An Outbreak of Order in NYC
by Butler Shaffer
*** begin quote ***
Upon landing in the river, and with the fate of 160 people in the balance, rescue efforts immediately began. Officials of the FAA, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, New York Mayor Bloomberg, and Senator Hillary Clinton, all descended on the scene to begin helping passengers to safety. No? It didn’t work out that way? But it must have been so. Is it not an integral part of our thinking that social order can be fostered and sustained only by a political system that can plan for responses to troublesome events? Wasn’t this the logic upon which federal, state and city governments acted in New Orleans, following hurricane Katrina? Do we not elect politicians who, in turn, create bureaucracies to make our lives secure?
Initially, the only seen presence of government at the site of the U.S. Airways emergency landing involved police helicopters interfering with rescue efforts by keeping the water around the plane churned up. These helicopters were of value to the state, of course, as a visual symbol of its superintending presence above a scene in which its practical role was nonexistent. Like a president or state governor flying over an area hit by a tornado or flooding, such an aerial presence reinforces the vertically-structured mindset upon which political authority depends. After rescue efforts were substantially completed – with no loss of life – New York and New Jersey police officials arrived (those whom the New Jersey governor incorrectly described as the “first responders”).
The real work of rescuing passengers and crew members was left to the sources from which the only genuine social order arises: the spontaneous responses of individuals who began their day with no expectation of participating in the events that will henceforth be high-water marks in their lives. After the airliner came to a stop, one private ferry-boat operator, sensing the danger of the plane’s tail submerging, began pushing up on the tail in an effort to keep it elevated. Other private ferry-boat operators – whose ordinary work involved transporting people between New York and New Jersey – came to the scene in what became a spontaneously organized rescue under the direction of no one in particular. Photos of the area show the plane surrounded by ferryboats on all sides.
*** end quote ***
My point exactly. The Ferry Boat guys (captain and crew) and THEIR PASSENGERS who lent a hand were the real unsung heros in this “miracle”.
# # # # #