It’s eminently understandable why participants in a Dyke March might be inclined to harbor some fear, given that Naxos stepped forward at the Motor City march to conclusively demonstrate the flaw in Darwin’s theory.
When word of gunshots spread at the D.C. March, running for cover was hardly an unreasonable thing to do.
Moments later, I heard the sound of people banging on doors and yelling something. I thought maybe it was people celebrating who crossed a line from revelry into rowdiness. I could tell that the sound was traveling down the hall. And then it became clear to me what they were yelling: “Help us! Somebody help us!”
As I approached the door to peer out of the peephole, a group of four young women were banging on my door. I opened it and they rushed in, explaining that they were at the parade, someone said that there were shots and they ran. They ran into my hotel and up the stairs to my floor.
Like any decent person, Charles Blow provided sanctuary to these four young women, although it’s unclear why they ended up on his floor, in front of his hotel room door. Kismet? Whatever. He says it happened that way, and there’s no reason to doubt him.
It eventually became clear that it was a false alarm. There had been no gunshots. They gathered their things to leave the room, and one asked if I was also leaving to go to the party, for which I was now quite late. I said no, that I was going to finish getting dressed.
She responded, the fear returning to her face, “Please walk us down.” I said, still trying to lighten the mood: “Well, looks like I’ll be getting dressed on the elevator. Let’s go.”
I walked them to the front door, and we parted ways.
As Blow explains, he is a father of a daughter, and wouldn’t he want someone to take his daughter in if she was in fear of violence? I know I would. It’s hard to imagine any father who wouldn’t. It’s hard to imagine any decent person who wouldn’t provide shelter to a person in fear of harm.
But at the point where it’s clear that there were no gunshots, there was no threat of harm and that whatever reasonable fear seized the four young women, it was no longer real. And yet, the reasonable basis for fear having passed, Blow was asked to walk the women down. And he did, even though there was no longer any rational basis to be afraid.
It bothered me for the rest of the evening that the entire time the women were in my room they kept apologizing for being there, for disturbing me. It seemed to me that it was I who should have been apologizing to them, or more precisely, it was my generation that should be apologizing to theirs.
It is us who have watched mass shooting after mass shooting and done almost nothing about it, other than to breed and train into our young people a reflexive run-for-your-life or shelter-in-place sensibility.
Blow is half right. It is his generation that bred and trained fear into young people, rather than strength and self-reliance. It is his generation that taught them that fear, whether rational or irrational, should consume their reason. It is his generation that turned young people into weaklings, incapable of standing up to fears, real or imagined. Indeed, teaching them that their irrational fears are every bit as real as things that could actually do them harm.
Those women in my room had every right to fear for their lives. It was perfectly understandable that they could believe that a mass shooter could be anywhere, even at a parade bursting with rainbows.
The occurrence of a mass shooting is an utterly unlikely phenomenon, with lifetime odds of being killed by a mass shooter at 1 in 11,125, That this was a Pride Parade might well alter the odds, to encourage such fear, to call it a “right,” encourages the irrational indulgence of fear rather than the strength and fortitude to face life.
That is the ghastly legacy that my generation has bequeathed to theirs.
Wallowing in irrational fear is, indeed, a ghastly legacy. Blow should apologize for stripping young people of the strength to survive and thrive. What will they do when there’s no savior to open the hotel room door for them or, even after they know it’s safe, walk them back down?