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Cover Story

Life After Death

Can An Explosion Echo Forever?

October 21, 2001|Geraldine Baum and Edward J. Boyer and Maggie Farley and Ralph Frammolino and Megan Garvey and Josh Getlin and John M. Glionna and John J. Goldman and P.J. Huffstutter and Patrick J. Kiger and Maria L. La Ganga and Paul Lieberman and Joseph Menn and Charles Ornstein and Vince Rause and Janet Reitman and Janine Robinson and Nancy Shepherdson and Martin J. Smith

Protesters responded by storming the Daily Californian offices, occupying them through the night. They saw the cartoon as an incitement to violence against people of Arab extraction. The next day, armed with microphones and placards, they gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall. The demonstrators wanted Bell silenced and demanded an apology from the newspaper staff. Neither happened.

"I was deeply offended by the stereotypical portrayal of Muslims and Arabs in the cartoon," Zaakir Yoonas wrote to the newspaper's editor. "The cartoon displays Muslims as 'hook-nosed Arabs,' analogous to the portrayal of African Americans as 'big-lipped criminals' and Asians as 'slant-eyed despots.' "

Everyone in the cartoon world of Darrin Bell has a hooked nose. "It's my style," Bell says. "The way I drew the terrorists is the way I draw CEOs." It's also not what he sees as the issue. What is the issue? Free speech and civil liberties, he says.

"We can't tell cartoonists not to draw any minorities," Bell wrote in response to the critics. "We cannot force a newspaper to apologize for letting someone share his opinion, even if that opinion may incite some hopelessly ignorant bigots to anger. We cannot put a price on freedom, or the terrorists win."

Even so, Bell is reevaluating the role editorial cartoons play in his drawing career. Most of his energy these days is spent pushing Rudy Park, a strip about a dot.commer who lost his job at a start-up and now manages a cyber cafe. By early October, the strip had been purchased by about 45 publications. Bell worries that the controversy over his political work could taint what he hopes is a bright future.

"I've dealt with editors since '95," Bell says. He has learned that editorial cartoons can be controversial, but comic strips cannot. "One thing I know is that, when you're not talking about the Opinion page, if you get three negative letters, that's it. You're history."

--Maria L. La Ganga


Mitchellville, Md.

The Unexpected Crash of General Aviation

Stanley Rodenhauser's small private airport and flight school northeast of Washington, D.C., is a family-run operation that's been in business for 55 years.

"General [small planes] aviation, you know, it's an important industry, a real tradition in America--in a sense, we go back to the Wright brothers," says Rodenhauser, owner of Freeway Aviation Flight Training Center. "We train a lot of young adults, give them their first experience with flying. We've never made a huge amount of money, but we've always done OK, been self-sustaining. We never asked for any handouts from anybody."

But that was before a man named Hani Hanjour helped turn Rodenhauser's world upside down. In the second week of August, Hanjour showed up at Freeway, presented a federal pilot's license and inquired about renting one of the school's single-engine Cessna 172s. But when Freeway's instructors took Hanjour on test flights, a standard precaution, they found that he had trouble controlling and landing the aircraft. They declined to rent him a plane. A month later, Hanjour's picture would flash on TV screens as the hijacker who apparently steered a Boeing 757 into the Pentagon.

"We did what we were supposed to do," says Rodenhauser. "We were careful. In our case, the system worked."

That hasn't done Rodenhauser much good. In the wake of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all small aircraft and closed small local airports. Since then, the agency has allowed most to reopen. But Freeway, because it is within 25 nautical miles of the nation's capital, remained barred from doing business, with no change in sight. "Basically they've confiscated my business. I haven't had any income in weeks. At 8 a.m. on September 11, I had a fleet of 18 planes worth $1 million. At 10 a.m., they were worthless."

Rodenhauser had put up his business and personal assets as collateral when he borrowed money to expand. Now, at age 60, he stands to lose everything.

Rodenhauser watches with frustration as the government rushes to bail out the big airlines, whose security procedures made them vulnerable to disaster. Meanwhile, his business is withering away. "Those policy makers, they need to come out here--they're not seeing the real world," he says. "It's like we're in a war zone here."

--Patrick J. Kiger


New York City

Instant American

Pizzeria owner Agostino Scozzari finally feels at home. In the days after the attack, Scozzari waited in a 90-minute line to buy three American flags, eight flag T-shirts for his employees and several lapel ribbons and flag stickers. That never would have happened in Germany, where Scozzari lived for 38 years before moving to the U.S. in 1999. He never bought German flags, rooted for the German soccer team or took pride in the country's national anthem.

"I never had the feeling that I was a part of Germany," recalls Scozzari, 45. "Now, I feel a part of America."

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