Oct 8, 2010

move along

Interesting NY Times article, Outside Court, a Failure to Be Fearful, about the seemingly apathetic view of New Yorkers to the terrorist proceedings in the city.
Approached at random and asked if the trials in progress mere yards away made them fearful, several people said no, or they gave looks that unmistakably said, “You’re kidding, right?”
I've been meaning to write about this for a while because it's an interesting phenomenon. As someone who occasionally checks into Facebook and Twitter and reads the paper, I catch a whiff of the zeitgeist of the nation around September 11 each year. Or with regards to related events like the planned building of a mosque near the Twin Towers site. You see the usual phrases, "never forget" and "God bless America" and so forth ooze out of these interactions.

But as a New Yorker and being around New Yorkers it's a very different attitude. It's one of apathy. By that I don't mean defiance. It's apathy. A complete absence of emotion or enthusiasm for any of these events. We don't think about it. Even on September 11 we don't think about it. We are sometimes reminded by the twin lights that go up. "Oh yea it's 9/11". But that's it. I'm not sure why this is. From a rational standpoint it makes sense. That attack was 9 years ago. There have been a few scares here and there. But 99.9% of your time is spent free of such concerns. There's no reason to spend time on it any more than there is reason to dwell on the likelihood of getting hit by a car. Actually in New York that is a much more worthy use of time given how bad drivers are here.

Part of this also is that it's such a diverse city that there is no such thing as "them". We're around everyone all the time. Whatever religion, whatever nationality, whatever language, you see them all on a daily basis. They are not "them." They are New Yorkers.

Part of it also is that the Twin Tower site was not a loved location. It's one of the horrid Superblocks built by the Port Authority. It was devoid of life and energy before the attacks. All the Superblocks are like that. Much like Times Square it's a part of Manhattan that to New Yorkers isn't really part of Manhattan. You never go there. You have no reason to go there. It's a tourist location. You avoid it.

And the mosque? I haven't heard one person talk about it. Not one. New Yorkers don't care if it is built or not. It's irrelevant to 99.99% of us.

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