If there are any ironclad rules for those hoping to survive the collapse of society, one would surely be to avoid densely populated cities, especially if they’re easily cut-off from the mainland via a handful of bridges or tunnels. The second, after this week, would be to avoid the survival advice of the New York Times, a newspaper published in just such a city, and one easily cut-off from the common sense of the more down-to-earth parts of America. On Sunday, the Times published an article on “How to Survive the Apocalypse.” In its cosmopolitan view, New York City’s strict gun control should survive even the end of the world.
It may well be that the article was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. Particularly with the New York Times, it’s increasingly difficult to separate satire from journalism. This is especially so, given that the mainstream media uses both genres solely to attack their political enemies and to push their political agenda. Whatever the case, the newspaper devoted considerable space to the survival topic, demonstrating both breadth and detail in its ignorance.
The article is aimed – by its own admission – at the “swelling class of weekend paranoiacs of affluent means.” This is the sort of person, the article continues, who is “stashing a well-stocked ‘bug-out bag’ alongside his Louis Vuitton luggage in a Range Rover pointed toward Litchfield County, Conn.”
The first priority, according to the Times, is the anti-anxiety drug, Xanax. The author seems to assume that most of his readers will already have this on hand. He also suggests hoarding cigarettes and miniature bottles of liquor to use as an alternative form of currency. You may need to barter for a socket wrench, he reasons, although he doesn’t explain why simply packing such a tool in the first place wouldn’t be a better option than packing post-apocalyptic currency to pay for it.
About halfway through the article, the author finally broaches the subject of arms. The author swiftly reminds his readers that “possession of the most fundamental survivalist self-defense staple — the gun — is highly restricted by law in New York,” an odd observation for the type of “Mad Max scenario” he claims to be envisioning. Better options for the law-abiding survivalist, he suggests, are things like a “collapsible umbrella lined with wrenches,” heavy tools like hammers and hatchets, and even the old Charles Bronson standby, a roll of silver quarters.
The article goes on to discuss even more fanciful topics, including $250,000 jetpacks and a company that promises to send its clients’ DNA into space, where “some ultra-intelligent alien being may discover it in the future, and use [their] genetic code to reanimate a race of humans on a distant planet.”
It’s easy to chuckle at the intentional or unintentional folly of the advice the Times article presents, but what’s not so funny is that the prohibitive gun control laws it mentions are a very real liability to law-abiding New York residents in the here-and-now, not just in the event of an apocalyptic future. Wishful or magical thinking is not a good advice for surviving any crisis, and life-and-death situations can unfortunately arise even in a relatively well-functioning civilization.
While it won’t solve every possible problem, a simple .38 special revolver or 9mm pistol – the sort of handguns New York City’s onerous regulations place beyond the reach of many law-abiding residents – is a far better option than improvising weapons from umbrellas. And if upstanding New Yorkers had better access to the means of real self-protection, maybe they’d have less need of their Xanax.