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At Boston Interfaith Service, Obama Calls for Justice and Compassion

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"What made them suspect him? He was running -- so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb -- as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one."

Conservative Rupert Murdoch's The New York Post was specific in identifying the "Saudi man." Two hours after the Monday explosion, the Post ran a story on its website under a headline that blared:

"Authorities ID person of interest as Saudi national in marathon bombings, under guard at Boston Hospital."

The Post also quoted Fox News as saying, "Law enforcement sources said the 20-year-old suspect was under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital."

Continuing with Fox News as its source, the Post reported "the suspect suffered severe burns"

The so-called "Saudi man" was in the hospital. He may well have suffered "severe burns." But that would be the only part of the Fox-Post narrative that proved to be correct.

By Thursday afternoon, the FBI reported that it had identified two suspects, both of whom were identified in video footage.  Below in an FBI picture is one of the suspects. 

2nd Suspect FBI photo
Copyrighted Image? DMCA

This was an emotional week for the nation, and especially for Boston. Grief-stricken and angry citizens must  be handled with care at such a time.

News reports that later must be corrected, have a way of feeding a false narrative that hangs around until they morph into "false flag" memes, stories that emerge as conspiracy theories.

It could take time to conclude this search. As a nation, we have faced this darkness before, including in recent years, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the killings during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and the killing spree of Chicago-born Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who bombed, killed and maimed innocent people for nearly 18 years.          

What really matters in this week's events is that once again indiscriminate evil struck. The impact of such attacks reaches all of us at some level, beginning with the immediate families of the dead in Boston, and then radiating outward to the entire human community.

President Obama and other speakers at Monday's interfaith service, rose to the occasion to inspire the nation. In contrast, some conservative media outlets rushed to judgments that were irresponsible and damaging to the innocent.

It is better that we end this week lifted by the power of faith, not dragged down by the destructiveness of revenge.

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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