The Venerable, Vulnerable Taxi Drivers of New York

Taxi-460Amitava Kumar in Vanity Fair:

[The stabbed taxi driver, Ahmed H.] Sharif released a statement via the New York Taxi Workers Alliance: “I feel very sad. I have been here more than 25 years. I have been driving a taxi more than 15 years. All my four kids were born here. I never feel this hopeless and insecure before,” said Mr. Sharif. “Right now, the public sentiment is very serious (because of the Ground Zero Mosque debate). All drivers should be more careful.”

We might wish to make allowance for the role of the N.Y.T.W.A. in injecting the correct dose of political context, as in the critical parenthetical insertion in the remark quoted above; nevertheless, an event like this, especially in New York City, cannot be insulated from the vicious rhetoric that has swirled around us in recent weeks. The blogosphere is already alight with accusations that Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have blood on their hands.

Tempting as it may be to repeat this analysis, I don’t wish to discount another factor: the sense of power, and even the false intimacy with the Other, that [Michael] Enright [the alleged assailant] would have experienced in Afghanistan. His behavior inside the cab also goes to show how embedded he is in the narrative of the U.S. military adventure. Are only Palin and Gingrich to be blamed for it?