“T for Terrorist, basically.”

13 02 2009

Think Coffee has become one of those hotspots for students and scholars around the New York University campus area, who come not only for the organic coffee but also for the long, somewhat peaceful hours of reading, computer-screen staring and sometimes chit-chatting. I have become a regular customer since its opening more than two years ago.


On a Tuesday morning, right after my 9.15am class, I climbed those three steel steps into the entrance of the coffee shop on Mercer Street, hoping for a few hours for homework. Right in front of the door, I caught a snippet of a phone conversation between a young guy and his phone-buddy at the end of the line. He was spelling something. In his grey jacket and his black cap, as he casually talked and looked at his feet, the 20-something-looking gentleman shrugged and spelled, “T for terrorist, basically.”


Now I know that English is not my first language. I don’t always remember the “A for apple, B for bike, C for cat.” But when has the letter “T” become immediately associated with “terrorist”? Not tie, television, or even Tsunami?


People think differently, of course. No one can or should dictate what pops into people’s minds when they think of a letter, an image or a person. It says something about our generation, however, when the first word that you think of for the letter T is “terrorist.” Is “O” for “Osama” now too? Or should it be “Obama”?


This isn’t necessarily a problem. It is mind-boggling, however, to realize and observe that our thoughts, and our generation, have witnessed such a shock as to alter positive thinking into negative thinking. Terrorism is a negative thought. It is exists, it affects our lives, but it shouldn’t be at the forefront of our thinking. It can become subconscious. I am sure that the person who said this quote hasn’t really thought about it this way, and I’m sure that many of us don’t think of it as a big deal.


But it is important to be aware of how we think.



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