Watching television coverage of the Boston Bombings last week, I reacted in the same way I'm sure most other Americans did. My thoughts, my heart, my sympathies, my condolences--my everything--went out to the people of Boston, especially to the families who lost a loved one and to those who were injured.
What a terrible tragedy this was! Not only was a day of rejoicing reduced to death and mourning, but a blow was struck at the very embodiments of Patriots Day: the Marathon runners who sought to raise thousands, if not millions, of dollars for worthy causes, including those related to the recent Sandy Hook tragedy.
As to the perpetrators of the tragedy, what could be more despicable than
to launch such an attack on such a day and transform it to a living hell? First, there were the noise and horror of the explosions, the smoke
billowing upwards, and the nails, pellets and shrapnel flying all over. And who can ever forget the effects of the bombings? Suddenly, spectators who had come to watch and cheer on the running of others were themselves forced to run as they had never run in their
lives before. Many ran helter-skelter trying to find escape routes, entering
stores and exiting from back doors onto an adjoining street. And some never made it. Dismembered limbs littered Boylston Street, and blood ran all over.
The tragedy also directly affected people who neither attended nor participated in the Marathon. Many who sought assurance that family members involved in the event were safe could not get through to them by phone, as cell phones at the scene had gone dead.
Similar frustrations confronted First Responders who rushed in to tend to the injured. Patients with severed limbs and children with severe burns had to be treated in a temporary medical tent.
Imagine the fear of those at the scene. The anxiety of their loved ones. The desperation of those trying to contact them.
In reality, there was no need to imagine all this. Images projected round -the-clock on TV screens showed the unimaginable horror
and tragedy in stark, literal, and graphic detail. As I watched, I felt as if I was actually a part of the event. I've suffered
tragedy and fear myself, so the whole scene became especially personal and palpable for me.
Don't Those Who Suffer Elsewhere Also Deserve Compassion?
I was glued to the TV until well past midnight. When I finally dozed off, I had a very disturbed sleep and was back watching TV as soon as I got up. At that point, a myriad of thoughts and emotions ran through me.
One of the things I greatly appreciated was that President Obama lost no time in going on the air and telling the nation that the authorities did not yet know who was behind the bombings. He urged caution in assigning blame. "We still do not know who did this, or why, and people shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts," he said.
Yet, I was also struck by the contrast
between what had happened in Boston and what happens in other parts of the
world. It hit home with me that in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere such horror and tragedy do not occur once in a blue moon.
They are a routine daily occurrence. Drone bombers buzz overhead twenty-four hours a day. People huddle in fear, not knowing when
a missile--or, in other cases, bombs--might swoop down on them, obliterating their home and
killing or paralyzing them or their loved ones. When that does happen and all hell breaks
loose, there are no first responders to rush in and tend to the injuries. And very frequently, many more than three people die.
In fact, just a few days before the Boston bombings, a NATO air attack in the Shigal district of Afghanistan's embattled Kunar province killed at least 18 people, including as many as 11 innocent children. There was no ambiguity as to who had killed them and how. They were killed by a NATO air strike.It occurred to me that, though these tragic occurrences are often far worse than what happened at Boston or at Sandy Hook, they receive very little coverage, if any at all, in the American media. Consequently, neither those who suffer grievously or die ingloriously in such events receive sympathy or condolences or support from any American. No American tears are shed for them. What a contrast this is to the round-the-clock TV coverage in the U.S. of the Sandy Hook shootings and the Boston bombings!
The Boston Bombings and Anti-Islamist Bigotry