became nothing more than Kentucky windage fabrication.

Most victims of Terrorism wallow in the rat-infested garbage of their self-depreciation

        Rat data falls into the same category.
        The sour scent of fermenting garbage, the heat, and the lack of collection all conspire to create a feast for rats.   The population swells as supply rises and demand increases.    In its own way, the rats are nothing more than Nature’s flow of resources:  the more garbage the more need for rats to eat it.
         Terrorism works the same way.  The more vulnerable a society to Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, the more Terrorism will spread.  It becomes viral in nature, expanding geometrically as the cracks in the dam open.
          The recent attempt to sell a surface to air missile by an arms dealer in the United States illustrates only the tip of the iceberg.  The real question is:  “How many surface-to-air missiles have been sold that haven’t been captured, exposed to the public?”
        In consumer relation’s management, for every complaint lodged, it is projected a minimum of ten others did not lodge theirs.  This silent majority, or Complacent Majority, is the real concern.
        Most people who are victims of Terrorism don’t report it.
        They wallow in the rat-infested garbage of their self-depreciation, accepting their “lot in life,”  usually verbalizing their disgust for others who seem to have what they want, or attack groups for shouting about the great injustices they have suffered.
         Like breeding rats, they spill their venom over to their children who model their parents’ behavior and grow into reflections of the sewage of the self they have swum in through their upbringing.

Rats of Terror attack our mental garbage and blind us to Vigilance

         Parents who express prejudice or bigotry against other groups, races, cultures, ethnicities fertilize their children’s minds with disgust for others.
         This is not just the domain of the lower classes, or middle classes.  The wealthy, the “privileged” often look upon others as being of the “lower” domain, the “unwashed.”   They raise their noses from the smell of the streets and rush about their lives avoiding as much contact with the mainstream as possible, falsely believing they are “above the salt.”
         This Terrorism of Pride and Arrogance is as destructive as that of Victimization and Self Loathing.   The Rats of Terror can gnaw at anyone’s bones, rich or poor, especially of  those trying to ride the middle of the tracks.
         This morning I thought about Rat Terror.   Inside all our minds is garbage.   Our thoughts sometimes reek with the odor of thoughts that turn our self image into bags of refuse strewn on the sidewalks of self-image.
         When this happens, the rats, like sharks sniffing blood, swarm.   They attack our mental garbage, bringing with them the flies that foul our image even more intently, blinding us to the necessity of Vigilance.
         New York City budget cutbacks, a good idea from a fiscal point-of-view, had a severe backlash.  The reduction of garbage collection services increased the demand for rats, creating a health and public safety concern.   Complacency created Terrorism.
         Each of us needs to manage the rat population in our minds.   We can ill afford to allow our thinking to sink into a garbage pile and ferment.
         Unfortunately, it happens.   We often never know we are being swallowed by the Beast of Terror until we are being digested in his or her acidic guts.   Our lives become ruts and we find ourselves giving up, accepting our “lots” and the garbage collection stops.  Instead of the trash truck pulling up and removing the waste, we let it accumulate.  Stacks of it form mountains on other stacks.  The stench factor rises until the rats are summoned, and not just one or two, but legions of them appear, carrying the flies on their backs.
         Vigilance, however, can and will protect us.

Terrorism's trash is Fear, Intimidation and Complacency

         Terrorism’s trash is Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  These are the Triads of Terrorism.  The Principles of Vigilance—Courage, Conviction and Right Actions in behalf of the Children’s Children’s Children—are the true sanitation workers.
          When we exercise the Muscle of Vigilance in our minds, we start the engines of Vigilance.   The trash collector of Courage comes roaring up to pick up the garbage of Fear.   Behind it growls the engines of Conviction, arriving to throw the bags of Intimidation into the back of truck and squash them.   Finally, our Sanitation Trucks of Vigilance drive out to the dump, and deposit the waste into heaps.   These are the Dumps of Complacency, the worst of all the elements of Terrorism.  Complacency tells us that our job is make the job of Vigilance someone else’s duty.   Complacency makes us think we are not capable or able to defend ourselves from Terrorism, or that we are too far gone, our lives too wasted, our failures too monumental to dig ourselves out of the quagmire.
       That’s where the final Principle of Vigilance, Right Actions for the Children’s Children’s Children comes to our rescue.
        When we realize that our true duty is to be a Pied Piper, and play the tunes of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for future generations, we realize we can lead the Rats of Terror to the dump.   We can steer them away from the innocent.  We can overpower their hunger to eat at the marrow of those we love and care for the most—the innocent.

Terrorism is about seeing the Rats of Terror circling

       No matter how lowly one thinks of one’s self, or how loftily one thinks he or she is above others, the ultimate truth remains that we are all Sentinels of Vigilance, duty-bound to insure the world is safe from Terrorism for the Children’s Children’s Children’s sake.
        This includes not only the children in our immediate families, our most cherished loved ones, but also those of all nations, all ethnicities, all forms of cultures, religions and economic levels.
        I find it doubtful the worst of us would walk past a child who was being attacked by hungry rats and not do something to protect the child.
        Terrorism is about seeing the Rats of Terror circling.
        It forces us to decide whether we are going to turn our heads and walk away, or stand and fight the rats with the Sword and Shield of Vigilance.
        You can start today.
         Take the Pledge of Vigilance.   Vow to fight the Rats of Terror.

Aug 13-- Creating an Anti-Terrorism Constitution in Iraq

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