A major local newspaper last week compared the lack of security in Geneva to the Bronx. I was offended. I was raised in the Bronx and have never understood why the Swiss Romand use the Bronx as a synonym for violence and chaos, although I continually have sought the origins of this tradition.
The Bronx - I will give some information here since I assume that even those who have visited New York City have skipped the Bronx - is one of five boroughs of NYC. Its size is 109 square kilometers and the 2010 census puts its population at 1. 3 million people. We are not talking about Carouge here. Although the Bronx is one of the most densely populated areas in the United States, about one quarter of its space is open areas. I grew up next to Van Cordlandt Park, 4.6 square kilometers, which has a large lake, sports stadium, two public golf courses, riding stables, and a famous cross-country track. In addition, my neighborhood was boarded by a large reservoir surrounded by 3 kilometers of stone walls. West of Van Cortlandt Park is the very chick neighborhood of Riverdale, which contains many stately mansions with tennis courts and swimming pools as well as the prestigious Horace Mann, Riverdale and Fieldston private schools. The Bronx also has the elite public Bronx High School of Science as well as several universities. The house of the famous poet Edgar Allan Poe is in the Bronx as well as the stadium of my beloved New York Yankees baseball team.
It is true that not all of the Bronx is peace and love. References to the Bronx Zoo are not always positive and do not always refer to animals in cages. From 1968 to 1969 I taught in a junior high school in the South Bronx. On my way to my first day at the office, I passed a man sitting on the sidewalk with a rifle in his hand. People passed him going to work as if nothing was unusual. I stopped to watch. Across the street from where he was sitting was a sewer opening to drain runoff water. From time to time, rats would run out of the sewer and he would shoot them. No one seemed surprised or upset at what I soon learned was a daily occurrence. And indeed, the South Bronx was, at the time and still to some extent, like a city bombed out after a war. There was a movie made entitled "The Bronx is burning," and a novel and movie were made about the famous 41st police station in the South Bronx nicknamed Fort Apache. Tom Wolfe immortalized the South Bronx in The Bonfire of the Vanities.
In short, I would not object if the headlines screamed "Geneva has become the South Bronx". But, please, be able to distinguish and specify. After all, not all Geneva is like my Carouge!