Just in case the terrorists hadn’t been thinking along Homer-Dixon’s lines, the real blackouts provided a doozy of a roadmap. A northeaster corridor covering millions of people crashed, leaving hundreds of thousands—or more—stranded. Elevators stopped. Water fountains went dry. Traffic lights went dark—as did all lights for hundreds of miles. Highways turned into parking lots. Hundreds of flights were diverted or canceled. Subway systems, denied the electricity that is their lifeblood, ground to a halt. Subway-dependent New York City was particularly hard hit.
Aerial shots over the West Side of Manhattan during afternoon rush hour showed an untold number of specks massing toward the handful of ferries, the only transportation from the island to New Jersey. Later that night, thousands of Manhattanites camped out in Times Square, dabbling in a fleeting moment of “community.” Even into Friday, the pain was still being felt, as few flights were coming in or out of New York, and even fewer cell phones were operational.
But what didn’t happen was more remarkable.
There was one heat-related heart attack in New York, and only a handful of injuries. Instead of looting, people held barbeques and ice cream parties to consume food before it expired. Instead of people at each other’s throats, people merrily stood side-by-side as they lined their throats with alcohol. Even in famously testy New York, people were nicer to each other under enormous stress than they otherwise would have been.
Sure, the terrorists may strike us as hard as whatever it was that hit us Thursday. But even if they do as much damage as was done, America will persevere—without even breaking a sweat. Just as we have always done before.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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