What it was Like Thinking a Ballistic Missile was Speeding Toward Us in Hawaii

Yesterday morning, while I was drinking coffee and reading and my wife was getting ready for work, we heard an emergency alert sound from our phones.  I figured it would be a storm warning, but the weather was clear.  My wife looked at her phone and said a missile was coming.  She immediately sprang into action, grabbed a gallon of water from the fridge and brought it and our dogs into the bathroom, while I looked at the message on her phone and tried to process what it said.  It was an emergency alert from the state:


Oh, no.

Right now, there’s a ballistic missile actually flying through the air at 15,000 miles per hour toward Hawaii – probably Honolulu, where we are located.  This is happening.

As a graduate student in American Studies, I both follow politics closely and have studied what happens in a nuclear explosion.  I knew that during the week, North and South Korea had been engaged in peace talks regarding the Olympics, and in response, the Trump regime had threatened illegal military strikes on North Korea and had flown nuclear-capable bomber planes over the area.  So I figured either Trump, following in Nixon’s self-proclaimed “madman” tradition, had decided to carry out a surprise attack and NK had responded, or NK had simply been scared into a suicidal first strike.  Either way, I thought, this would probably mean the start of a huge war.

A ballistic missile attack had always seemed like a fairly remote possibility, but something that could certainly happen any time – and was probably a lot more likely than we’d prefer to imagine.  And now, we were told by the government in very certain terms, it had happened.  The missile was on the way.  It would hit at any moment.

So, we hunkered down in the bathroom and braced for an extremely painful death or near death.  As we waited, we looked online for more news.  All that came up in a search was people tweeting about the alert, expressing shock or saying things like “Missile headed to Hawaii. I’m going to die now.”

So we sent a group text to our families saying good bye.  This might very well be it for us, as it has been in similar fashion for so many, before.

After about two minutes of waiting and imagining the heat wave, third degree burns, frying organs, storm of flying glass and metal, 600 mile per hour winds, and collapsing building that was about to happen, we decided to make a break for shelter and higher ground further away from Honolulu.

We took the dogs and hurried outside.  Some people were out there crying, with desperate expressions that said this is the end, this is going to be very bad.  We asked if they wanted to come with us, but they declined.  We got in our car and drove uphill away from Honolulu, and went into a Safeway parking lot.  Some people were running from the building with cases of water.  We hurried inside Safeway with our dogs.  People were sitting on the floor, heads in hands, waiting for the impact.  It had been ten minutes.  This was about to happen.

Once we felt like we were in the best place in the building, we frantically checked our phones again as we continued to envision the apocalypse that was going to occur any second.  I then saw that Hawaiian representative Tulsi Gabbard had just announced on Twitter that she had been calling authorities, and had confirmed it was a false alarm.

At this point, we had spent twelve minutes thinking that a nuclear ballistic missile was actually speeding towards Hawaii, and that everything was about to become extremely terrible.

Going from thinking your world is about to change like that to hearing “oops, false alarm”, is quite a reversal.

We started telling people that we had heard from Gabbard that it was a false alarm.  We went outside and told others.  The news seemed to be spreading around that there was no missile.  People were still wary, but calming down.  We got in touch with our families.

As we tried to decompress and discuss what had happened, we agreed it wasn’t so much a matter of being angry at whoever had accidentally sent the alert (though obviously that was a bad mistake), but more the existence of circumstances in which getting nuked is actually a thing that can realistically happen any time.

We thought about the millions of people who have actually been wiped out or seriously maimed by these kinds of weapons, paid for by our tax dollars and deployed by racists and armchair warriors in lieu of negotiations, in wars of aggression, and extra-judicial execution-by-explosive of “suspects” by the regime that controls the territory where we live.  We thought of the people living under this and far greater levels of stress and threat constantly, being killed and horribly maimed constantly by explosives we are being made to pay for or by proxy regimes supported by this government – the world’s biggest arms trafficker and in 2013 named in a global poll as by far the greatest threat to world peace.  (US provides aid to about 75% of the world’s dictators, as defined by the US.)  We saw that corporate propaganda outlets like CBS were already using the false alarm in Hawaii to continue their highly successful efforts to prepare the US public for aggression against the “rogue nation” of North Korea, which suffered a massive genocide at the hands of US bombers and has been surrounded and under siege ever since.

A friend outside Hawaii, who consumes virtually only Western corporate propaganda news media, actually said to me that if we had been nuked, yesterday, “at least North Korea wouldn’t be a problem, any more”, since the US would wipe it off the map.  Millions of people, including us, would be dying horribly, but a people-group that has been a victim of American genocide and lives under constant, intense pressure and military threat from that same, genocidal state, would be completely wiped away for eternity.  Lovely.

This disturbing experience thus highlighted, for us, the importance of resisting nationalistic, group insularity by seeking, in addition to mainstream Western sources, regular exposure to non-Western, international, global, and non-corporate, non-oligarchic information sources and opinions.  Sources like Democracy Now, The Real News, Antiwar.com, Telesur, PressTV, RT, Al Jazeera, WSWS, Consortium News, and many others.  All of these sources, including US-aggression-supporting and oligarchic outlets like the Bezos Post, NYT, NPR, and Fox, provide information, but also important contrast with, and insight into, each other.

In Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, Robert Browning notes that one of the reasons Nazis who refused to support their murderous government gave for their dissent (for which none were seriously punished) was that they had had experienced international exposure.  They had broken their German insularity.

Those who had been exposed predominantly to information from German sources largely followed directives from the German regime and supported or carried out aggression and killing.  The two most crucial values that had been cultivated in their minds were that Germany was superior, and that its actions, though they might at times be firm, were carried out for good reasons.

Breaking group insularity allowed some to discover that these assertions were absurd, wrong and, regardless, irrelevant.

Robert J. Barsocchini is a graduate student in American Studies. Years working as a cross-cultural intermediary for corporations in the film and Television industry sparked his interest in the often astounding discrepancy between Western self-image and reality. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. 

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12 Responses to What it was Like Thinking a Ballistic Missile was Speeding Toward Us in Hawaii

  1. Tom Jackson says:

    Great and terrifying insights, am sure all the newspapers will print this in their opinion page.

  2. jadan says:

    We are comfortably numb, those of us who have a semblance of balance financially, and even those of us teetering on the brink and not so comfortable. We are certainly numb to reality just the same, like this idiot president himself with the attention span of a Chihuahua who is provoking this old fear from the duck and cover 50-60-70’s. But let’s not blame the Fool for this one. It’s actually one of his useful contributions to our life in the super power. He has managed to evoke the terror of the situation, at least for Hawaiians. The reality we live in is actually terrifying when the Novocaine wears off. But nothing will change. There will be no arms reduction. Nuclear weapons have become “tactical” and the military lunatics are going to treat themselves to the great thrill of limited nuclear war any time now. Just relax. Get high. Buy some cryptocurrency on your credit card. That should provide you with the excitement your consumerism doesn’t.

    • freedom74 says:

      Anyone who thinks that a person that has had three successful careers that most people will never have any success at and made millions if not billions is stupid and foolish, probably isn’t an authority on intelligence. What careers have you mastered and made millions off of, how many countries have you run? You sound exactly like the frantically and galactically stupid liberals of the 1960s. None of their predictions came true stupid. Natures End was wrong, the Duck and Cover commercials were wrong. There is no profit in it for an international business man with kids to start a war, you would have to be the most ignorant person on the planet to not be able to grasp that very simple truth. It’s been my experience that most of you lefties are bad people. Criminals, drug addicts and the poverty stricken are the most ardent Democrat supporters. You all being bad people makes you think everyone is bad people and you spend a lot of time projecting. Fix yourself.

      • jadan says:

        Thank sweet Jesus there aren’t but a tiny minority of you around. Sounds like you just graduated from Trump University. This spoiled impetuous ass hole at the helm started life with 200 million his racist landlord daddy gave him and then he promptly pissed it away and went bankrupt 4 times so that he had to launder money for Russian criminals to get back on his feet. Are you supplementing your income trolling for the Donald around the web? I’ve heard the Koch brothers donors network will stop at nothing to keep this human turd from being impeached and flushed out of the national system.

        • Put that crack pipe down. Hillary lost. Again. lol

          • JohnZ says:

            It’s all true. Anything to say about Trump’s five deferments during the Viet Nam war?
            The joke’s on you. And don’t cough up the Hilary crap either. I didn’t vote for her as well. In fact, I stayed home on election day which gives me the right to complain about the mess you caused that I had nothing to do with.

          • Dude, you’re just a whiny bitch with a keyboard.

        • JohnZ says:

          Absolutely true.
          The Russian mafia bailed Trump out several times. Actually they are kazarian zionists but don’t tell anyone.
          What foes on at trump Towers is something you do not want to know.
          Trump also sought and got five deferments during the Viet Nam war,( bad feet) along with Darth Chaney and Darn Old Rumsfeld.

      • Sparticus says:

        Most people do not have daddy Millionaires. Trump had lots of Help. Stop making Idols. None of you are special, and the Creator must be off His Rocker,( I can say it and I am doing just fine) to tolerate this Earth. I am Human too, So, when I say it, it carries on a massive megaphone into the Heavens because it is unbecoming of a human to be so truthful.

        None of you can be fixed, ( myself included) that is why GOD gave your idiotic leaders “nuclear weapons,” ( Relevant to the Article above) because it is known to those who have WISDOM that mankind will indeed fix itself. Don`t believe in God … Good, because that will only put you a few kingdoms lower in Evolution. Ignoring things does not work.

  3. Sparticus says:

    Anyone dumb enough to trust Trump or any other Garbage in Washington deserves what they get, Remember, Americans, the Joke is on You: ” A Government by and for the People,” and the people will be held to account for every PENNY.

  4. L Garou says:

    Here comes Krishna!

  5. Todd Millions says:

    big word that ,perhaps the biggest.
    If a trembler shook Japan and another reactor with the same security contract arrangements, or one shut down(irony) in 2011- suddenly blew and lobbed waste enough to kill all multicellar life a couple of hundred miles- out and around,
    Would the civil defence menu have an icon for that warning?
    or would they have too use the missile attack icon/alert
    as the closest match available?
    Are there no sand sack slit trench arrangements for storm shelters?
    Not quite to standard of course but culvet covered with air filter provisions would not go amiss in volcanic emergencies as well-to a point.
    Which may help people orientate in similar alerts.
    The point of such -accidents being learned helplessness usually.

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