Think about this. We could have potentially been a year, a month, maybe even days away from national media descending on and camping out in a small city about 45 minutes from Marshall to cover a terrorist attack.
Chilling. A terror attack in Montevideo, that is, not Anderson Cooper visiting.
The FBI said Monday that a raid on a Montevideo mobile home and the arrest of a former resident of the home disrupted a "localized terror attack."
Law enforcement recovered a Romanian AKM assault rifle and also apparently found Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs at the former home of Buford Rogers, who made his initial court appearance Monday.
Maybe 20 years ago, a story like this would've done nothing more than raise our eyebrows, because not all of us would've related it to terrorism. Maybe we'd say, "Wow, you never think people like that live in small towns around here."
Today, things are different. Law enforcement now tags incidents like this with the words "terror attack," and when we hear those words we get, well, terrified.
This is the world we live in. Be honest, how surprised were you when you learned about the raid, the weapons found, the arrest? What was your reaction, physically? Raised eyebrows for sure. Maybe a couple shakes of your head.
But what was your emotional reaction when you saw the words "terror attack" associated with a Monte man. You should've been scared as hell. We all should be.
No, we didn't let what went down in Montevideo last week change our lives, but if it didn't make you think, really think, you're not human.
You don't think "acts of terror" when you think of Montevideo, or any small town around here for that matter. But welcome to the new world, my friends. That the FBI used the words "terror attack" shouldn't surprise us, and frankly, I'm glad it chose those words, because they take on special meaning these days. We live in a world where terror attacks can happen just about anywhere - even in a state that brags about how nice its residents are. We also live in a world where the word "terror" takes on a different meaning than it once did, at least when it precedes the word "attack." And don't for a second scoff at law enforcement's use, or perceived overuse, of these words. They can't afford to underestimate any incident, any suspect. There's really no such thing as an overreaction anymore.
We are nice people, I suppose. We are polite. We watch out for each other. We reach out to our community and donate our money and time to good causes. But mixed in with all the good people out there are troubled souls, ticked off people. It doesn't matter what their zip code is; you don't have to live in New York or Boston to have one of them as your neighbor.
Fortunately, we don't see too many FBI agents around these parts. We remain, I would argue, pretty insulated from major terrorist-related activity, but as we've learned this week, we're not immune to it by any means. To think any other way would be, 1. dangerous, and 2. naive.
Is Buford Rogers a terrorist, or just a misunderstood, misguided, camo-wearing American whose government has left a bad taste in his mouth? The FBI says the former. His family disagrees. Maybe he is, maybe he's not, but as we have learned in recent years, you don't have to be from another country and have different religious beliefs to be a terrorist. You don't need to be a scientist to build a bomb, either.
However it breaks down, the Law & Order episode we saw play out less than 50 miles from Marshall this past week is yet another sign of how seriously even perceived threats are taken.
We know why Rogers flew the American flag upside down, but hating the government is not a crime; if it was we would have to build more jails. A lot more. It's what a person does with that hatred that is ultimately criminal. And if you think the authorities overreacted, then you obviously call that little space under a large rock home. Too many acts of terror have taken place in recent years that it's hard to imagine any law enforcement agency not taking extreme, proactive measures. We would like to believe Rogers doesn't have it in him to commit a terrorist attack, and that this whole thing has been blown totally out of proportion.
Personally though, given the times we live in, I'll take an arrest before something BAD happens rather than AFTER any day.