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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/17/13

The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar And Revealing Reactions

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Message Glenn Greenwald
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Source: The Guardian

As usual, the limits of selective empathy, the rush to blame Muslims, and the exploitation of fear all instantly emerge


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Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race Photograph: Stringer/REUTERS

(Updated below [Wed.])

There's not much to say about Monday's Boston Marathon attack because there is virtually no known evidence regarding who did it or why. There are, however, several points to be made about some of the widespread reactions to this incident. Much of that reaction is all-too-familiar and quite revealing in important ways:

(1) The widespread compassion for yesterday's victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade, with very little attention paid. My Guardian colleague Gary Younge put this best on Twitter this morning:


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Juan Cole this morning  makes a similar point  about violence elsewhere. Indeed, just yesterday in Iraq, at least 42 people were killed and more than 250 injured by  a series of car bombs , the enduring result of the US invasion and destruction of that country. Somehow the deep compassion and anger felt in the US when it is attacked never translates to understanding the effects of our own aggression against others.

One particularly illustrative example I happened to see yesterday was a re-tweet from Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso, proclaiming:

Idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?"

I don't disagree with that sentiment. But I'd bet a good amount of money that the person saying it -- and the vast majority of other Americans -- have no clue that targeting rescuers with "double-tap" attacks is  precisely what the US now does  with  its drone program  and  other forms of militarism . If most Americans knew their government and military were doing this, would they react the same way as they did to yesterday's Boston attack: "Idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?" That's highly doubtful, and that's the point.

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