New Yorkers Continue Living Their Lives Because Honestly I Have Too Much To Do
by Maria Byrne
Staff I'm Walking Here
Currently, the tristate area is on high alert from a series of bombing attacks in New York and New Jersey over the weekend. For those of you who are not familiar (I’m probably talking to no one), here are the general details: a bomb went off in New York around 8:30 p.m. Saturday on West 23rd Street between 6th and 7th avenues, spraying shrapnel at bystanders and causing a lot of broken glass and general property damage. A second undetonated device, a Sputnik-like pressure cooker with wires sticking out of it with a cell phone attached, was found on 27th street. Another blast occurred in Seaside Park, NJ during a charity race, and pipe bombs were found near a train station in Elizabeth, NJ (many of these bombs did not even detonate, and no one in NJ was injured). The police arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami on Monday in a shoot-out in Linden, NJ after linking him to both the New York and New Jersey bombings.
Although the bombing rattled the area and injured 29 people, they were all released from the hospital within the day after, and New Yorkers have proven to be very resilient in response. New York may have been too busy debating some very important points: a stream of tweets pointed out the fact that 23rd and 6th Avenue was actually Flatiron, not Chelsea. Another tweet sighted a list of New York fears ranked: 1) Pushed onto subway tracks, 2) Seamless outage, 3) Have to go to Times Square, 4) Favorite bar gentrified, and following then 1,563) ISIS. While I would have liked the list to include a fear of a pizza rat return with no video proof, it still shows New York general feelings in the wake of this seemingly traumatic event. While every terrorist act sparks some concern, New York citizens have set a standard for the rest of the United States: living in fear is ridiculous, and there are other things to be done (literally so many things).
Like everyone else, I woke up on Monday morning with an emergency alert dictating me to call 911 if I spotted 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami. I entertained the thought of spotting this man on my walk to FMH because if I ever happened to stumble upon a terrorist on the run, I truly hope it would be there. However, the news quickly followed with his capture in a “police shoot-out.” While the emergency alert did not cause me or my friends/frenemies any actual alarm, a real concern is the manifestations of these sort of alerts, especially in the wake of racist, xenophobic, far-right America. While this has not really affected my life in any way, it reminds me how much this will further make my Muslim and friends of color targets of ignorant hate. While it was a relief to see the man caught, the notification will unfortunately lead to city- and nation-wide racial profiling.
Homeland security and terror threats return to the front-burner for the presidential campaign. Donald Trump seized on the New York blast within hours of it occurring, even going past authorities by declaring that a “bomb” before it was actually confirmed to be an explosive device, with the comment, “We better get very tough, folks.” Hillary responded saying law enforcements should get the support they need to bring those responsible to justice. Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine offered a slightly more deliberate response saying that the Chelsea bombing “raises the stakes on the need to be really, really smart in dealing with challenges like this, both with the law enforcement community but also to make sure we’re doing what we can to stop any lone wolf attacks in the United States” (Bloomberg). Obama visited New York and praised the tough and resolute response of New York and New Jersey, urging the rest of America to follow suit. He highlighted the motivation of terrorists: to try and hurt innocent people and to thus inspire fear in citizens. By New Yorkers reacting the way that they did, they did not succumb to this fear and continued to go about their regular Saturday evenings.
While the Chelsea bombing could spark further fear-mongering tactics and ignorant hate rhetoric in the upcoming election as well as potential targeting of Muslims and brown bodies, it also shows a large dissonance between the people actually experiencing incidents such as the New York blast and the reactions of people who have distance from these issues. While people and property experienced some rattling and injury, no one was severely wounded or killed, and most of Ahmad Khan Rahami’s bombs did not even go off. While a majority of the country wants to make claims of an ISIS attack in NYC, actual New Yorkers head to the deli and complain about transit delays. In conclusion, life goes on, and you can choose your level of reaction to events like these without being a racist asshole.