Is It Terrorism If Were Not Terrified?
My spring trip to New York City happened last weekend; I
spent as much time as I could manage with my family and friends.
Cocktails at Grand Central Terminal, Chinese food down the
street from the UN, hotel room just off Times Square, all
set against a backdrop of CNN reports of suicide bombings
in Riyadh and Casablanca...
September 11th weaves itself into conversations in New York,
but conversations turn over, at some point, to more immediate
or more joyful things. The time spent talking about terrorism
is not about being terrified. It is more about wanting closure,
justice, and completeness. None of my friends discuss The
New Normal, or go to Ground Zero, and they
do not seem particularly jittery. Instead, they
observe that not a single sign on any street or subway that
said "World Trade Center" has been taken down or
changed. They notice that the fellows who once played steel
drums in the 42nd Street station have been replaced by NYPD
patrols with dogs. My friends and I feel angry and put upon,
but not terrified. Not even close to terrified.
As our group of eight emerged from the excellent dinner at
Jimmy Sungs (a favorite of ours for their conversation-inducing
round tables), we heard two young men shouting at each other
on the street. They were a few feet from one another and a
few feet from us, and for a beat or two we were concerned
that something unpleasant was about to take place between
them. But by the third beat we realized that these guys were
simply trading friendly insults at the decibel level required
on a Manhattan side street. We relaxed after a tense moment,
and told our own jokes to one another. And it is to one another
that we have turned, and will continue to turn: not cowed,
not weakened, but observant and resolute.
Attack New Yorkers? Oh, bad, bad idea.