Boston Marathon Bombings and American Exceptionalism
Three are dead including a small boy, over 140 are wounded. Lives are shattered, peace is disrupted. President Obama stopped short of calling the attacks terrorism. One would hope this is because there has been no claim of responsibility yet, and we dont know why these innocents have been targeted. Without threats or demands from a political agent of some type, this is an awful random act of violence, and not terrorism at all. Yet it is likely the current administration has other motivations from avoiding, for the moment at least, the “T” word.
What we do know is that there is a tremendous search going on right now to find the person or group which planted these devices. The only hope these killers have of avoiding detection is if they were either brilliant in their coded messages, or they avoided using all digital media completely to plan their horrible attacks.
i scanned a dozen newspaper articles on these bombings. Many have human interest angles and interviews with witnesses or people in the area. Most articles are filled with promises by government officials that they will investigate fully and punish wrongdoers. But what is missing from every report i have read (and there are hundreds that i have not read of course) is why some individual or group might feel justified in doing this.
So this is the point in this blog post where the “true patriots” are going to want to bail out and read something else. Because what is politically untouchable is that there are hundreds of groups which could have planted these bombs as retaliation for US policy towards them. What no one wants to talk about is the possibility that these are not unprovoked and unjustified attacks, but simply a completely predictable chapter in a widening war the US is waging all over the world.
If you were a Pakistani American who just heard that drones had killed some child in your family, for no apparent reason at all, this type of bombing might feel like revenge for the strike against your family.
Which brings us to the useful definition of terrorism. For me a useful definition would be:
Terrorism is the act or threat of violence against non-combatants to advance a political agenda.
This is not at all the definition which is in common use. Wikipedia goes on at length about the problem that governments have with defining this word. For starters, almost all definitions of terrorism exclude state actors. States can not be terrorists, even if they behave exactly like non-states. Unusually non-combatants are excluded. Governments want their troops and secret police to be able to be victims of terrorism, regardless of what actions these trained killers have perpetrated against these so-called terrorists.
What seems obviously true, but that no one wants to talk about, is that as long as the US is killing innocents in other countries someone is going to feel that the appropriate response is to strike back at the US. Sometimes this will be on US soil and sometimes civilians will die tragically like they did in Boston
I am flattered that this article has been translated in Czech and posted by my old friend and boss Jakub Patocka
7 responses to “Boston Marathon Bombings and American Exceptionalism”
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One idea I had comes from reading some roman emperor who said that the problems really start after war when the troops come home. Democracy Now has reported on the susceptibility of returning soldiers with few options and a pitiful jobscape. This has left a growing number who easily fall into the hands of nazi movements within the country. The real enemy is within.
I generally agree with everything you said, but I also can’t help but think this is probably the work of a white supremacist or neo-nazi individual or group, so my thinking about it as terrorism is a little different. My reason for believing this is that historically these groups (or individuals) have not claimed responsibility for the act, as part of their thinking is that an unknown terrorist is even more terrifying, and unlike foreign terrorists, their aim is to destroy the government, not make a more focused political point. They want to make an impact while staying in the shadows until the time is “ripe” from their perspective, to take on the government openly.
Yep. I find that all human behavior can be categorized as follows: Willing to harm others who have done nothing to oneself personally = “asshole”. Willing to harm others who are threatening oneself personally = “most people”. Not willing to harm others even when threatened = a Buddha or something. … Right-winger, Stalinist, CIA operative, bully of the playground or Islamist; if people would just refrain from behaving like assholes, human society would be a beautiful place. Pretty sure that’s a direct quote from Jesus.
I would love it if the media would just refer to the people who randomly hurt others as “assholes” and be done with it. It makes the point even if it’s crude. No-one wants to be publicized as an asshole.
@Eric – Here, here.
@Kip – thanks for this insight into domestic terrorist groups, i did not know these things.
@JBird – a disturbing but not surprising trend
Paxus at Acorn Manifesting Loud Love
My coworkers, family & I find it very noteworthy that the bombings occurred within hours of news leaks that the following day a ~600 page independent, congressional report would prove the US has been engaged in torture since 911… Also a day after yet another US drone killing civilians in Afghan.
i.e. You are exactly right, Paxus.