David M. Brown's Blog

September 10, 2009

NYC’s “irreducible presumptions” after September 11, 2001

Filed under: News,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 6:12 pm

A good New York Times article about the mood in New York City after the attacks of September 11, 2001, tells us:

So much has been said and written about what happened on 9/11. The following day is forgotten, just another dulled interlude in the aftermath of an incoherent morning.

But New Yorkers were introduced that day to irreducible presumptions about their wounded city that many believed would harden and become chiseled into the event’s enduring legacy.

New York would become a fortress city, choked by apprehension and resignation, forever patrolled by soldiers and submarines. Another attack was coming. And soon.

Tourists? Well, who would ever come again? Work in one of the city’s skyscrapers? Not likely. The Fire Department, gutted by 343 deaths, could never recuperate.

Maybe. But as the article goes on to recount, any such saturating pessimism about “irreducible” presumptions faded pretty quickly. New Yorkers proved resilient, as did the country. Although we’re still stuck with some of the baleful consequences of that day, including the determinedly obtuse “security” regime at airports, which confiscates 2/3 empty tubes of toothpaste. (Not an exaggeration; happened to me last year on my way out of New York. When I pointed out that there wasn’t much toothpaste left in the tube, the security dude told me they go by the measurement stated on the package. By this reasoning, a five-pound tube of toothpaste that states “.0001 ounces” on the tube would pass muster easily.)

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