Here are the things I’ve added in the past week. Added to the list of things that scare me:
• Backpacks: Who knows whether a pressure cooker might not be inside? • Pressure cookers: I always thought they were dangerous and got rid of mine long ago. But HOW dangerous they are I only learned this past week. • Boston Marathon: Even in the past I watched it at most on television. But since last Monday there are surely also other anxious persons who will avoid the Boston Marathon from now on. And all other marathons too. And for that matter, major events and mass gatherings of every sort. • Boston: It’s not been so long since this town lost its fixed association with the “Boston Strangler.” Then came the suicide attackers of 9/11, who started out from Boston on their deadly flights. Now Boston has gained a new association and dimension of fear, along with Newtown, Aurora, Utoya (Norway), Winnenden, Erfurt (school shootings in Germany), Columbine.
The following points have been on my list for a long while. But the events of the last week have moved them up in order of priority:
• U.S.A.: I would not voluntarily travel to Iraq, Syria or other “crisis regions.” But gun-riddled America is also a threat to life and limb. Every day 82 persons die in the U.S. by gunshot violence. That includes suicides, a fact which is hardly consoling. Nonetheless, the Democratically controlled Senate failed this week to pass a compromise bill that would have modestly strengthened national gun control measures. • Islamist extremists: They scare me, just as violence-prone Christian fundamentalists, right-wing hate groups and left-wing extremists do. Only the latter have not been in the spotlight in the last week.
Up to this point many people can probably follow me. I have no fear of immigrants or Muslims, but that is not the case at the moment in the U.S., where many Muslims feel justifiable fear of a backlash. Moreover, the hoped-for liberalization of U.S. immigration policy, which had been on track for bipartisan support in the Senate, has now been called into question. After all, the Boston bombers were immigrants. – Always these terrible generalizations!
Apropos generalizations: Right at the top of my list, of course, are men. Everyone knows that the greatest threat of violence comes from men, but one dare not say it aloud for fear of accusations of “unacceptable generalization” or “manhating.”
That brings me back to the beginning, to the pressure cookers. Pressure cookers are not in themselves dangerous, but mostly useful, and reveal their deadly potential only when they are misused, similar to other kitchen aids, for example knives or frying pans. It’s just the same with men. Often they are helpful, even a blessing. And in Boston many, many men, just like many women, ran to help the injured, even under life-threatening conditions. Not to mention the hunt for the presumed terrorists: primarily male actors in the face of danger.
But: How does it happen that acts of terror and mass murder, like acts of violence in general, are almost exclusively carried out by males? And even more importantly: why is it that this obvious question is so rarely asked? If we are not allowed even to raise the issue we will never progress – and must perhaps prepare for a state of permanent lock-down or house arrest such as that endured by panicked residents of Boston, because of 19-year-old, out-of-control youths. But not even from those since liberated Bostonians do I hear the obvious question: what can we do against male violence?
Apropos house arrest: When the Yorkshire Ripper was on the loose between 1975 and 1980, the police advised the women of Yorkshire to stay at home in the evening for their own safety. “Why us?,” responded the women. “Let the men stay home; then we’ll be safe when we go out.”
But we’re not safe at home, too many women must add nowadays. Even and especially at home, pressure cookers can do devastating harm.
(trans.: Joey Horsley)
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