The attack on London Bridge – no, not the 2017 attack, the new one – broke just as I was heading off to guest-host Tucker Carlson’s show at Fox News. There is a small and rather sad “Christmas market” of pop-up stalls at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 44th Street – surrounded, of course, by large concrete blocks placed there in case any radicalized SUV or extremist mid-size rental car were minded to drive up on the sidewalk and mow down shoppers.
In more sophisticated societies such as Angela Merkel’s Germany, the so-called “Merkel Lego” barricading Christmas fairs is painted to look like giant, ill-proportioned candy canes or huge misshapen holly leaves, to add a festive gaiety to security measures.
But in New York the concrete blocks are unadorned except for the stark blue lettering of “NYPD”. I passed them almost every day, and reflected each time on how we’ve agreed to let everything get so bloody ugly in order to avoid addressing what we once used to fret over as the “root causes”.
Mid-town Manhattan traditionally looks beautiful and magical at Yuletide, but that was before it was agreed that, as a young German lady put it to me three years ago, “Christmas will be a target.”
So, an hour or so after the first reports out of London, the NYPD swung into action and the ugly concrete blocks on Sixth Avenue were augmented by a police cruiser flashing blue lights and officers prowling the perimeter – to reassure the public that it’s possible to shop here with a minimal chance of being stabbed, run over or blown up.
That is, if you’re the sort of Christmas shopper who likes to do his Christmas shopping in a sealed fortress. Say what you like about Amazon, but it’s likely to be the last bollard-free retail experience in the western world.
Continued . . .
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