Resilience In The Face Of ‘Terror’ Is Not Just For New Yorkers

Yesterday morning, an incompetent wanna-be suicide bomber almost blew himself up in an underground passageway connecting New York City’s Port Authority and Times Square subway stations.¬† His crude home-made pipe bomb did little damage; indeed, it failed to even kill the would-be kamikaze; it did, however, cause some understandable, instantaneous panic among the many commutersContinue reading “Resilience In The Face Of ‘Terror’ Is Not Just For New Yorkers”

Uncomfortable Conversations: Children And The Bad News

On Friday morning, I finally faced the kind of problem I had heard many other parents make note of: how do you talk about the horrifying in the presence of children? On Thursday night, I had gone to sleep after reading the news reports on the murders in Nice, and on waking up, wanted toContinue reading “Uncomfortable Conversations: Children And The Bad News”

The Intimacies Of Mass Killings

There is an added dimension of the gruesome, the visceral, in reading reports about mass killings where the immediacy and intimacy of the deaths involved becomes apparent. Tales of bombings of distant lands are remote, colorless, obscure, and abstracted; there is a distant plume of smoke, perhaps a spectacular pillar of flame, a mound ofContinue reading “The Intimacies Of Mass Killings”

Self-Policing In Response To Pervasive Surveillance

On Thursday night, in the course of conversation with some of my Brooklyn College colleagues, I confessed to having internalized a peculiar sort of ‘chilling effect’ induced by a heightened sensitivity to our modern surveillance state. To wit, I said something along the lines of “I would love to travel to Iran and Pakistan, butContinue reading “Self-Policing In Response To Pervasive Surveillance”

ISIS, US Policy, And Feeding The Bogeyman

In ‘The Unbearable Lightness of America’s War Against the Islamic State‘ Stephen Walt supplies us the following pull-quote: What is needed is not a single presidential speech, but rather a sustained, all-out effort by top U.S. officials to remind their fellow citizens how safe they actually are. One often hears that fear is inherently irrationalContinue reading “ISIS, US Policy, And Feeding The Bogeyman”

The Offensive Stupidity Of The No-Fly List

Last Friday (July 31st) my wife, my daughter, and I were to fly back from Vancouver to New York City after our vacation in Canada’s Jasper and Banff National Parks. On arrival at Vancouver Airport, we began the usual check-in, got groped in security, and filled out customs forms. The US conducts all customs andContinue reading “The Offensive Stupidity Of The No-Fly List”

Kill All The Cartoonists; God Will Sort Them Out

You read or view a satirical piece or a cartoon in a newspaper or a magazine. It offends you; you are enraged; your deepest sensibilities–personal, religious–have been ravaged and injured. Unable to assuage your feelings by acknowledging the abstract free speech rights of those who have so insulted you, and still caught up in aContinue reading “Kill All The Cartoonists; God Will Sort Them Out”

The Asymmetric Fallout of Operation Protective Edge

‘Collateral damage‘ and ‘friendly fire‘ seem to be two euphemisms with which we–as a civilization–are doomed to be persistently reacquainted. Especially if war continues to retain its popularity as an instrument of foreign policy or even law and order maintenance. Which brings me, of course, to Israel, Gaza, and Hamas. Cycle of violence narratives areContinue reading “The Asymmetric Fallout of Operation Protective Edge”

The 9/11 Attacks: A Terrifying Spectacle, Viewed from Afar

On September 11th, 2001, I was in Sydney, Australia, working as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales. I spent most of the day in my office, composing a long email to my girlfriend back in New York City, my former home for seven years, suggesting we break up. Our long-distance relationshipContinue reading “The 9/11 Attacks: A Terrifying Spectacle, Viewed from Afar”

Does Explanation Constitute Justification? Geras Contra Greenwald and Eagleton

And does it thereby also run the risk of shading into apologia when the event being explained is one that would strike some as a heinous act? In response to the Woolwich killing of a British soldier by machete-wielding assailants, Glenn Greenwald thinks not. Terry Eagleton agrees¬†(in a fashion). Norman Geras disagrees. (As the linksContinue reading “Does Explanation Constitute Justification? Geras Contra Greenwald and Eagleton”