July 10, 2006

Ok, this ISN'T terrorism, but it could have been!

It is just over an hour since a building near the corner of 62nd and Madison exploded and collapsed, yet already the White House is categorically denying that terrorism had anything to do with it.

Now, I happen to believe that in a city with 100-year-old infrastructure it is indeed much more likely that this explosion is the result of a gas-leak or arson than an attack, yet isn't it odd that the White House could claim to be so sure so soon?

I'm naturally skeptical of anyone that believes anything so surely that there is no room for doubt. And in this instance the building is still burning and an investigation hasn't even begun.

Does the White House think that it would know of every possible terrorist plot, and since this one wasn't on their radar it couldn't be terrorism? Or are they merely saying what they think is the most soothing thing to say to a twitchy city, in a surprisingly nuanced understanding of our mindset?

The Administration's clumsy attempt to reassure the nation and New York that everything that explodes isn't necessarily the result of terrorism stands in stark counterpoint to the culture of fear they've meticulously constructed over the past five years. After an unrelenting wave of orange alerts, where every conceivable attack on New York becomes a front page story, this attempt to assuage our fears is actually a pleasant change of pace.

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