My Take as a Bostonian on the Marathon Bombings

Boston, MAI live in Boston, but am not afraid.  Yes, I have heeded the Governor’s advice to stay inside today, but not out of fear.  I am a little annoyed, actually, that the media has proclaimed Boston is in a state of lockdown.  We are not locked down.  People are free to move around if they wish and have been doing so freely all day.  No one has been detained for venturing out.  Golfers near my house were free to play 18 holes today and let me assure you that many did.  Call the recommendation to stay inside want you want, except Marshall law; I just call it common sense.  I am not going to prowl around looking for the bomber or insert myself into the investigation.  I’m not going out to take Instagram photos of the riot tanks in Watertown.

Another annoying aspect of the media coverage is just how many things “journalists” have gotten wrong. The New York Post identified and published a photo of the wrong guy as one of the bombers.  Second, in a rush to get the breaking news scoop, media outlets reported that the suspects were dark-skinned, then White, all before the official video and still photos had been released by the FBI.  Third, reports circulated that the two were brothers of 19 and 21 years of age; the oldest suspect that authorities killed in a gunfight turned out to be 26.  Fourth, the media has repeatedly reported with certainty that the brothers are refugees from Chechnya; they are, at least, according to one of the uncles, from Kyrgyzstan, though another uncle seemed to confirm their Chechen ethnicity.  Fifth, various reports stated the two had been in the country for just 2 years, when in fact, if we can trust the facts, they came in 2001 and had been living legally as refugees in the country for 12 years; the youngest suspect even became a U.S. citizen on 9/11/2012, of all dates. Not that all the discrepancies will make a big difference in the outcome of the case, but it does raise some concerns about the integrity of the information we receive in the age of the continuous 24 hour news cycle.  And while the 19 year old suspect has yet to be tried and convicted of anything, there seems to be little doubt as to his guilt with all the eye witness surveillance video.  And I hope he is captured alive so that authorities can learn as much information as possible about motives, associations and other threats before he is prosecuted.

But mostly, I am angry that terrorists have been living among us. I am angry that they committed an act cowardice against innocent people at the Boston Marathon. There is nothing, nothing at all that can justify the calculated killing of innocent people.  These terrorists murdered three and maimed hundreds with a dirty bomb.  They carjacked a civilian at gunpoint,  wounded an MBTA official, killed an MIT police officer and got into a firefight with police officers.

What would compel one to commit such heinous crimes?  One plausible and admittedly unsubstantiated theory (and one that is not so original) is that the oldest brother, who authorities killed in the shootout, had gone abroad, received training with a terrorist group, become radicalized, made or obtained some bombs and organized the attack with his brother.  It seems doubtful that they were lone wolves who snapped.

Whatever the case turns out to be, it is clear that any War on Terror cannot be a conventional war fought by countries, as the failed Bush years proved.  The War on Terror cannot be a battle of competing religions.  No, the best way to fight terrorism is to be vigilant, but reasonable; to seek justice, not revenge; and to refuse to be terrorized.  The American ideals of democratic governance with an emphasis on individual rights, freedom of religion, tolerance, community, and the peaceful pursuit of happiness is a package that cannot be destroyed by a terrorist attack.

And one more thing:  Americans, let’s not forget that we are all immigrants.  We must denounce all acts of violence and terrorism, but be tolerant and supportive of peaceful, hard-working, newer immigrants who reside among us and cordial and welcoming to international tourists and students visiting from foreign lands no matter observed differences in dress, accent, appearance, religious or political affiliations.  I am certain that my great city of Boston and one of my favorite cities, New York City, will always be welcoming and hope that other U.S. cities will be too.

Finally, and importantly, let us never forget the 3 Boston Marathon bombing victims and the 176 wounded and their families and the slain and injured officers.  Boston will never forget and has set up The One Fund to assist impacted families.  Rest assured that the bomber will be brought to justice.

Postscript:  Authorities apprehended the surviving suspect who had been hiding in a boat.  He was taken alive and transported to a local hospital.  The mayor tweeted “we got him”.  What a relief! Cudos to the coordinated efforts of the Boston Police, the MA State Police, the FBI, The AFT, Mayor Menino, and Governor Patrick all of whom conducted themselves professionally and with extreme concern for public safety.  Thank you!