Etan: The End

Readers – As I”m sure almost all of you have heard, there has been an arrest, 33 years too late, of a man who confesses to murdering Etan Patz.

In the wake of 6-year-old Etan’s 1979 disappearance came the era we are living in to this day, the “Don’t let your child out of your sight, he could be snatched like that little boy” era. It’s an outlook reinforced daily by the media (“Up next: Children at risk!”) and the marketplace (“Buy this! Your children are at risk!”). It has been embraced by schools (“No walking allowed! Your children are at risk!”), and day care centers (“We have cameras everywhere. Your children are at risk!”), and by the law (“No letting your kids wait in the car. Your children are at risk!”). In short, the fact that we can see Etan even with our eyes closed has allowed the fascism of fear to flourish.

Knowing how he died provides cold comfort. I’m also not sure there’s any way to make a murder “meaningful.” But it does make me want to take action. For the sake of the next 33 years’ of children, I want to help our culture regain  its perspective. We remember this tragedy more than a generation later precisely because things like this do not, thank God, happen all the time. We cannot raise our children as if they do. And we can’t organize our lives around avoiding random, rare, heartbreaking events. Lisa Belkin makes this point movingly in her Huffington Post piece today.

Let me repeat the words another writer sent here a few weeks back: Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.

Let’s not prevent it in Etan’s name anymore. – L.