The smart response to terror attacks, however lame it may seem, is to make a show of being unfazed: We will go on; it’s just a delay in the commute. God forbid you get angry. Yesterday morning, people hunted for the reactions on Twitter, including my own, that weren’t up to snuff. Dark humor was labeled, “Not cool,” especially if it was pointed. Unable to whip the Islamist-terrorism problem, we could at least lash out at each other.
Admittedly, it is worse in Europe, as many things are. But, yesterday’s incident in New York doesn’t make me feel like broadcasting that I kept my indifference on point. It makes me angry. It makes my loved ones more nervous about my commutes into the city. It requires a price and I don’t like the price on offer.
In Europe the price, at first, was much more surveillance. Increasingly, it has been a circumscription of the bounds of political rhetoric and even thought, in the hopes that by keeping quiet more violence can be avoided. Now the price is physical barriers meant to keep us safe even as they remind us of danger. After a New Year’s celebration gone horribly wrong, one German mayor suggested that perhaps women shouldn’t move about unaccompanied or be so frisky. I don’t want any of these trends coming to America. But I suspect I won’t get my wish. Another year over, a new one just begun.