Apr 17 2013

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Ordinary Citizens. Extraordinary Actions...

Ordinary Citizens. Extraordinary Actions…

As of this writing, it has been 42 hours since the terrorist attack in Boston.

And we still don’t know.

We don’t know who did it.  We don’t know why they did it. We don’t know if it was a citizen with a beef, acting alone.  We don’t know if it was an international terrorist network, executing a long-planned strategy.  We don’t know if it was a combination of the two – a home- grown Al Qaeda, with its own command, agenda and operational plan.

But that hasn’t stopped the immediate rush to conclusions without a shred of evidence. It hasn’t stopped people who should know better from linking a national tragedy to pet political causes before the dead have even been properly buried.

And that is a disgrace.

Chris Matthews, who has become a cartoon caricature of the left-wing obsession with race and Republicans almost immediately made connections between the Boston bombing and Tax Day, about “home-grown” extremists and speculating that the perps may have been of the “far right” persuasion.

Luke Russert, the empty suit who so blatantly trades on his father’s name to advance his mediocrity, tweeted about a possible connection between the Boston bombing and the Waco Raid in 1993.

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney stood in for the government conspiracy crowd, connecting the bombing with the (coincidental?) controlled explosions drill held by Boston police on the same day.

Conservative columnist Eric Rush fingered the Saudis, tweeting, without any apparent evidence, that the US needs to crack down on Saudi nationals in this country.

And there were the tasteless political agenda seekers.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof found a novel, if tortured way to blame Republicans for the explosions, tweeting, “Boston explosion reminder ATF (bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) needs director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking appointment.”

But for sheer chutzpah, former congressman Barney Frank takes the cake. Asked about his reaction in the immediate hours after the bombing, Frank said:

In this terrible situation, let’s be very grateful we had a well-funded, functioning government. It is very fashionable in America, has been for some time, to criticize government, belittle public employees, talk about their pensions, talk about what people think is their assessment of health care. Here we saw government in two ways perform very well. First of all, the city government in charge moved efficiently and rapidly and bravely.

Secondly, there has been seamless cooperation as you have shown on the program. You don’t know when it’s state, and when it’s federal, and when it’s the city. The police commissioner on the screen, with the head of the FBI in Boston and the Governor and that also goes to the recovery. Again, I never was as a member of Congress one of the cheerleaders for less government, lower taxes. No tax cut would have helped us deal with this or will help us recover. This is very expensive. At a time like this, no one thinks about saving pennies.”

Maybe a word about the victims might have made this shameless political tirade, answering a question(s) that was never asked, more palatable.

As with Newtown, the lesson is to take this down a notch.

Let us heal the wounded, mourn the dead and find the perpetrators, and bring them to justice.

Instead of constant, macabre stories about severed limbs strewn about, let’s recognize that even before our dedicated first responders got to the scene, volunteers and average citizens were our first responders. These average citizens stepped in, using whatever materials were available, to create make-shift tourniquets for the greviously wounded. Hospital officials in Boston have stated that the immediate efforts of so many to provide improvised first aid kept the death toll from climbing higher.

Some of these people ran back into the direction of the explosion to help. Their stories are inspiring.

After the blast, blood donations were so plentiful that they exceeded the capacity of Boston area blood banks. Instead, hospitals started donor lists to replenish blood supplies as individual blood types ran low. Average citizens opened their homes to strangers, marathon runners who could not get out of Boston and had no place to stay – or family members/friends who came to see the race.

There was no official plan for this. For runners to become first aid providers. For citizens to open their homes and hearts with whatever they had to give, to help in any way, large or small. But this is what Americans do.

Living in a country as open and free as ours inherently exposes us to the dangers of terrorism.  But such a society produces the kind of citizens that were the best reflections of ourselves in Boston on Tuesday; compassionate, generous, courageous.

We have seen this all before, time and again.  After Oklahoma City. After 9-11. After the twister that leveled Joplin, MO. After Superstorm Sandy.  Average Americans doing what Americans do best; help one another in crisis.

A terrible event has again proven the false security that we take for granted, shattering our collective sense of safety.  But a free people have again risen to the occasion.

More than a decade after 9-11, our police and firefighters responded rapidly and efficiently. The national architecture of our anti-terror apparatus sprang into motion, gathering evidence, chasing down leads and raising security for other , potentially vulnerable venues.

Our digital world has made it possible to give random thoughts a mass audience. But the advances of technology and the demands of the news cycle do not free us to pursue our most banal impulses in pursuit of ratings or popularity.

Take it down a notch.

We will find who did this and why. President Obama said it, and we have the best facilities and people in the world to figure it out. There will be abundant time then to discuss the political implications of the attack, once we understand it, and to take whatever corrective policy action to ensure our safety.

For now, let us honor the fallen, heal the injured and celebrate people – volunteers and first responders alike – who represent the very best of our national character.

Personally, in the aftermath of the bombing, I have this message for Beantown: this dyed-in-pinstripes Yankee fan stands shoulder to shoulder with Red Sox Nation. America does too.




  1. Steven Baum

    What are your thoughts on this comment.
    Arkansas state Rep. Nate Bell, “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?”

    1. duffysoa

      I think the comment speaks to an obscured truth in the gun control debate, often mocked by gun control supporters – that is posession of firearms for home defense. The normal retort from critics is, “when is that ever really going to happen.” Well, it happened for a million people in Boston. It was one of those rare occasions when a call to law enforcement might not have been quick enough to prevent death or injury if the perps had tried to break into a home. The AR-15 example in the quote may be extreme, but I do believe that a number of people in Boston probably wished they had a firearm to protect themselves and their families. I will be curious to see what happens to firearms permit applications in Boston in the aftermath of the attacks.

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