Letter From New York 01 08 15 Starting with the Magna Carta…

To the left of me, the Hudson River is steel grey, ice clinging to its shores. The sun is just beginning to set to the West. I’m headed north after a day in the city, going home to see if my pipes have frozen.

It is bitterly cold here; not as cold as the Midwest but nearly so. I don’t remember a time when the wind chill was predicted to reach minus thirty-five in Claverack, not in the fourteen years I have been here.

It is beautiful, this ride up the Hudson, good for thinking and pulling together one’s thoughts or to just absorb the beauty. In the clear channel of the river, barges plow their way through the frigid waters.

In France, the hunt for the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo killings is focused on northern France. In New York, at Penn Station, squads of State Police were present as security throughout the city has been heightened. Extra police are stationed at various news outlets today in case anyone in New York should decide to play copycat.

For a moment today, distracted by the cold, I had forgotten about the massacre in Paris and the ramifications it would have in New York. Whenever there is violence in a western city, New York beefs up security reflexively. We go about our business but never forget we feel like a bull’s-eye is on our back.

Mayor DeBlasio phoned the Mayor of Paris and offered his condolences.

There has been much written today about freedom of the press and Charlie Hedbo, including a very moving one from a journalist from Wired, reporting from the Consumer Electronics Show happening in Vegas. I tweeted his article out today.

In Yemen, thirty-seven were killed in a car bomb attack. In Nigeria, two thousand have died in the latest onslaught of the Boko Haram. But those two events have not captured the world’s attention in the way that the Charlie Hedbo killings have. The articles I’ve read today have speculated it was because they were journalists and freedom of the press is one of the sacred tenets of the West.

800 years ago in 1215, a group of rebel Barons coerced the Magna Carta out of King John, beginning the ongoing process that resulted in our Constitution. 800 years of growing freedom and a few masked men want to roll it all back.

It may be that this assault on journalists has forced us all to think about the freedoms we have as evidenced by Charlie Hedbo exerting its privilege to be provocative, profane, rebellious, etc. It is a privilege that has been earned over generations from the Barons of England to our rebellious Founding Fathers to the peasants who stormed the Bastille in Paris to those who are fighting today in various parts of the world to hold back the darkness.

And that is why, I think, Charlie Hedbo has been so deeply felt by so many. The killings were designed to kill something greater than the poor souls who died; it was an assault of our Western sense of freedom.

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One Response to “Letter From New York 01 08 15 Starting with the Magna Carta…”

  1. Bruce Thiesen Says:

    Nice blog post.

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