Next Day’s Reacton to Boston Marathon Bombings

By Grant Bosse on April 16, 2013
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Boston Marathon Finish LineMy first thought was “Not again.” Then horror. Then anger. Then sadness.

I simply don’t understand the nature of evil. This happened because someone wanted it to happen this way. They are surely disappointed that several other bombs did not explode, and that more people didn’t die. I can understand violence that stems from anger, revenge, or greed. I can’t understand thinking that bombing children watching their parents finish the Boston Marathon will forward any political agenda.

Then I felt guilty because I haven’t given blood in a while. I used to help out at our high school blood drives even before I was old enough to donate, and the radio station where I worked in Lebanon for three years hosted one each year. I gave regularly in college, and when I was working on Capitol Hill, places conducive to a spare hour in the middle of the day.

But I got out of the habit. I live less than three miles from the Manchester Blood Donation Center. I have an appointment for Thursday to give double red blood cells.

I didn’t see the President’s address last night. But my Twitter feed soon contained lots of complaints that he didn’t refer to the bombings as terrorism. It was early, and we still don’t know who did this, but terrorism is a strategy, not an ideology. Regardless of the motives of the terrorists, this was an act of terrorism, and I always support calling things what they are.

However, I am neither the President of the United States nor a White House speech writer. This particular debate over vocabulary is remarkably low on the list of priorities right now. I simply don’t care that the President did not choose the same words I would have chosen.

More cynically, picking a political fight on such shaky ground is self-defeating. Most people would rightfully resent such nit-picking at a time when we want to come together in grief and resolve. I’ve been a critic of the Obama Administration’s response to terrorism, and think the response to the Benghazi attacks was inept. But now is not the time to engage in that particular debate. Even if it were, seeking narrow political advantage is both silly and counter-productive.

This minor social media kerfuffle then reminded me to expect much, much worse very soon. It’s sad that we can reliably predict the insane and disgusting attempts to cash in on a national spotlight following such a deadly attack. I knew we were going to hear wacky conspiracy theories about how this was an inside job or a setup, and within hours the usual trolls were claiming photos were doctored and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was peddling the first draft of trutherism about bomb drills the finish line. Chris Matthews speculated about right-wing domestic terrorism. The Westborough Baptist Church announced plans to protest funerals that haven’t been planned. I never question the wisdom of the First Amendment, but last night I sure had to acknowledge the downside.

What unites us is so much broader and more important than what divides us. I know how easy it is to see new and shocking events as evidence of our pre-existing beliefs. I understand the temptation to run to our comfortable and defended political positions, and to fight back when our opponents recklessly try to take advantage of the nation’s grief and anger.

Debate and disagreement strengthen us. But their is more to life than politics. Take a breath. Hug your family. Give to a charity. And renew your determination that terrorism will not weaken us. We will not let attacks on the innocent erode our belief in a free society. We will find who did this, and bring them to whatever justice exists on earth. Will pray for the dead, the wounded, their families, and all those who rushed to help amid the chaos.

For Boston.

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