Saturday, November 4th was a perfect day for a festival. The sky was clear and blue; the sun shone brightly; the temperature hovered around 80. The event, a gelato festival in the Tucson foothills, was the perfect curtain for a too-hot, too-long summer. Dozens of people representing several generations wandered about, happily sampling gelato in small cones and cups. A few well-behaved dogs mingled with the two-legged set. Then, a dark phrase crossed my mind like a cloud blocking the sun, an innocent sounding two-word phrase that summarizes America’s Original Sin and the stain it leaves on us all: soft target.
The phrase “soft target” is generally defined as “a person or thing that is relatively unprotected or vulnerable, especially to military or terrorist attack.” Examples of soft targets include “national monuments, hospitals, schools, sporting arenas, hotels, cultural centers, movie theaters, cafés and restaurants, places of worship, nightclubs, shopping centers, (and) transportation sites,” according to Wikipedia – basically, “civilian sites where people congregate in large numbers.” Like a gelato festival.