The Spectacle Blog

Illusions of Safety

By on 1.10.06 | 10:16PM

A revealing aspect of the grisly mugging murder of New York Times veteran David Rosenbaum in Washington last weekend are reactions of residents in the pleasant neighborhood in which the crime occurred. The Washington Post's coverage has included fewer expressions of outrage at the cruel fate that met the accomplished Rosenbaum than words of new found fear for one's own safety:

"We already take more precautions after dark. This is just terrible news." "It's a remarkably safe neighborhood, or it feels that way...until now." "We have very small children. We'll have our guard up even more, use our alarms more religiously." Before this crime, "There was no fear of things."

"When there's a terrible murder," the writer Paula Fox said in a New York Times Magazine profile five years ago, "people who are interviewed say, 'This has always been a quiet neighborhood.' That is so dumb and uninformed! The earth is not a quiet neighborhood. There isn't anyplace that's a quiet neighborhood...."

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