Right on schedule, three more police officers were gunned down yesterday in Baton Rouge.
To those who have begun to understand that the nation seems to be sliding downwards, this did not come as a shock. At the end of each day we wait to hear where the latest incident has occurred and how many people have been cruelly and needlessly slaughtered for whatever reasons exist.
We are not blood-thirsty. We are simply realistic. An epidemic of violence is leaping state lines, flying under cover of night or after the last and latest injustice has been done to HIM. Or HER, in time. It’s not a matter of ISIS – and we do not believe that the truck that careened down the boardwalk in Nice had anything at all to do with Islamic terrorism – the man was in the middle of a divorce, he had just recently lost his job, he couldn’t see his children. Those are not excuses or pleas for understanding and sympathy, just facts.
How easy it is to claim responsibility for something that happens thousands of miles away and, after all, no one else has spoken.
If, as people say, the stock market hates uncertainty, think how much more jittery those who do not have money parked there and thus have little or no hope of recouping what they are in the midst of losing – their homes, their jobs, their self-respect – are.
One of the items in yesterday’s post (“Another New Normal”) that was lost in listing incidents that cause us all to reconsider our own welfare is the totally stunning work done by, for example, the NYPD and its local FBI office. (A sidebar: think how amazing some new figures on the national scene are, like the police chiefs in Dallas and Cleveland.)
This is not a journalist’s attempt to balance what he covers with opposing information or points of view. “Fair and balanced” has become a watchword and joke on FOX.
But in reconsidering what we saw in New York a few weeks ago – the thousands upon thousands of “soft targets” totally (it seemed at the time) unprotected, and in fact impossible to protect – we realized that the NYPD and the FBI must have been doing spectacular work to keep the millions there safe and confident.
We also recalled another piece of the security puzzle. The man at the theatre to which we went was not, we believe, a marshal or a policeman. He may not have been armed at all. He was standing at the entrance to the theatre and (perhaps) on his own checking women’s handbags for weapons and/or explosives. He was an American taking things into his own hands because he believed in what he was doing and wanted to do it well. An ordinary citizen to whom being on guard had become the new normal.
Some politicians are quick to criticize the President for not doing more to vocally support the nation’s law enforcement structure. We think Obama, with millions in his train, doesn’t want more heartbreak and death, and perhaps fears that by focusing on what has already so egregiously happened regardless of clime and time that by shining a spotlight on his loyal troops he will only be highlighting them as targets. Alas, his fears are groundless. People who want to kill police have already made up their minds to do so. The sweetest, the toughest words in the dictionary have little or no impact on them.
Since we don’t – should not and cannot – know to what lengths the NYPD and other agencies around the country are doing to protect us, it’s difficult to praise them too highly. We’re in the dark, but so are they. Under our blazer as we entered the theatre could have been a suicide belt. What then?
The thousands of “soft targets” who mill through Times Square at all hours of the day and night cannot, realistically, be protected from harm. One warming thought: how many of the myriad tourists and gawkers, sellers of drugs and purveyors of flesh, families vacationing, friends meeting for drinks, realize that in their midst there are men and women well-trained and eagle-eyed whose task is gigantic – saving us from ourselves.