The events of this past weekend in Times Square confirmed to many that, despite the dorkiness of the "If you see something, say something" catchphrase, it really is important for civilians to report "suspicious activity" to the police. But Slate's Noreen Malone took a walk through the neighborhood, and rightly observes that most everyone in that area looks to be engaged in some kind of suspicious activity, from the Naked Cowboy to the fedora-wearing veterans who called the cops on Faisal Shahzad's smoking Pathfinder.
She reports on the cornucopia of potential terrorists she saw on a day when no terroristic events took place at all:
I saw a clean-cut white guy with darting eyes, talking loudly to himself. An older black gentleman with darting eyes dragging a duffle bag on the ground behind him, talking loudly to himself. A nervous-looking guy of indeterminate ethnic origin with darting eyes and a Mets ski cap on a sunny, 80-degree day, talking to himself but quietly ... a Brazilian tourist who had way too many shabby bags in tow, and an off-duty Indian pilot who was carrying a grocery bag around his neck like a cape, food stains running down his shirtfront ... I walked into the W hotel, effortlessly bypassing the "security check-point", and waited in the lobby for a few minutes, constructing Bourne Identity back stories for the well-heeled Euro guys sitting by themselves, staring into their laptops. I peered into a small orange dumpster in front of a Swarovski store under renovation. It was filled with discarded wires and old smashed drywall. It looked, in other words, just like the bombs in The Hurt Locker.
No wonder everyone in Times Square is muttering to themselves. Dwelling on all of that day after day would make anyone crazy. We're sticking with our usual plan, which is never, ever going to Times Square.