April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing: Some Thoughts

Photo:  News.com.au
Yesterday a couple of bombs (IEDs) went off at the Boston Marathon.  I had a cousin running in that race for the first time in her life, after years of training. She made it to about the 34 kilometer mark and was stopped and put into lockdown in a church with a bunch of other runners in her immediate area.  The response from local authorities was effective and well done from what I hear.  My cousin, after a lengthy lockdown opted to leave the church and continue running to the finish area where her family was near.  They were also safe and she knew they were.  But she wanted to run and she wanted to get back to her family.  Ultimately she was reunited with her husband and children and able to run a full marathon plus, somehow extra distance. I watched the unfolding events on CNN and Fox (as well as Twitter and Hot Air) and followed her husband's updates on Facebook.  As I watched it all, a number of thoughts occurred to me.

My first thought was about how brave my cousin was.  She has very poor vision and required a guide runner.  Nevertheless she was determined to finish and also get back to her family.  She left the church while it was still on semi-lockdown.  She was advised to not yet leave and that if she did to avoid garbage cans, and be careful.

My second thought was about liberty.  I'm not sure there are many countries, including my own (Canada) where she would be allowed to leave that church in those circumstances.  While the risks were still unknown it is amazing that a country exists where it would allow people to make those decisions on their own.  That in itself is something that as an American, you should be proud to have such individual freedom.  The government still does not have the power to protect you from yourself by taking away your right to make decisions.  It does so all the time in subtle ways, but the right has not erode to the point of no return.  Be thankful.

My third thought was sorrow for the injured and dead and their families.  In particular, the eight year old boy who died was most upsetting. My prayers are with his family. It was a s senseless and barbaric act of terrorism, aimed at innocents.  Those in the Middle East who take joy in such deaths are contemptible.  The actions of the United States in the Middle East do have collateral damage at times, but civilians are not deliberately targeted.  There is no equivalence between the two types of casualties,  None whatsoever.

My other thoughts were around an early youtube posting that included a suspicious man standing on a roof (see in the upper left corner). I assumed that someone who raised the issue in the comments section was being paranoid - it was a water tower or something.  It turns out, that it might be a lead.  At least some people thinks so.  I'm still skeptical. I was even skeptical that the original person of interest was the right suspect.

My final thoughts (after being assured that my cousin was safe) drifted to the political. Being skeptical at least initially is probably healthy.  That is also true for the president.  Although the president himself declined to call it an act of terrorism, the FBI, Homeland Security and later the White House were less reticent to do so.  My initial reaction towards the president's response was anger.  I thought back on Benghazi and the Fort Hood massacre, and his non-involvement in Syria and also Iran's brutally squashed Green Revolution and my assumption was that the president was putting his personal politics of success against terrorism before the reality of what was happening.  But on reflection, I think it was a fair thing to do.  Jumping to conclusions is a bad idea, particularly in cases like this.  President Bush did not invade Afghanistan  on September 12th, 2001. I think the president was right to be restrained in his wording.  Facts are required before action.  But that doesn't explain his dispassion about the situation.  Nor does it explain how some on the left*, the president apparently included, want to blame this on right wing conspiracies (despite some evidence to the contrary) or use it as a prop to argue against sensible budget cuts.

This is a tragedy pure and simple. To try to fit it to a political viewpoint is in poor taste.

*Here is one egregious example from Michael Moore.

Followed later by a post about tax day and Patriot's day and then this today:

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