Conditioning the Battlefield: The terror on the Train to France

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Updated: August 29, 2015

Written by John Vinuela; Contributing Author

A few months ago I wrote an article dealing with the possible overuse of, “political correctness” in our society and how it can contribute to a complacent society. I used remembered dialogue from a conversation I had with James, “Smokey” West where he detailed an eyewitness account of a man, from probable Middle Eastern origin, riding the subway from New York to New Jersey. I learned quite a bit from that conversation and wrote about it hoping to share much of the same feeling with the reading audience. There were some interesting turns in our dialogue and as always it was mind opening. He used a term that has stuck with me since: Conditioning the Battle field. Smokey’s claim was that, “political correctness” was simply a catalyst in the process of, “Conditioning the Battle Field” eventually leading to a complacent society. The battle field being where terrorists choose to strike, and that pretty much means anywhere.  What was the battle which warranted Smokey to make such a claim in the first place? The subway. The very same battlefield used in one of the most recent terror attempts: The speed train traveling from Amsterdam Holland to Paris France. I questioned Smokey at length about what he saw and his interpretation of the events that unfolded. To reload, he stated that the man of alleged Middle Eastern decent appeared to be homeless, which led to me questioning what that might have to do with anything in the least.  Side Note: Do Not Do That unless you have a bit of a rapport.
In the conversation that led to the article he asked a few questions which might have been misinterpreted had the objective not been clear. The objective in this case was simply being able to give an accurate description of another human being; however, the overuse of political correctness stopped that process cold. My answers were part of his warrant for his claim. He found it somewhat humorous, but I found it alarming. Stuff sneaks into one’s head and it’s frightening when inventoried. Here are some of the questions, answers, and explanation or lack thereof. This is a dialogue of two people only, and I certainly do not stack myself in an area of authority about any of this other than being a red blooded American who loves his country. Some of these questions, or statements did not show up in the first article because they occurred later in follow up conversations with Smokey.
“He looked like a terrorist; he looked homeless John…” A homeless terrorist, I thought, which led to an interesting discussion about line and posture. In short, body language is key and attire is a close second. Perception is everything. When Smokey used the quoted terms I asked, “What does that look like,” which solidified his point about political correctness. I was avoiding. He went on to give a thorough description, and I instinctively became counter intuitive actively engaging in the process of political correctness. Why couldn’t he use the term terrorist when describing a person’s appearance? Smokey also emphatically stated that the, “homeless” man who he thought to be a terrorist looked to be carrying something large under his garments. The fact that I ignored this added to his warrant.
“How many homeless Muslims, or people who appear Muslim, have you seen John?” I never really answered that question simply fearing what that might say about myself─ and still do. I remember saying, “None…” and then becoming quiet. He backed off, and promptly asked, “Why don’t you want to answer that?” Before I could haul an ample load of BS into the conversation Smokey asked, “When I use the term Nazi, what do you see?” I didn’t answer that question as well. Had I become, “complacent?” I many ways I’m certain I had. I’m aware of my surroundings when it comes to my family. I am guilty of being hyper vigilant, as Smokey tells me. Yeah issues, I got ‘em. But maybe that’s not completely a bad thing, and perhaps listening to my friend and his rationale was more important than just a jaunt in the social- political phycology of our nation and how it can harm us. Think of this: Just recently three Americans were decorated in France for thwarting what might have been a brutal massacre on a speed train in Europe. Part of the defense of the gunman was/is that he was/is, “HOMELESS.” In fact it was stated that the 25 year old Moroccan had found the, “stash” of weapons and was robbing passengers. He obviously was not, and his defense was ridiculous. But that is not the point. It is neither that James, “Smokey” West has the ability to look into the future, or keep your eye on individuals of Middle Eastern decent. The point is to listen to ourselves─ really listen to our gut feelings and senses.
Maybe there is certain amount of guilt we shoulder for whatever reason. Perhaps we as Americans feel we need to pay for our mistakes; we owe it to the sins of our past to hold ourselves accountable revisiting our Constitution. Maybe we feel by giving everyone the benefit of the doubt they will see the good nature of America. We have, in fact, done many things to atone for. But have we set an unhealthy expectations for ourselves? How many of us voice political correctness, but fail to support it in our thoughts, because it frankly fails to support us. Does is really serve our society? Perhaps we, as citizens, are holding up an idea that is simply reminding us to be fair to one another, and if so, can’t we simply do that? Politically Correct is a Politically Correct term itself, because we don’t want to use words like stereotype or bias. We don’t want to say those because that would offend. We’re complacent. It is a slow suicide.
A few months ago I wrote an article dealing with the possible overuse of, “political correctness” in our society and how it can contribute to a complacent society. I used remembered dialogue from a conversation I had with James, “Smokey” West where he detailed an eyewitness account of a man, from probable Middle Eastern origin, riding the subway from New York to New Jersey. I learned quite a bit from that conversation and wrote about it hoping to share much of the same feeling with the reading audience. There were some interesting turns in our dialogue and as always it was mind opening. He used a term that has stuck with me since: Conditioning the Battle field. Smokey’s claim was that, “political correctness” was simply a catalyst in the process of, “Conditioning the Battle Field” eventually leading to a complacent society. The battle field being where terrorists choose to strike, and that pretty much means anywhere.  What was the battle which warranted Smokey to make such a claim in the first place? The subway. The very same battle field used in one of the most recent terror attempts: The speed train traveling from Amsterdam Holland to Paris France. I questioned Smokey at length about what he saw and his interpretation of the events that unfolded. To reload, he stated that the man of alleged Middle Eastern decent appeared to be homeless, which led to me questioning what that might have to do with anything in the least.
Side Note: Do Not Do That unless you have a bit of a rapport.
In the conversation that led to the article he asked a few questions which might have been misinterpreted had the objective not been clear. The objective in this case was simply being able to give an accurate description of another human being; however, the overuse of political correctness stopped that process cold. My answers were part of his warrant for his claim. He found it somewhat humorous, but I found it alarming. Stuff sneaks into one’s head and it’s frightening when inventoried. Here are some of the questions, answers, and explanation or lack thereof. This is a dialogue of two people only, and I certainly do not stack myself in an area of authority about any of this other than being a red blooded American who loves his country. Some of these questions, or statements did not show up in the first article because they occurred later in follow up conversations with Smokey.  “He looked like a terrorist; he looked homeless John…” A homeless terrorist, I thought, which led to an interesting discussion about line and posture. In short, body language is key and attire is a close second. Perception is everything. When Smokey used the quoted terms I asked, “What does that look like,” which solidified his point about political correctness. I was avoiding. He went on to give a thorough description, and I instinctively became counter intuitive actively engaging in the process of political correctness. Why couldn’t he use the term terrorist when describing a person’s appearance? Smokey also emphatically stated that the, “homeless” man who he thought to be a terrorist looked to be carrying something large under his garments. The fact that I ignored this added to his warrant.
“How many homeless Muslims, or people who appear Muslim, have you seen John?” I never really answered that question simply fearing what that might say about myself─ and still do. I remember saying, “None…” and then becoming quiet. He backed off, and promptly asked, “Why don’t you want to answer that?” Before I could haul an ample load of BS into the conversation Smokey asked, “When I use the term Nazi, what do you see?” I didn’t answer that question as well. Had I become, “complacent?” I many ways I’m certain I had. I’m aware of my surroundings when it comes to my family. I am guilty of being hyper vigilant, as Smokey tells me. Yeah issues, I got ‘em. But maybe that’s not completely a bad thing, and perhaps listening to my friend and his rationale was more important than just a jaunt in the social- political phycology of our nation and how it can harm us.

Think of this: Just recently three Americans were decorated in France for thwarting what might have been a brutal massacre on a speed train in Europe. Part of the defense of the gunman was/is that he was/is, “HOMELESS.” In fact it was stated that the 25 year old Moroccan had found the, “stash” of weapons and was robbing passengers. He obviously was not, and his defense was ridiculous. But that is not the point. It is neither that James, “Smokey” West has the ability to look into the future, or keep your eye on individuals of Middle Eastern decent. The point is to listen to ourselves─ really listen to our gut feelings and senses.   Maybe there is certain amount of guilt we shoulder for whatever reason. Perhaps we as Americans feel we need to pay for our mistakes; we owe it to the sins of our past to hold ourselves accountable revisiting our Constitution. Maybe we feel by giving everyone the benefit of the doubt they will see the good nature of America. We have, in fact, done many things to atone for. But have we set an unhealthy expectations for ourselves? How many of us voice political correctness, but fail to support it in our thoughts, because it frankly fails to support us. Does is really serve our society? Perhaps we, as citizens, are holding up an idea that is simply reminding us to be fair to one another, and if so, can’t we simply do that? Politically Correct is a Politically Correct term itself, because we don’t want to use words like stereotype or bias. We don’t want to say those because that would offend. We’re complacent. It is a slow suicide.
“Complacency is the ultimate killer.” James, “Smokey” West.
John Vinuela M. Ed

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