Western countries reacted with expected expression of sympathy and despair to the wanton slaughter of mostly young civilians congregated at so called “soft targets” to begin their weekend in a similar fashion to their counterparts in other European cities and America as well. The choice of Paris for the site of this planned mayhem is not a surprise, Paris has recently been a focal point for Muslim extremism; but the ruthlessness of this random celebration of hatred should be a statement not easily forgotten by liberty loving people across the world, and it will not be. Sadly, such events are foreseeable in a world subjected to terrorism.
Born and raised on the streets of New York City, I had always thought of myself as a New Yorker through and through. But then at the age of twenty-nine, I was sent to Oregon for a few days as part of my job working for New York City mayor John V. Lindsay and my attraction to the state quickly became an obsession. Forty-seven years later and back in New York after living in Oregon on and off for more than four decades, when I hear Oregon mentioned on the national news, I stop in my tracks and my focus is entirely on what is being said – as it was today when I heard of the shooting on the campus of Umpqua Community College in the middle sized (by Oregon standards) community of Roseburg, Oregon, with a population of twenty-thousand. Once again I was an Oregonian and my community took precedence over all else going on around me. I am in large measure what New York made me yet there is enough remaining to make me an Oregonian too for Oregon is the place where I intend to return-someday.
Recently, the FBI thwarted a terrorist attack aimed at the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan. The planned attack by a 21 year old from Bangladesh who arrived in New York six months ago on a student visa is believed to be the act of a “lone wolf”. Thus far the suspect has not been tied to any known terrorist organization but possible connections are being investigated. The FBI and local law enforcement agencies such as the New York City Police Department have successfully prevented a number of planned terrorist attacks from developing since 9/11 as a result of aggressive intelligence efforts; but it is expected that the threat of a home grown terrorist succeeding in an attack on a high profile target remains grave. Best estimates tell us that between 45 and 50 terrorist attacks have been prevented in the United States since 9/11.
Predators preying upon children for sexual gratification are crimes that have touched all segments of our society. Offenders range from parents and clergy to law enforcement officers and elected officials; men and women; grandparents and siblings have all been accused of having committed sex crimes against children. In many cases the offenders, because of their relationship to the victim had a special duty to protect the child from harm, and even a legal duty to report the very act that they themselves committed. While sex crimes offend the public conscience more than most other forms of child of mistreatment of children, it must not be forgotten the abuse of children by adults and other children is happening all around us and that while in some cases the abuse may be difficult to identify for a host of reasons some of which will be identified herein, and it may inflict pain and suffering that the child will carry into adulthood with often physical and psychological consequences difficult if not impossible to reverse.
In America we have always known the difference between demonstrating and rioting. A demonstration has rules and participants for the most part obey them. A riot on the other hand has no rules and rioters therefore feel free to violate legal prohibitions, standards of decency and are willing to act without shame. Demonstrations are usually planned in advance and include an effort to maintain order. They are generally sanctioned and controlled by public law enforcement who place barricades, issue permits for assembly and the use of sound equipment, approve marching routes, and maintain communications with representatives of demonstrating group throughout the life of the public event. Riots are usually spontaneous (or at least claim to be) and from the moment of inception are in violation of law. There are times when demonstrations deteriorate into riots, sometimes even by design. We have seen both demonstrations and riots in American streets. I have found myself in the middle of both in an official capacity over the years.
I recently attended the protest being held across the street from the world trade center site in Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan. I spent a couple of hours walking through the small park where several hundred protesters were gathered to express their concerns about economic conditions in America and the rest of the world. The protesters believe “Wall Street” to be the principal offender if not the exclusive cause of the massive and prolonged unemployment afflicting so many of us. The demonstrators have a number of other issues they believe to be associated with the economic crisis and they are voicing their views about inequities in our immigration policies, as well as concerns about affordable housing, health care, college costs and our prolonged involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were for the most part orderly and self restrained as they make their arguments while searching for wider support from a curious public. The protesters held up their signs and banners and spoke without the bitterness and rancor I had seen in other street protests decades ago, some not far from Zucotti Park. But those protest too started off in atmosphere of optimism and good fellowship.