As American cities are increasingly confronted by extremes in weather, social unrest, and general lunacy, you wonder how inviolate mass gatherings, including road races, may be in the years ahead. We take such things as road races and parades and big outdoor concerts for granted. But where lie the limits on our police, fire, and first-responders? Just this past weekend the inaugural Virgin Sport Festival of Fitness in San Francisco was cancelled due to Bay Area wildfires.
But whether it’s California wild fires, hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, or a maniacal fellow traveler with second amendment rights scoping a big concert in Nevada, how much longer before cities begin to question granting permits for such mass public events? Or demand so much more funding that they become unfeasible?
The idea of stretching civic resources too thin came into question most notably in New York City 2012 when Hurricane Sandy blew into town on marathon weekend. Yet up until 48 hours before the race, it was still all systems go. In fact, the marathon was being presented as a potential unifier in troubled times, as it always had been seen before.
That view hit the wall, though, after Staten Island was left crippled without electricity and water, while a front-page photo showed a large generator being set up to power the marathon VIP and media tent in Central Park.
What was the national mantra after 9-11? “Don’t let them change our way of life”, right? But they already have, immeasurably. Look how polarized the country has become over the last 16 years, how security conscious and on edge it is. The simple neighborhood freedoms the Baby Boom generation took as a birthright during their childhoods are long gone as parents hover over their kids in constant apprehension.
From the viewpoint of an Osama bin Laden or Vladimir Putin, what we have become is like a dream come true. What better than having us tear ourselves apart from the inside by using our own freedoms and fears against us? And we are still too naive to see it for what it is and think, like our financial institutions did in 2008, that we are too big and too strong to fail, forgetting that pride comes before the fall.
Look no farther than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ask yourself, any chance the current resident would have been nominated by a major political party, much less be elected to the office of president, in any of our previous elections? Donald Trump is the best president EVER as far as our adversaries are concerned. He’s a living, breathing, one-man wedge issue, both at home and abroad.
While he can’t seem to get enough of the second amendment, he doesn’t even see the irony of questioning a need for the first because he doesn’t like what the free press writes about him – “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” He might just as well be fitted for a seat on the Politurbo.
When the President of the United States is willing to question the freedoms embedded in the Constitution, we are farther down the “we had to burn the village to save it” rabbit hole than we realize. Makes you wonder how safe our other freedoms may soon be, even one as simple as gathering to run freely on our own city streets.