On this, the fifteenth anniversary of the first post of this blog, following a blast in Manhattan's Chelsea section that injured 29 (with a second homemade explosive device found four blocks away from the 23rd Street explosion), which, in turn, came on the heels of an explosion that, thankfully, didn't injure anyone, along the course of a Jersey Shore 5-K race called the "Semper Five" (a fundraiser for Marine Corps related charity)... I ventured into Central Park for the NYC Marathon Tune-Up, an 18-mile footrace, this morning. [BTW, "ISIS" hasn't claimed responsibility for either of those events, though an ISIS "wing" supposedly claims responsibility for stabbing attacks that injured at least nine in a mall in St. Cloud, MN... the stabber was himself killed.]
Yes, the events in Seaside Park, NJ and in Chelsea certainly were reminiscent of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, combining the twin themes of attacking a footrace with a homemade pressure cooker explosive device. And so, one might wonder, why I would knowingly and deliberately set foot in another footrace (at about 5,000 runners, roughly the same size field as in Seaside Park), and in New York's Central Park no less, barely two miles from last night's explosions at the closest point.
I am reminded of events fifteen years ago... thousands of people didn't come to New York (or, more troubling in my view, lived here but still didn't want to run) for that year's NYC Marathon. Nonetheless, I ran it, and it was one of the most life-affirming experiences I ever had. Not out of any particular principles (though the stubbornness that keeps me at distance running despite no talent or willingness to train any harder than the level required to be "near back of pack" is obviously a factor), so much as annoyance at being told that I am supposed to live my life cowering in fear, and that "terrrrrrrrorism" is the defining condition of our existence. Maybe it is, and maybe I'm delusional, but I'll be damned if I buy that. It's fifteen years later; for almost all of them, I have, as a quotidian matter, gone to work about a football field's length away from the World Trade Center, NY Stock Exchange and NY Federal Reserve Bank... I'm well aware another terrorist attack is not only possible, but perhaps even more likely than not, as the World Trade Center has already been attacked twice in my adult working life, once with me working a block from it (the other time I worked in midtown Manhattan, about five miles away).
This sentiment of media-taught-learned-helplessness certainly makes centralized authority very, very happy, indeed. Once people are so afraid of and for their lives that they seriously question whether to even leave their homes, the powerful pretty much can then do whatever they want... put an entire economy on (an extremely profitable for some and extremely detrimental to the overall economy and most people) "war footing," throw out the rule books for things like torture, dungeons, Mafia style hits (okay as long as "a drone" is the means), Orwellian surveillance on every aspect of our lives (no matter how "private"), and so many of the salutary effects on our lives that we have enjoyed since 9-11.
Yes, I fully expect the bombings to be thoroughly investigated, and I trust that our law enforcement personnel will, hopefully sooner rather than later, get to the bottom of these incidents and bring the perpetrator(s) to justice (which, hopefully, will be elucidating as to just what happened, and not involve a special operations team). Despite the toxic water under the bridge, I am still counting on "normalcy"-- that ordinary working stiffs doing their ordinary jobs will get to the bottom of this, and the rest of us don't have to cower helplessly. I recognize the potential for more bad things to happen prior to the resolution of these investigations... best call it "inevitability."
It's a dangerous world; made unnecessarily more dangerous by the actions of our own government (which, just yesterday, "mistakenly" killed over 60 Syrian military personnel, thereby allowing ISIS forces, at least temporarily to take the position held by the Syrian position bombed by American led forces), but even if the American Empire were as benificent as our propaganda and fragile-national-ego insists that it is, it would still be a dangerous world, and this would be a dangerous country, which, thanks to our bizarre worship of both firearms and psychotrophic drugs, hasa murder rate that is just about the highest in the developed world (Mexico's, Turkey's and Estonia's are a bit higher, if you're willing to count them as our peers).
What of it? Damned if I know. All I can say to the rest of you, is go live your lives. Don't buy into the fear-mongering, both subtle and not subtle, that has come to dominate public discourse. [Yes, I recognize the irony of concluding this post in the imperative tense...]
Update: (9-19-16) Rather quickly, after an evening that included the discovery (and then "uncontrolled detonation") of an explosive device at a train station in Elizabeth, NJ, a man from that city has been identified as a suspect in the Chelsea bombings. Significance? To be determined...