Jack EngelhardJack Engelhard’s classic international bestselling novel Indecent Proposal, which later became a worldwide hit movie, has been republished to meet readers’ demands. His other major works include Compulsive: A Novel, his award-winning post-Holocaust Montreal memoir Escape from Mount Moriah, plus Slot Attendant: A Novel About A Novelist. His website: www.jackengelhard.com
Guts are what we expect from America.
So it has come to this: We say otherwise, but finally the one thing we fear is fear itself.
Some 36,000 runners competed in Monday’s Boston Marathon and about a million spectators watched and cheered from the sidewalks and the good news is that nobody got hurt.
Last year three people were killed and more than 200 were injured when two radicalized Muslims set off bombs approaching the finish line.
The bad news is that the good people of Boston and the good people all across the United States now expect the worst.
That’s the new normal.
Every time a bomb does NOT go off we declare victory. We pat ourselves on the back for being Boston Strong.
True. Boston and the million-plus that showed up proved themselves to be valiant and resilient. Among those that ran within the 26.2-mile route were men and women who were stopped from finishing last year due to the impact of the successive blasts, and some returned in wheelchairs.
That took guts, but guts are what we expect from America.
We also expect terrorists to be there waiting for us wherever we work and play. We prefer not to name them Islamic terrorists lest we offend Islamic terrorists.
We put up a brave face to pretend that everything is okay, that nothing can keep us from going about our business, and yet we must double-lock our doors to keep ourselves safe from intruders. We can’t board planes without being searched and we can’t enter buildings without passing a checkpoint – but some blame Israel for erecting barriers against the same violent trespassers.
In fact whatever we know about Islamic terror, the Israelis knew it first and they continue to experience it from day to day.
We should start paying attention and learn something from them.
From 9/11 onward we learned that we are prey and we were taught that “if you see something, say something.”
Suspicion is the new normal.
We can never fully enjoy ourselves at any public event. Where will it come from next – the air, land or sea?
Last year the bombs came from backpacks that two Chechen brothers were wearing. Backpacks were forbidden yesterday in Boston.
What we can and cannot wear, what we may or may not carry, that too is the new normal.
Why do they hate us? We don’t know. But it’s always something; something we did or didn’t do. Doesn’t take much to rile them up.
The two murderous Chechen brothers came here as refugees and sometime-students.
As we keep bringing more of them into our country, we hope and we pray that there are not too many likeminded “refugees” and “students.”
But we can’t be sure.
For Monday’s event to go off without a hitch – to pretend that everything is NORMAL – Boston doubled its police presence to around 3,500. That was only a start. Along the route were local, county, regional and federal law enforcement personnel. The military was deployed. Bomb-detection dogs were on patrol.
Cameras were installed to monitor mile after mile. A sound system covered the distance in case participants and spectators had to be told to run for cover.
Ambulances and hospitals were on standby.
We have no choice except to fence ourselves in. We congratulate ourselves on our courage. “We will not be deterred,” says the police chief.
But everything has changed.
Welcome to this, our new world where “normal” needs to be constantly revisited and redefined.