Nation of fear

Salon has a good article about how the country has changed since 9/11. I’ve commented many times to many people that I think we have too much fear-based policy since the attacks, and not enough thought-based policy which is needed. The folks at Salon have said that and so much more in their article titled “Cityscape of Fear.”

Aug. 22, 2006 | Within a week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, officials at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts set up a half dozen massive concrete freeway separators in a stately line across Josie Robertson Plaza, the complex’s main outdoor entryway. The security barricades, unsightly white slabs known as Jersey barriers, were intended to protect the center’s performance halls from a speeding truck bomb. Perhaps only the most unusually cultured of terrorists would want to hit Lincoln Center, which sits five miles north of ground zero on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — but in the tense aftermath of the attacks, no precaution seemed too much. Lincoln Center groundskeepers thoughtfully topped the Jersey barriers with colorful potted plants, a rehabilitation technique along the lines of pinning a tiara on Medusa. Almost five years have passed since the attacks. The barriers remain in place.

To appreciate how America has changed since 9/11, walk slowly through any major city. What you’ll see dotting the landscape is the physical embodiment of fear. Security installations put up after the attacks continue to block public access and wrangle pedestrian traffic. Outside Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, garish purple planters menace rush-hour pedestrian traffic. The gigantic planters have abandoned all horticultural ambition, many of them blooming with nothing more than trash and untilled dirt. “French barriers,” steel-grate barricades meant for controlling crowds, ring many landmark sites — including San Francisco’s Transamerica Building — like beefy bodyguards protecting starlets. Then there are the bollards, the cylindrical vehicle-blocking posts that are so pervasive you wonder if they’ve mastered asexual reproduction. In Washington, bollards surround everything. Not since Confederate Gen. Jubal Early attacked the city in 1864 has the nation’s capital felt so under siege.

Read more about what we are losing by letting fear run our lives and determine how we act. It’s a long article, but well worth the time it takes to read it. Terrorists win by spreading terror. They don’t win because they destroy some buildings or kill some people. They win because they change how we live and make us scared to live well. Don’t let the terrorists win. Stop fearing what they might do.

[tags]Cityscape of fear, How fear affects the nation[/tags]