You couldn't tell whether it was penned with sarcasm or resignation, but that's how one agency exec VP responded to the question of "Is there anything Americans can do to be less vulnerable" after last week's carnage in Oklahoma.
Respondents to an Advertising Age Fax Poll poured out the full measure of emotions, from defiance to helplessness. Gender and job were no boundary to their feelings.
When asked how the U.S. will respond to the bombing, one respondent warned, "We must not forget the lessons learned during WWII. An aggressor only knows aggression. We must forget our petty squabbles and attend to the critical issues of mutual security: PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!"
A male, entry-level agency staffer put it more simply, quoting a gangster character from "Pulp Fiction": "Get medieval on their asses!"
Respondents seemed to express a feeling of being violated on a national level-as determined as ever to protect their liberties but warier than ever of foreigners, even though there was no solid proof that the bombers were from another country.
One respondent needed only four words: "No tolerance. No foreigners."
"If it is a foreign perpetrator, the U.S. should block all members of that country access to the U.S. This is similar to grade school when a whole class got punished when one child acted up. Peer pressure was a deterrent," said a male upper-management executive at a media company.
"I would want strict entry requirements to all non-American peoples, photo IDs mandatory, no criminals allowed (especially political), no mental cases!" said a female midlevel executive at a media company.
"Americans will demand a military response if ANY foreign entity is proven to be responsible," another respondent said. "On the whole, our daily lives will (and should) change little as a result-but our trust of foreigners and radical factions will be tested."
"I'm not willing to" restrict freedoms, said yet another. "I'd rather have open, free access maintained. The threat is too minuscule.... All our vulnerability is minute. We have a greater chance of being killed by a family member."
There was a sense of helplessness over how Americans could protect themselves in the future. More use of such deterrents as metal detectors, security guards and searches was suggested. But "other than trying to use common sense, there is not a lot individuals can do if their building is blown up," said an upper-management executive at a marketer.
"No, there is no point" to changing your daily routine, said the female agency exec VP. "Terrorism is secretive and selective."
"I'll start packin' a weapon," one respondent asserted. "It is the responsibility of all Americans to ensure our mutual safety-it's only too obvious `the authorities' cannot protect us."
But at least one respondent found comfort in looking homeward. "Show extreme caution," he warned. "Avoid travel-it's better here anyway."