Terrorism Commercial

by Tracee Sioux

Flash from scared innocent kids asking these questions:

Mom, Dad, how long should I wait for you?

What if something happens, will you come get me?

What if I’m at soccer practice, will you come get me?

Mom, If you’re not home, should we go to the neighbor’s house?

Calm female Narrator: There is no reason not to have a plan in case of a terrorist attack, and some extremely good reasons why you should. Talk to your family about what you would do in case of an emergency. Go to www.ready.gov .

I just saw this commercial on TLC sponsored by Homeland Security.

For some reason I feel manipulated by it. For one, as a parent it makes me feel completely powerless. My first question is exactly what would that plan look like?

When I saw the second plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center it was clear to me that terrorists are evil geniuses. They waited until all cameras were on them to make their real statement. The other thing that was clear to me is that we can’t imagine what they are capable of. So, what strategy can I possibly come up with, as a parent, if their evilness knows no moral bounds? We couldn’t conceive of the terribleness of 9/11, so there simply couldn’t be a back-up plan. All back-up plans were useless on that day, during that week. Should I have multiple plans that include biomedical terrorism or germ warfare or plain old bombs? Should I assume that I’ll have access to transportation or should I assume that I won’t?

When I think about that commercial a little more I feel exploited. Why now? It’s been 6 whole years and I’ve never seen a commercial like that before. Now it’s election time, and I’m getting public service announcements from Homeland Security all the sudden?

The nature of the commercial felt manipulative to me as well. It seemed to be directed to make children afraid. To coerce them into asking me questions I can’t possibly answer. It seemed dead set on destroying my sense of denial that allows me to put one foot in front of the other every day. It seemed poised to force my children to realize that I can’t possibly protect them from so much in this world.

Are commercials like this helpful? Necessary? Is this a clue that we’re at a higher risk than the last 6 years? Is it appropriate to scare children to force action on the part of parents? Sort of like the “make your parents quit smoking” public service announcements? Is manipulation of children for the greater good? Did it take 6 years to decide we need commercials on being prepared?

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