Event Moved From Washington Hilton Due to Security Concerns: Wrong Move?

 am currently at the Washington Hilton, which is the site where an annual event in celebration of New Year’s Eve called The “Downtown Countdown” was scheduled to occur — complete with a live band and an open bar for hundreds of attendees — but instead is being moved to Philadelphia from the Washington Hilton due to security concerns this year with recent world events cited as the reason for the change in venue.

According to this article written by Tom Fitzgerald and the staff of WTTG-TV Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C., “ticketholders received emails from the promoter, Lindy Promotions and Joonbug Events, that the event was being canceled because the hotel considers itself a ‘soft target’ in light of terrorism concerns in D.C. and New York.”

The hotel property has hosted presidents and world leaders in its storied history; and it was the site of the attempted assassination on Monday, March 30, 1981 of Ronald Reagan — who was president of the United States at the time — by John Hinckley, Jr., who was only approximately ten feet away from Reagan when he shot him with a .22 revolver loaded with exploding bullets.

Washington Hilton Reagan

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Washington Hilton Reagan Plaque

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Increased security measures have been implemented all over the world as a result of the deadly terror attacks last month — including ones in Paris and Beirut.

Event Moved From Washington Hilton Due to Security Concerns

Although statements from the aforementioned article include “They answered the phone shockingly and they were very forthright and said the Hilton felt uncomfortable with the gathering of so many people due to ISIS threats” and “The hotel let us know recently that they consider themselves a soft target due to recent threats on New York and D.C. With these concerns we wanted to increase security measures but the amount in which the hotel demanded we increase it by made the event”, I personally spoke to some of the key staff at the hotel earlier today who suggested that it was the decision of the organizers of the event to move it to a different venue in Philadelphia; and that perhaps the event will return to the Washington Hilton next year.

An official statement released from the Washington Hilton to WTTG-TV Fox 5 News seems to confirm that sentiment:

“Unfortunately, the organizers have decided to move this venue to another location. We wish them continued success.”

Are People Overreacting and Being Too Cautious?

Quite a bit of attention has been paid recently to terrorist activities as of late — from both the media and from government warnings.

I happen to agree with Alexander Bachuwa of The Points of Life — who recently visited Sharm el-Sheikh despite wondering if it was irresponsible to travel there — that the official worldwide travel alert issued from the State Department of the United States is not helpful at all. In fact, I would argue that all it does is help the terrorists to perpetuate the fear they initially initiated.

“I vary between thinking we’re being overcautious, and holding my breath in fear”, Kathy Kass of Will Run For Miles wrote in this article pertaining to the aforementioned travel alert. “In many ways, the warnings and advisories in this newest Alert do not sound that different from the day to day caution one should exercise when traveling abroad. What are your thoughts?”

My thoughts are that people are being overly cautious — as illustrated by the moving of the aforementioned event to a different venue in a different city solely as a result of concern or fear — and are overreacting; and we need to put a stop to that right now. That is exactly what the terrorists want: for us to fear them to the point that we alter our normal lives as a result. It is one thing to be cautious and implement sound policies and procedures for more intelligent security to protect people; but it is another thing to let that fear get the best of us and out of control.

Remain Aware and Alert — But Not Fearful

“You’ve visited a lot of places,” one person supposedly said to Seth Miller of Wandering Aramean. “And I’d like to do that, too,” he continued. “But aren’t you scared?”

Seth Miller replied, “Yes, I’m a bit scared every time I take a trip. All the more reason to do it.” Amen…

…and although he was not discussing terrorism, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and be alert — no matter where you go. You are far more likely to be robbed or involved in a car accident than you are becoming a victim of a terror attack.

Is Now the Time to Visit Affected Areas?

Pertaining to the attacks which occurred on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I wrote the following statement:

All I wanted to do that day was find the tallest building and get to the top of it; or fly as a passenger on an airplane. I wanted to shout to the adversaries that if they wanted a war, bring it on, for they will be sorry. I wanted to show those low-life terrorists that they don’t scare me; that our country will only be stronger; and that the United States will be better than ever despite their attempts to destroy it.

I feel the same way now as I did then. Prices of hotel room rates in Sharm el-Sheikh are quite low right now; and I would not hesitate for a second to go there — or to Paris or Beirut, for that matter. Similar to when the stock market suffers losses and causes people to be hesitant about risking their money by either not purchasing shares of stocks or withdrawing their money from the market — which has been repeatedly proven to be the wrong strategy, as investing money during that time is usually the smarter thing to do despite how counterintuitive it may sound — traveling to places which have been subjected to isolated terror attacks is usually not a bad idea. Visitors help to support the local economy and the affected region return to some semblance of normalcy — and security is usually tightened in those areas, ironically ensuring greater safety than before the attacks occurred.

“All of Egypt is unsafe”, posted FlyerTalk member iflyjetz. “There was a bombing in Cairo this morning. There were suicide bombers in Luxor in June. As a westerner, you are a target – not only of radical Islamists but also every con man in the country.”

I completely disagree with that statement, which I consider an example of fear which can be considered irrational. I never felt like I was in danger in Egypt; and I even give six reasons as to why you should consider visiting Egypt now — just do not drive a vehicle there.

Summary

I personally would have kept the event at the Washington Hilton hotel. I feel perfectly safe here as I am writing this from my room at the hotel; and I have witnessed large events occur with no security issues. Aside from the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, it has safely been the site of numerous dignitaries for countless events since the hotel was built in 1965 — and it has its own security force.

We cannot keep running away or fearing the terrorists. A comprehensive explanation of what should be done to help mitigate or eradicate terrorist activities will be written for a future article.

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Event Moved From Washington Hilton Due to Security Concerns: Wrong Move?”

  1. Alexander says:

    So much truth in this post. At this point, everything is a soft target but what happened to being reasonable. As my torts professor said, we don’t drive tanks on the highway even though they are far safer than cars.

    I too take issue with the claim that all of Egypt is unsafe because the facts don’t support it. The bombing of the nightclub in Cairo was an isolated event among people who had their own dispute. The world will always have people looking to commit evil. Just because it happens in the Middle East doesn’t make it terrorism. The attempted attack in Luxor was thwarted by the police that maintain a heavy presence in the area. The bombing of the plane over Sharm el-Sheikh was terrorism but even that term is used too loosely and is too empowering to those that seek to cause harm.

    There is a strategy to guard against terrorism and it shouldn’t include moving an event that I’ve never heard of from Washington to Philly, the #5 highest city for murders.

    And after visiting Egypt, I can’t believe you drove there. Place is nuts.

  2. Stephen A. says:

    From 2004 to 2014, 303 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks worldwide, according to State Department reports. During that same time frame, 320,523 Americans were killed because of gun violence. In other words, you are more than 1,000 times likely to die by gun fire (not related to terrorism) in the U.S.) than you are by a terrorist act overseas. If you throw in U.S. auto deaths you are more than 2,000 times likely to die in the U.S. from these causes than from an overseas terrorist attack..People should really put things in perspective. Be careful, but don’t give in to groundless fears

  3. Mark F. says:

    To be fair, and reading between the lines here, it seems money was the real issue. It appears that Hilton was willing to host the event (according to the article) but the organizers weren’t comfortable with the extra precautions that they were going to put in place (whatever those might have been). Sounds like the disagreement wasn’t even extra security measures, but the costs or ‘extent’ of those security measures.

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