Like tens of millions of Americans, I will be travelling this this week for Thanksgiving weekend.
At the best of times, Thanksgiving travel is chaotic. Whether it be long lines, heavy traffic, weather and air and ground transport personnel not having any greater idea of what is going on than you, getting from point A to B can be a stressful affair.
This anxiety is now compounded by the recent terrorist attack in Paris at the hands of ISIS. It is believed that an attack is imminent in Brussels and that city is on lock down. Paris and Brussels are an ocean way, but ISIS poses a threat on our shores too. As much as it delights in killing Europeans, nothing delights it more than killing Americans. Following the Paris attacks, jihadist websites boasted, “The American blood is best, and we will taste it soon.” Thanksgiving weekend would be an opportunity for ISIS to taste ample amounts of American blood.
The number one American target for ISIS is New York City and this is where I will be this Thanksgiving weekend visiting my Dad. A few days after the Paris attack, ISIS released a video of New York City featuring Times Square. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Police Chief William Bratton told New Yorkers to ignore the video, emphasizing that the footage is old.
Please forgive me if I see fit to ignore de Blasio and Bratton. I don’t care how old the footage is. Times Square is an indelible part of New York City and ISIS clearly has it in its sights. We are barely five years removed from Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to blow up Times Square with a car bomb. If not for an alert T-shirt vendor, there would have been a bloodbath between West 42nd & West 47th Streets that could have resulted in thousands of deaths. Just because a terrorist was thwarted once doesn’t mean terrorists won’t try again. Even when terrorists carry out a successful attack, they aren’t always satisfied that the job has been done. Lest we forget the World Trade Center.
I have no doubt that security will be beefed up considerably this Thanksgiving weekend. Wherever you might be traveling, the police presence will undoubtedly be visible. Given all the attention that has been focused on the Paris attack there is a very good chance that Islamic terrorists will lie low, be they from ISIS or other terrorist organizations. Yet one can never be sure. Paris was already on high alert as the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks took place only 10 months ago. Evil might retreat, but it never, ever completely recedes.
Set foot on any street or avenue in Manhattan and it is teeming with people at all hours of the day. There are so many places ISIS could target. Aside from Times Square, there is the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. Of course, no Thanksgiving in New York City is complete without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The route runs more than forty blocks down Central Park West through Columbus Circle and Central Park South and onto Sixth Avenue before reaching 34th Street. Three million people are expected to attend the parade. Dad and I will be among the three million. Forty plus blocks and three million people might be too tempting a target for terrorists to resist. Even if nothing happens this year, there’s always next year or the year after that.
Yet I realize that we can’t put life on hold because there are evil people in the world. The world has always been a dangerous place and seems to be getting more dangerous by the day. But for better or for worse, life must go on. Whether things are good or bad, a big part of our American life is family and friends breaking bread on Thanksgiving. Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving (or any other day of the year) be thankful for what you have, but be alert. Keep your eyes and ears open and be aware of your surroundings. Because we could lose the things for which we are most thankful in an instant.