Refractions of fear in modern America

In less than 24 hours, David Wallace-Wells wrote a vivid account of “The Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Shooting That Wasn’t.” It’s sort of an unwieldy title, but here’s the gist: On Sunday night, applause for Usain Bolt’s 100-meter dash win — airing on televisions in Terminal 8 — was mistaken by someone, and then many people, for gunfire. Fear settled in immediately, and then rampant confusion spread out among stampeding airport travelers and security personnel en masse. Wallace-Wells describes a horrifying setting, an interminable and brutally post-modern nightmare. To reiterate, yes, this happened on Aug. 14 in New York City, in America.

It’s hard for me to find words for the feelings this story conjures. The writer does a great job of it, and he was actually there.

I think there are a lot of lessons to be drawn from this event, and I hope we continue to talk about it. If nothing else, I suppose, it’s one of the most chilling examples of gazing into the abyss — and sensing the abyss gaze back — that I’ve ever encountered.

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