“Let’s be honest and admit that everyone had a hope about who the Boston bomber would out to be. Conservatives hoped it would be some swarthy Middle Easterner, which would validate their belief that the existential threat from Islam is ongoing and that their preferred policies are the best way to deal with that threat. Liberals hoped it would be a Timothy McVeigh-like character, some radical right-winger or white supremacist, which would perhaps make us all think more broadly about terrorism and what the threats really are. The truth turned out to be … well, we don’t really know yet.”


Is this right?  I cribbed if from a political blog I read daily.  I sure don’t think so – I think this captures a particular politics-as-sports-metaphor-too-far thinking.

I will be the first to admit that at the instant of crisis, once past the fight-or-flight mode, my concern is always between my ears – call it the curse of the quiet and painfully self-aware.  I just can’t imagine thinking ‘I sure hope it was some right wing wacko and not my team’ – or the reverse, as applicable.

Beyond the trivial and endless left vs. right debates, the issue laid bare is what to do about the foreign, the non-polis in our American experiment.  It a peculiarly American problem, as most cultures have no problem dehumanizing the other.  Other, foreigners – not us.  The American ideal is supposedly one of striving and equality of opportunity for those willing to work for it, the stories we tell ourselves of immigrant boy shoe-shiners who grow up and own a chain of shoe-shine booths or whatever.


It is a comforting thought, and thus dangerous.  The cruelest choice is the one we make daily, when possible – complete obliviousness.  We ignore the critics, the disaffected that don’t make it, or if we do notice them, we blame them for their own failures.  They didn’t work hard enough, try enough, learn the language… plus food stamps and anchor babies, bastards.

Leaving the powerless powerless, seething, and apparently occasionally violent.  I forgot pathetic.  You don’t have to read the Unabomber Manifesto or Conrad’s Secret
Agent to recognize the futility of attacking a random crowd of people that will continue to ignore you.


At this moment, the younger brother is still at large, and I am rooting for the police snipers.  I don’t want answers, need answers.  We will never get answers.  There is no need to question the motive of a snake, earthquake, or rogue wave.  Our agency matters little, not the runners, the victims, or even the bombers, which is the discomforting truth in all of this