Every now and then, the big red light goes off in newsrooms across the world. It's the 9-11 alarm, a huge klaxxon that warns of the impending 'day to end all days' coming again. You can see it in popular culture, from Flashforward to Heroes and everywhere - it's almost as if people have some sense of disappointment that there'll never be a day like it.
So when you hear about an alleged terrorist attack, in New York, that sounds big. Really big. "Break glass in case of emergency and start panicking like headless chickens" kind of big.
Big enough to worry about. Big enough to link to those dirty brown folk as soon as possible, regardless of the complete and utter lack of evidence:
But don't worry! It's only whitey.
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier cast doubt on a claim by the Pakistani Taliban that it was behind the attempt.
Police have released CCTV footage of a white man seen removing his shirt near the scene and putting it in a bag.
Not that that stopped people from wildly speculating in the aftermath of the thankfully amateurish attack, though, as Upon Nothing points out. And since these stories are going to fade away, now that the big red flashing lights and klaxxons have stopped going off because it's only whitey, there will doubtless be a lot of people who link these attacks with the usual suspects, even if no-one is ever caught, or even if someone is caught who turns out not to be an extremist Islamist terrorist.
The rather strange thing is that the description of the suspect as white seems to make it all right somehow. Oh, only whitey having a bit of fun, never mind, he's liable to do that. Of course, if he turns out to be a white convert to Islam, then everything will crank back into life, and it'll be a story again - but until and unless that happens, it's just another crazy, another crank. And there's something unsatisfying about that, as if white folk who'd happily blow a few unsuspecting passers-by up in Times Square are OKish, because they're not involved in some kind of supranational conspiracy which justifies a war; whereas other crazies, who have undergone some kind of 'radicalisation' or 'training', are necessarily more dangerous, or their murders would somehow be more terrible. Who knows? Maybe whoever did this was 'radicalised' by watching Glenn Beck barking away on Fox News rather than attending Friday prayers.
But there you are. Stand down for now. Switch off the panic buttons and the 9-11 alarms. It's nothing like that again, yet. Thankfully. And thankfully, it seems it's only whitey, so that's all right then.
*update* The news that a US citizen 'of Pakistani origin' has been arrested in New York might mean this is suddenly really important again.