The Uncertainty Surrounding Boston Compounds the Fear
This an excellent opinion piece IMO, even though its brutal honesty made me wince. The author, James Varney, is confronting his darkest fears about the possible identity of the perpetrators of the Boston bombings head-on, not to mention questioning the morality of hoping for the outcome he would feel most comfortable with. That’s not something you see people do very often, at least not publicly.
What made me wince was not so much that he would prefer that the perpetrators be foreign jihadists, but that he seems to be viewing things in a binary “us vs them” fashion. I think more people than care to admit probably feel the same way he does.
How will he process things if it turns out to be one or more American Muslims, especially if they’re American born or raised? Would they be part of his “us” or are part of “them”? And what about all the peaceful, patriotic, law-abiding American Muslims? Would we be part of his “us”, or would we be lumped in with “them” as we were by so many after 9/11 (and still are by more than a few)?
The uncertainty compounds our fears too, Mr. Varney, just in a different way.
After 9/11 we had an enemy who, if not quickly cornered and killed, was at least quickly identified. There is a unity of purpose, a shared understanding of the threat in such situations that makes what happened not so much easier to bear as easier to confront. […]
Am I the only one hoping it’s jihadists? Is it even right to have such a hope in the face of something so awful? Is it morally suspect to take a deep breath, thank God fewer people were killed than Interstate 12 crashes claim on many weekends, and pray the low body count signals our mortal global enemies have lost some of the unholy talent they displayed in New York, Madrid and London? […]
In Oklahoma City in the days after the bombing there was a palpable disquiet. The city’s downtown was eerily silent but for the chakka-chakka-chakka of heavy-duty excavation equipment, and people wrestled with the news reports about Tim McVeigh and our homicidal parasites. No one knew what to make of what had occurred, but the fact the perpetrators were Americans was somehow unfathomable. […]
I wasn’t in New York City on 9/11 where the gloom was proportionately much larger. That’s a difference of scale, although, at root, it’s the same. There was also on that day, in Manhattan and everywhere else, a realization that a war was at hand; that such cataclysmic terrorism on home soil was the culmination of a chain that included African embassy bombings, Navy ship bombings and even an earlier, much less harrowing World Trade Center bombing.
In other words, there was a connection. There was a ripple that went through every American that someone else was attacking us. It was a Pearl Harbor-type moment. […]