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Tomarken.com > Daniel P. Beckmann > Journalists Journal-Oct 12th, 10-12-02 (02-08-03)
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Journalists Journal-Oct 12th, 10-12-02

Daniel P. Beckmann
10.13.02-Frenchs Forest, NSW AUSTRALIA

An event like the Saturday night Bali Bombings causes a chain reactions in many different areas. It sparks reaction from government, relief workers, family and friends, and also the little gerbils running around in circles that are behind what you see on the 24-hour news stations. These are big events for the gerbils and stories like these, early on, can create a bit of a rush, that some use as their attraction to the news business.

I wrote this after I got home from wurking as a line producer at Sky News Australia. I had been there that day for 12 hours, it was now 11:30 PM and I was to return there the following morning by 6 AM. Earlier I had spent most of my day trying to line up phone interviews with people who were at or close to the scene. Not speaking Indonesian, I acquired the assistance of an Indonesian restaurant to help translate and find English speaking people to be thrown onto our air. I had only been in Australia 10 days, this was the beginning on my first full week at SKY…
Last night there was an explosion at Kuta Beach on the island of Bali. Bali is in the country of Indonesia…Before today, I didn’t know that.

Apparently that particular beach is one in which many young Australians go to vacation, or holiday as they call it, similar to that of Cancun for Americans.

There were three almost simultaneous explosions at a night club that was packed on Saturday night. There were several Australian club football teams there celebrating their victories and loses…Australian-rules football may be considered most like rugby. It was the last weekend after the traditional two week break that Australians have at this time of year. It was busy on purpose.

Relations between Indonesia and Australia have not been very good. Most recently they have been strained over the separation of East Timor from that country. A move Australia has supported and the United States did not support.

In this land of no worries ad-nausea, many people in many walks of life have said their biggest concern is that Australia, a very large country, with many sparsely populated areas, may one day be invaded by Indonesia with their significantly larger population.

So with all of this, when the news came down of attacks, surprising enough to this American working in the media over here, regular programming on the three main free-to-air television networks was not interrupted. There was no ‘wall-to-wall’ coverage except for us and we were pay tv and not many pay for tv here.

When the news of the death counts coming in slated close to two hundred with hundreds more injured, 75% of which were said to have been Australian, there was no sudden urge to go blow away anyone who might have done it.

There was no talk of resolve, no talk of huntin’, no talk of ‘dead or alive’. There were carefully crafted statements from the Prime Minister, John Howard(who ironically looks like a funeral director), calling for, in a calm tone, a serious, but well-thought out response to what had happened.

The opposition leader, Simon Crean(who ironically looks like the grench who stole Australia) in a similar tone called for a worldwide summit to meet on terrorism-he also stressed for Australian not to turn against one another on the basis of race, that we were all Australians and not to go down that road.

Also this week, there was a bomb blast in Helsinki, Finland, of all places, the day before and a terrorist attack on a French oil tanker one week before. This wasn’t the only event of terror this week, yet, nothing rash was happening even though this was now the third.

While there was speculation that Al Qaeda was behind this, considering the Bush Doctrine where you now have a reason to retaliate against your perceived enemy if it is in response to terrorism, there was no immediate call for the Australian army to take up arms against Indonesia or anyone else for that matter. No demands to nuke ‘em either.

In America on Sept. 11th, I traveled across the country on my way back from the West Coast. I can recall an impending tension in the air about who we were going to ‘strike’ when. I spoke with students who were seeking a ‘college education’ who were ready to nuke who ever caused ‘their Pearl Harbor’, but they didn’t know who.

I have been traveling outside of the U. S. for exactly one month on to this day. While I did not witness violence on a regular basis-I never did see anyone get shot in front of me or anything in the U.S., it appears as though there is a pent up anger inside of a vast majority of Americans, that they just don’t have here.

Our reaction to Sept. 11th in comparison to this 12th of October bears that out. Some will even argue that Sept. 11th was a bigger and more shocking event and in raw numbers it might have been.

But in a place that is awake when most of the world is asleep, in a place where 200 dead proportionately to the 25 million people that live in Australia is almost exactly the same proportion to the approx. 2,000 Americans out of 250 million that died on Sept. 11th, yet, no one is reacting with a call for immediate violence as if that would heal the situation.

This is a watershed moment for Australia. Just yesterday, a few hours before the blast, I made fun of the fact that they had issued a terror warning about power plants around Australia. I thought they probably just wanted to have something to be concerned about, something for us to put in our news cast…but now there is a real definite reason to believe that Australia is no longer safe from terror, just like the U. S. learned 1 year, 1 month and 1 day ago.

Even though this didn’t occur on Australian soil, Aussie were targeted, but are trying to think of a possible way of dealing with what happened with a concern not to escalate matters further. At least that’s their ‘knee-jerk reaction’, of course things may change as time goes on, who knows?

I have to go to sleep to be back there in 6 hours
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