ISIS released a video this week suggesting a terror attack in New York City. New Yorkers struggled, once again, to understand how terrorism could impact their daily lives.
A day of official responses
The ISIS video features images of a TGI Fridays and taxicabs, Times Square and Herald Square, interspersed with the preparations of a suicide bomber. Some of the images were old — the threat was not new, either.
Mayor Bill de Blasio stood in the real Times Square on Wednesday night, calling the video "an obvious attempt to intimidate the people of NYC," and stressing that there was "no credible and specific threat" against the city.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said in the morning: "Fear is the oxygen of terrorism."
A response to the ISIS threat itself
On the Upper East Side Hillary Rodham Clinton, taking another step away from her former boss's foreign policy, delivered a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations on how to "defeat and destroy" ISIS, not "deter or contain" it. She encouraged enlarged support for those in the region who are taking the fight to ISIS, stopping short of a large ground presence.
A response to the refugee crisis
Unfortunately, the ISIS threat has been mostly conflated with the debate over accepting refugees in the U.S.
In Washington, the House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten the refugee screening process, a vote that followed hysterical, ahistorical calls by some (including New Jersey's Chris Christie, who wouldn't accept a 3-year-old) to stop accepting refugees from Syria.
It's worth remembering that the current screening process takes 18 months to two years, and though there are always risks associated, America is taking far fewer refugees proportionally than much of the West.
Syrian refugees would not be new visitors to New York City. There have been Syrian communities in New York for so long that they've moved centers multiple times, from Lower Manhattan to downtown Brooklyn to Bay Ridge and nearby Paterson, New Jersey.
An unofficial response
In Herald Square, NYPD Strategic Response Group teams stood guard in front of a thicket of Christmas trees, assault weapons across their chests, going half-deaf from the unstoppable Salvation Army bell ringers at the beginning of their occupational season. Macy's employees put the final touches on the Charlie Brown holiday windows.
In front of the cops, Mary-Ann Trippet, a voice actor, smiles and holds a whiteboard that says "I REFUSE TO LIVE IN FEAR AND HATRED."
"Last night, I started to feel some fear," Trippet says, "I woke up this morning shaking with rage." She says she felt compelled to say that this city "won't back down, because if we do they win," a phrase that is now as ubiquitous as I Love NY.
Trippet is from California, "the land of peace and love," she says, but has been here 17 years. "I felt like everyone needed to unite in love. I think the more we share that … it spreads. It's too easy to huddle in your house. I've been getting a lot of love today."
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