Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wise Words After the Boston Marathon Attack

On Monday, April 15th, two explosions went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, resulting in fatalities and scores of injuries. The explosions came from two rudimentary bombs likely constructed from kitchen pressure cookers and metal debris, reports the Los Angeles Times. Authorities are seeking a man seen on video for questioning, although no arrests have been made at this time, reports CNN.

My thoughts are with those hurt by the explosions, many of whom sustained devastating injuries. My thoughts are with Boston, which will need strength and healing in the wake of this tragedy. Finally, I hope that authorities can quickly track down those responsible and hold them accountable before the law.

The progressive blogosphere has been busy documenting the far right's response to the tragedy, and I have included links to some of the more absurd or shocking responses below. This time, instead of cataloging Religious Right responses as I usually do, I'd prefer to highlight some wise words in the wake of the attack.

Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, speculations fly and whole groups are scapegoated, often before all the facts are available. As the far right speculates and simmers, calmer voices are urging Americans to remain mindful and wait for facts to emerge. Political Research Associates, a watchdog group that monitors the far right, released a statement with wise words. In an April 16th statement entitled "Resisting the Marathon of Fear",  PRA executive director Tarso Luis Ramon reminded readers that now is the time for "mourning and affirming our common humanity – in part, by challenging efforts to manipulate anger and suffering for cynical purposes." Ramos encouraged readers to approach the incident with level heads.
"Resist the rush to judgment. Responsibility for this horrible act has yet to be established. Early press accounts are often inaccurate. We are reminded of the immediate aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when “terrorism experts” were quick to suggest that foreign, Arab terrorists were likely behind the bombing. Of course, a U.S. citizen, Timothy McVeigh, was found to be responsible.

Challenge efforts to blame or demonize groups of people. The Tea Party Nation homepage declares, “It is a pretty safe bet right now that this attack was carried out by an Islamist.” Fox News contributor Erik Rush blames Muslims for the Boston Marathon bombings via his Twitter account. When challenged, he doubled down on his accusation: “Yes they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” Such demonization is no less dangerous for being predictable. We caution against blaming any group of people based on their faith, nationality, or ideology.

Beware attempts to expand police powers. Violent public attacks are often followed by appeals to cede our liberties to achieve greater security. Calls to enhance government surveillance of domestic groups with “extremist” ideas were widespread, strident, and bipartisan following the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, leading to passage of draconian national security laws. That mid-’90s legislation provided the basis for some of the most notorious domestic abuses of the George W. Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Panic rarely yields sound policy. ("
When acts of violence and cruelty take place, we must not forget the good people who help victims. Amidst the sorrow surrounding the bombing, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt has uplifting words. (Hat tip to Infidel753).
"But here's what I DO know. If [the perpetrator is] one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."
In the wake of the Boston bombing, we must remain vigilant, but also compassionate, reasonable, and level-headed.

For additional commentary on the far right and the Boston bombing, visit the following links.

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion: Cindy Jacobs Claims God Warned Her about Boston Attack

Religion Dispatches: Who Bombed the Boston Marathon?

Right Wing Watch: Beck: Muslims Responsible for Boston Bombing Because American Terrorists Always Target the Government

Media Matters: Pat Robertson On Boston Bombing: "Don't Talk To Me About 'Religion Of Peace,' No Way"

Infidel753: The Boston murders and the Nutty right

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