Monday, April 15, 2013
Someone has to ask: What happens if the Boston bombing is replicated in Waikiki?
by Larry Geller
Like many readers, I spent a good part of the day glued to Twitter and the Boston police scanner feed. In part because, I’ll have to admit, of fear that the same thing could happen here.
The images were shocking, and the news that runners who had just crossed the finish line had to have their legs amputated… well, I have no words that work to describe my multiple emotions.
And then Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued what I’ll say with great restraint, is a very problematic statement. Read it on the Star-Advertiser web page: Honolulu is safe, Caldwell assures residents (Star-Advertiser, 4/15/2013).
They have the Boston Marathon. We have the Honolulu Marathon. There is no way that any amount of police/federal/military cooperation can prevent a knapsack bomb from being brought into Hawaii. Yes, we are a peaceful people, but someone arriving here from the outside world intent on wreaking havoc will not be.
My view: we are as vulnerable as any other city, at least.
As I’ve pointed out before, we can’t even keep illegal fireworks out, nor are our police any good at all in stopping their use.
More: a similar event in Honolulu, particularly in Waikiki, can quickly turn off the spigot on tourist dollars flowing into our economy. It is precisely because of that effect, coupled with the density of tourists in Waikiki, that could make us a prime target.
For now, I just want to make that observation.
Honolulu is different from Boston (who would have figured Boston for an attack, anyway?). One difference is that their economy will not take the hit ours would.
I don’t know what Caldwell should say, or what could be done to prevent a similar event from happening here. Across the world, these bombings happen all too frequently, and Honolulu has no special immunity.
Long-term, we might double-down on diversifying our economy, but the trouble with that is that no one knows how to do it.
I think of the tsunami warnings in Waikiki and how the cars trying to get out of the area all back up on the Ala Wai and grid lock the neighborhood.
Larry, exactly what was troubling about the Mayor's statement. Sounded like the standard one every Mayor gives in cases like this. I don't think anyone should read much into these things.
I can't say anything about what other mayors might have said, but it doesn't compute for me in several ways. For example, we may be the "safest city in America," but that is unrelated to this kind of bombing. Boston had barriers up, the area was well patrolled, and yet this happened. Or, “I like to believe the people of Honolulu, with the aloha spirit and how we’re a small community … that these bad things will never happen here..." Of course it could happen here, and it may or may not be perpetrated by someone from the community, brimming with aloha. First step should be to realize that it can happen, and maybe say something about what is being done to minimize the chance of success. Anyway, that was my reaction.