Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, November 03, 2021

So tomorrow is the quarter-century anniversary of the Iranian hostage crisis. It was an event that served as a many-layered historic passageway: From the rollicking 1970s to the more conservative ’80s; the final flowering of American liberalism and subsequent rejuvenation of its conservativism; the end of relative Middle Eastern stability and the dawn of radical Islamism.

The timing is just right: I just received a book dealing with this time period.

I was but a wee lad of 8 when the Iranian crisis went down, but I have distinct memories of it, particularly the final stages. Why? It just so happens that when the hostages’ release was secured, their homecoming was set for Stewart Airfield, now known as Stewart International Airport. I grew up a few miles away from Stewart.

When word got out that the hostages were coming to town, we knew we were in for a big media circus. The day of the arrival, a couple of friends and I attempted to ride our bikes into Stewart and be a part of the action. Our biggest aspiration for the day was to just get on TV. I think we only made it to one of the airfield’s outer fences, from where we could see absolutely nothing. Fame would have to wait for another day…

It’s hard to imagine the frenzy the hostage situation created back then. It was still the Cold War era, and the notion that you or your loved ones could be nabbed by fundamentalist fanatics halfway around the world was just another layer of anxiety in an already worrisome world. Even as a kid, I felt it was overblown — if you were daft enough to travel to the Mideast, you were already taking your chances. As further hostage crises raged throughout the ’80s, I looked forward to the end of the phenomenon. By the ’90s, it had indeed run its course as an effective political ploy in the terror game.

Nowadays, hostage-taking in the Middle East doesn’t garner anywhere near the same reaction. Have we just hardened ourselves? Or have the stakes risen to the point where hostages aren’t as valuable as bargaining chips?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 10:27:09 PM
Category: Political, Society
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