Atlantic City certainly has enough legitimate hurdles to jump in order for it to become the world-class resort destination it aspires to be. And some of those hurdles—like an aging and aesthetically unappealing building stock that gives AyCee a vibe more in line with Camden than Miami Beach—may ultimately prove to be insurmountable.
But it is difficult to quantify how unfair the latest media-delivered black eye is to the seaside gambling capital.
Monday’s brutal and random stabbing deaths of two Canadian women in the heart of midtown are being played nationwide (if not worldwide) as just another day in Hell East. A perfect example is the Daily News’ Tuesday front page, which is dominated by the headline, “TOURIST DEATH TRAP.”
This is simply unfair. There is absolutely nothing in this tragedy that identifies it as an only-an-AyCee event. The perpetrator of the heinous crimes, a 44-year-old Philadelphia woman who reportedly suffers from mental illness, could have committed them anywhere—from New York’s Times Square, to the Las Vegas Strip to our own City Hall courtyard. That she did so at Michigan and Pacific avenues in Atlantic City was simply a function of coincidence, random chance, or, if you are so inclined to believe, the fates.
But instead of the murders being accepted as just an inexplicable and horrific tragedy, they are being held up as two more indictments of a city that has become a punching bag for a cross-section of Americans including anti-gambling zealots and reporters and editors looking for an easy “hook.”
When the Columbine, Colo. high school attack occurred in 1998, nobody blamed the suburban town in which it transpired. And I haven’t heard anyone condemn Norway for the 2011 massacre of innocent young people by a right-wing fanatic. So why is Atlantic City deemed a co-conspirator in a random and unavoidable event?
It could have happened anywhere—and, in fact does, all the time: How often do we see or hear reports of a mentally unstable person committing acts of horrible violence in cities large and small? But only Atlantic City is forced to bear the blame.
And that is not just unfair. It’s also as insane as someone who would randomly stab to death two innocent women in broad daylight in the heart of a bustling resort town.