The ruling class is getting sloppy with its Hegelian dialectic. The Las Vegas mass shooting unfolded as the “problem” meant to spawn a “reaction” - demands for more security at concerts and sporting events - leading to a “solution” of TSA-type screenings at all moderate- and large-sized cultural venues. Anyone with half a brain might recall that, no matter who actually shot all those people in Vegas, the shots came from outside the venue. No matter how many shooters there were, or where they were stationed, the gunman or gunmen were not mingling with the crowd. Metal detectors, patdowns, and body scanners would have had no effect on that day’s carnage. Yet here we are, on the other side of the country in New York, with a handful of metal detectors hastily dropped into what once was the beautiful lobby of the Beacon Theatre. A few meatheads herd concertgoers into one or the other grey plastic archway without rhyme or reason, most people requiring a second scan with a handheld paddle because they arrived at the venue not expecting to pass through airport security. Cell phones and keys are taken out of pockets and placed in baskets while their owners pass under the arches. Some bags are checked, some aren’t, and others are noticed only after their owners have cleared security and must be hastily called back to screening in order to be searched. It is a massive, ugly clusterfuck. This does not make anyone safer. This does not even make anyone feel safe.
Security theatre of the Beacon Theatre variety is on display all over New York. Perhaps because we were the site of the largest (false flag) terror attack in American history, we are also the site where most police-state measures are first rolled out. Our police force trains with its Israeli counterpart - the only force whose abuses of power are more legendary than those of American police. Too many New Yorkers are too busy - too busy working to pay rent, too busy trying to create meaningful art, too busy trying to find time to socialize and spend time with their families in between it all - to stand up to the boots stomping on their faces. There is a strong tradition of activism in this city, but it is matched by a strong tradition of repression. The city cannot sleep lest it wake up divested of what shreds remain of its civil liberties.
The truck attack in Tribeca earlier this week is no doubt going to be coopted into a call for even more security theatre, even though vehicular homicide is already illegal and more laws will not stop people bent on murder from killing people. The attack occurred in Lower Manhattan, within the infamous “Ring of Steel” launched in 2008 by Ray Kelly’s NYPD. The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, later renamed the Domain Awareness System, proposed to install 3000 networked security cameras over three years at a cost of $106 million. It was sold as a means of preventing the next 9/11. In 2009, the program was extended to cover Midtown. It was finally completed in 2012, comprising 6,000 cameras. It did not stop Sayfullo Saipov, who was able to drive his rented pickup truck more than a mile down the West Side Highway bike path, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake before broadsiding a school bus. An article in Scientific American specifically mentions “a vehicle going the wrong way down a one-way street” as one of the “suspicious” activities that could be pinpointed by the LMSI. Oops. In a sane society, we might reconsider the wisdom of blanketing the city with surveillance cameras and consider whether that money could be better spent on, say, affordable housing, or fixing our perennially ailing subway system. Instead, we can expect more cameras, more bollards, more of those creepy submerged road-teeth that pop your tires if you back up over them, and less freedom of movement. When all you have is a police state, everything looks like a crime.
Short of banning all vehicles from Manhattan - and don’t assume they won’t try it - there isn’t much New York can do to beef up its already ludicrous levels of “security.” Between our all-war-all-the-time foreign policy, guaranteed to piss millions of people off; the FBI’s affinity for blithely creating its own terror plots in order to heroically “foil” them; and questionable immigration policy (lotteries? really?); we can be sure Saipov will not be the last of his kind. You are still more likely to be killed by falling in the bathtub than by a terrorist attack. A city-wide rollout of bathtub surveillance cameras is in the works.