This is the best one of our wise men can come up with on a moment’s notice. It tells us a lot about vacuity and the shallow mind of a newspaper columnist:
Eric Zorn's Notebook
July 07, 2005
TERROR IN LONDON – THERE’S NO GOOD REASON IT WON’T HAPPEN HERE
After nearly every tragedy or disaster, it’s human nature for those of us not directly involved to tick off the reasons why we weren’t hit, why we couldn’t have been hit.
I don’t work in an internationally significant skyscraper. I don’t vacation in Thailand. I don’t often fly transcontinentally. I don’t live on a coast routinely smashed by hurrircanes or in a small town in the tornado belt. I don't serve in the armed forces. I would never find myself in that kind of neighborhood or be out at that hour.
And, today, I don’t live in London.
It’s mostly nonsense to calm the soul, but it preserves the important illusion that we can be safe, and that horrible things only happen to other people.
The essence of terror, though, is that it shatters that illusion and mocks the notion that any of us can guarantee our safety if we just install enough checkpoints, confiscate enough nail clippers from enough little old ladies and build enough barriers around us.
That essence is what we forget when we think of “terror” as an organized, opposing army that our military can fight and perhaps defeat, and when we put “terror” only in the context of spectacular acts of mass murder such as those of 9/11/2001.
“Terror” is a near-paralyzing fear of the random, the sudden, the unpredictable. It’s the absence of sanctuary. It’s the corrosive, destructive sense that no place is safe and none of the old rules of engagement apply.
With every car bombing and suicide slaughter in Iraq in recent months and with today’s deadly series of rush-hour explosions in London, the same thought hits me: There’s no good reason we haven’t seen such small-scale attacks here –- bombs hidden in vans, suitcases, sewers, tunnels, mall trash receptacles -– and no reason to assume we won’t.
One reason you don’t read this thought very often is that there’s no ringing follow-up to it; no “…and yet we will meet this challenge with…” to calm the heart. And so most of us superstitiously avoid mentioning it in hopes that somehow the vicious, disaffected zealots in America will always be different from those overseas.
My son was on the subway this morning at the very moment I heard the news from London. I knew he was safe --- in fact he called when he emerged from the below-ground station in the Loop to get directions to the bus stop -- and I didn’t feel terror.
But I did feel again the nagging tug of terror’s point man: Dread.
Posted by ezorn at July 7, 2005 09:49 AM