As we all collectively mourn those murdered in Paris on Friday, it's only natural that we who survived terror in our city just 14 years ago worry that a similar incident could happen here, too. But, an op-ed from The New York Times on Sunday explains why panic is unwarranted.
"The slaughter in France depended on four things: easy access to Paris, European citizens happy to massacre their compatriots, a Euro-jihadist infrastructure to supply weapons and security agencies that lacked resources to monitor the individuals involved," say Steven Simon and Daniel Benjamin, authors of The Age of Sacred Terror. "These are problems the United States does not have — at least not nearly to the degree that Europe does, undermining its ability to defend itself," the pair writes.
They say America has spent hundreds of billions of dollars since 9/11 on homeland security. Our problems with "home-grown terrorists" are not as common as in Europe, as Muslims in our society tend to feel more integrated. Plus, our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, are just as committed to keeping dangerous people out of our country.
But, of course, that doesn't mean we can or should stop thinking about Paris—that strong and resilient city whose beauty, charm and culture is nearly impossible to match, and with whom plenty of New Yorkers feel enamored.
It's a city that's similar to NYC in so many ways (as Gothamist reported Parisians really love Brooklyn; and the feeling is mutual), and that's why Friday's tragic events an ocean away feel so close to us New Yorkers. In a first-person report report in the Financial Times written straight from Paris on Friday night, columnist Simon Kuper's description of life in the city of light will feel familiar to any New Yorker:
"Everyone here lives in a cramped apartment. There are almost no back gardens where you can barbecue or play catch with the kids and shut yourself off from the world. You live in Paris to go out, to meet friends in cafés like the Bataclan, to have conversations with intelligent people from everywhere..."
He continues: "Paris is all about its public spaces — the cafés, the cultural venues and the squares. No city has better ones. And when those public spaces become dangerous — and the Parisian authorities have told people not to leave home unless 'absolutely necessary' — the city crumbles."
It's a sentiment most of us can still remember from just 14 years ago. It's also why we join the chorus of people across the world, perhaps shouting louder than others, to declare: "Paris, je t'aime."