Tag Archives: Terrorism

Bombs Nationalize Patriots’ Day

The Boston Marathon, begun in 1897 with 18 contestants, is the world’s oldest annual marathon and likely the most prestigious.  These days about 500,000 people come to watch between 20,000 and 35,000 contestants each year.  The race starts at noon on the third Monday of April, which is Patriots’ Day.

Patriots’ Day is an obscure Massachusetts holiday.  No one else knows about it or cares  much (Maine celebrates it too as they used to be part of Massachusetts, and a few people in Wisconsin and Florida take a day off I think), and it is mainly an excuse to get hammered (source).  Officially, it celebrates the the battles of Lexington and Concord, which happened 238 years ago.  In these battles 49 Americans and 73 British were killed.  It was the first (minor skirmish really) of the American Revolutionary War.  It is, essentially, a local holiday and unknown.

So why the hell was the Boston Marathon targeted?  It’s a marathon!  This is people at their best.  People are running, disciplining themselves, losing weight, building relationships, etc.  Moreover, runners start between 10am and 10:40am, and the bombs went off at 3pm.  Everyone who is a super good runner would be done by then.  If you started at 10:30am and ran 9 minute miles, you would finish around 2:25PM.  The top runners are starting to finish at 12:15.  These people are the fast ones who are kicking ass and taking names—the professionals some might say.  So these bombs targeted the slower ones, the 10,000 or so who did not cross, I read in one report, were dads and moms and their families who showed up to cheer them on. They never got to finish.   This runner was knocked down yards away from the finish line, and he is 78 years old.  Kudos.  I wish I am in that great of shape when I am 78.  My apologies for running 26.19 miles and not being able to finish.

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The bombs, it seems, were made to hurt people; they were packed with nails and shrapnel to do maximal damage to soft tissue.  CNN says 176 people were injured, and so far 3 are dead, about a dozen or so remain critical.  Among those killed was 8-year old Martin Richard, who came to cheer on his Dad at the finish line who had yet to cross.  His mother and sister are seriously injured.  Pray for them.

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So, did I miss something?  Is jogging ruining the world?  Are families cheering on non-professionals crossing the finish-line a threat to anyone?  Is Patriots’ Day a symbol of American greed and exploitation?  Is it a recognizable symbol?  No.

9/11 was different.  Obviously it had more death and destruction, but at least the target  made some tenous degree of sense.  I do not want to overstate here (and of course am not endorsing it by any means), but it seems that anyone who knows anything about how multi-national corporations function around the world can understand some anger towards the capitalist system and the symbols of that system, such as the twin towers.  Also, people who worked in these towers might be presumably (from the terrorists’ perspective) part of the system.  Finally, targeting the World Trade Center did not imply targeting children explicitly.

The Boston Marathon attack, however, is an attack on baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie.  It is an attack on American-ness, or even worse, an attack on Americans living out healthy lifestyles.  Supportive families, including children, were targeted.  This, much more than 9/11, gives some degree of credence to the bizarre phrase, “they hate us for our freedom.”

So I do not know what to make of this.  I am distraught, angry, and if this is international terrorism, then it seems like an idiotic target.

Obviously, I know nothing.  I do know, however, that this is exactly the wrong way to fight America.  Historically, Americans will leave you alone if you leave them to baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie.  We are isolationists at heart.  Even if we currently have a far flung system of military bases, we do not like it, came to it reluctantly, and we will tire of it if you stop bothering us (or invading Poland).

But this is not the way to make us tire.  This unites us and gives us energy.  My prediction: about 200 million Americans will be joining Massachusetts in celebrating Patriots’ Day next year on Monday April 21, 2014.

Mark your calendars.  I’m ordering kegs of Sam Adams Boston Lager now.  Go Paul Revere!  Go America!  U-S-A!

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Assassination Rocks!

Most of the world is celebrating Osama bin Laden‘s death.  Some, however, are recoiling from that celebration and mourning the loss of life.  Both groups annoy me, but only if both groups are as single dimensional as my single dimensional description of them.

On the one hand, bringing an end to bin Laden’s exploits is a wonderful thing.  He killed lots of people and would kill more.  It also is a good morale booster and makes the West look and feel less incompetent and idiotic (“Seriously?  This guy walked free for almost 10 years after masterminding the single biggest terrorist attack in world history against the most powerful country in the world?”).  I am happy that we have ended this rallying symbol for Islamic fundamentalism.  However, I regret that we could not have had a trial for him as I think that would have been cathartic for society.  Trials are what separates societal civil justice from street gang vigilantism, and, since street gang vigilantism is no doubt a major goal and modus operandi of Islamic terrorist organizations, it’s too bad we couldn’t nab Osama and be rub-it-in-your-face civil to him.  But assassination is better than nothing.

On the other hand, assassination celebrations are weird things.  As a Christian, I believe that bin Laden was loved by Jesus just as much as me, you, or Mother Theresa.  God’s grace is as offensive as shit.  When Jesus died on the cross, he died for bin Laden.  He thought of bin Laden’s despicable actions, but also how beautiful he was as a human being and how passionately he would pursue his beliefs.  Yes, Osama had good qualities.  He will join the ranks of amazing people who did bad things like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Genghis Kahn, Napoleon, etc.  All these men had incredible talents that are admirable.  Even douche-bags of less grandeur, the local annoying jerk say, has admirable qualities.  He or she has a mother.  He or she is beautiful.

However, I barely have time to mourn for those who have not killed thousands of people indiscriminately out of some crazy religious calling.  I barely have time to mourn child hunger, the African Aids epidemic, or my friend’s problems with depression.  In fact, the only reason that I can see to single out bin Laden’s death as something to mourn is because other people are celebrating it.  In other words, it’s a stellar opportunity to act morally superior.

Finally, as many of you know, I am not a fan of punishment or anyone, especially Christians, who want to deal it out.  Justice is God’s to do, and he does it in the afterlife I’m pretty sure if at all (note “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” and Christ’s parable about the workers in the field).  So, I see Osama’s death as a means to an end and not an end itself.

So, I think our appropriate response to Osama’s death is celebration with a moment or two to pause and say, “Ok, assassination is not ideal.  Ok, God loved bin Laden just as much as he loves me.  Ok, I like his death’s good effects more than just the fact of his death.”  Then we drink a beer (or two), come up with a few cheesy movie lines to use as toasts (e.g. “Hijack this!” and “To the liberation of bearded men everywhere”), and wake up the next day and go about our business in arresting the suffering of others and the depravity of ourselves.

…in other news, Donald Trump called Seth Meyers a stutterer in what appeared to be a somewhat derogatory way.  Of course, I have an opinion, as I am deeply concerned with what Donald Trump thinks of me.