Saturday, April 20, 2013

After Boston: no one is living in fear

Now that the second suspect--Dzhokhar Tsarnaev--in the Boston Marathon bombings has been apprehended, now that the city of Boston can return to some semblance of normality with no more city-wide lockdowns an no more 24-7 siren blasting, we can take stock of the events on April 15th.

There are more than enough articles and cable news specials out there detailing the events in Boston from start to finish; I'm not going to spend much time rehashing them. People know what went down, they've seen footage of the blasts, of police and FBI agents rushing through Boston neighborhoods, and of Dzhokhar's last hiding place. And people know the basics about the two brothers who were behind the bombing (allegedly, of course): they were born in foreign lands, they have Chechen backgrounds, they're Islamists, and--somewhere along the way--they became unhappy with America and/or the West.

I'm sure more details, possibly even specific reasons for the bombing, will emerge in the coming weeks, but in the meantime life must go on. And frankly, it already is going on.

After 9-11, life had to go on as well. And once again, it did. There was a lot more to do and to think about then. After all, as awful as the events a few days ago were, they cannot be compared to those on September 11th, 2001. True, two homemade bombs in trashcans at a large event did a lot of damage, innocent people were killed, maimed, and injured. And the nation as a whole reached out to Boston with both sympathy and anger, just as it should have. But it still wasn't a case of airliners being turned into guided missiles by hijackers, of the destruction of two of the world's largest buildings in the financial heart of the nation, of an attack on the military's headquarters in the nation's capital, of murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people and injuring twice that number.

I'm not trying to minimize what happened in Boston at all; I mention the details of 9-11 in order to make a point: as awful as 9-11 was, the nation survived. It carried on. People were rightly concerned and horrified over the attacks, but even those directly affected did what we all had to do:  picked up the pieces and got on with life (which of course does not mean forgetting about what happened). And this will happen again, with regard to the Boston attacks. We will not forget, but we will also not stop living. We cannot, we must not.

Many reading this might now be saying to themselves "well, duh." Indeed, that is exactly what I'm saying to myself. I've offered nothing deeply profound here, nothing we all don't already know.

Enter Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast who devotes an entire column to this kind of blather:
Well, we’re not immune anymore. We’ve joined the rest of the world, the bloodied and sundered world that has lived with terrorism for decades. A little perspective: the Boston attack was the fourth-worst terrorist attack of the week around the world. And that was only by Wednesday.

What does all this mean we should and should not do? We should be mad, we should be sad, we should mourn, we should go through all the rituals that help people through such tragedies. But we shouldn’t freak out or wallow in fear or self-pity.
Of course it's not enough for Mr. Tomasky to lecture us on what we should and shouldn't do, he also needs to work in a little dig about our lack of "prespective." Shameless.

Maybe some think I'm being too hard on Mr. Tomasky, but consider this: after the tragedy in Newtown, Mr. Tomasky wrote the following:
We are living in an era of slaughter. I admit to having thrown up my own hands against the NRA, arguing that they have too much power and it wasn't worth the risk to take them on. I'm done with that. We're living in a fucking abbatoir, now drenched in the blood of little children. We have to do something.
Where's the perspective there? Wholly absent. Instead, Tomasky's reaction to the Newtown shootings was to FREAK OUT AND WALLOW IN FEAR AND SELF-PITY.

And this is of course not to make light of the Newtown shootings in the least. It was an horrific thing. And it struck me, personally, as hard if not harder than 9-11, given the ages of the victims. But apparently in Tomasky-land, there's nothing to be done for terrorist attacks, aside from accepting them as a fact of life and moving on. We've got it easy compared to the rest of the world. A lone psycho with a gun? That's different. Somehow, his existence and actions are a reflection of society as a whole, therefore requiring drastic action to correct society as a whole (Tomasky has a large number of anti-gun articles, following the Newtown one).

And make no mistake, Tomasky is not alone on this. His mindset is shared by many other people in the mainstream media, by many Democrats in power, and by the current administration: "gun violence is a big problem and needs big solutions, terrorism is very bad but it's just going to happen."

Well, I disagree. And I refuse to live in fear, as do the vast numbers of people in this country who support an unfettered right to keep and to bear arms.

Cheers, all.

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