© Josh Sager – April 15th, 2013
On April 15, 2013, the citizens of Massachusetts and those visiting the state for the Boston Marathon were the target of a terrorist attack. At approximately 2:50 PM, two explosive devices were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
In the Boston Marathon bomb blasts, three people were killed (this number may increase, as some people are yet to be stabilized) and over a hundred were wounded. Dozens of the wounded were harmed badly enough to require hospitalization, and many suffered from explosive amputation of limbs.
According to authorities, the two bombs on the marathon route were not alone, but they were the only bombs which detonated—five other bombs were found across the state and there is the possibility that there will be more. What the public knows about these devices is limited at this point, but they were powerful enough to cause significant harm to many individuals.
As the bombing happened mere hours ago, there is little officially confirmed information as to the identity of the bomber or bombers; this information will come out over the following days and it really is too early to speculate with any accuracy.
In the face of so many unknowns, we must simply look at the situation and think about what our responses to terrorism have been, and should be; this is also a good opportunity to avoid repeating some of the more terrible mistakes of our past knee-jerk reactions to terrorism.
What We Must Do
First, we must get to the truth about who committed this terrible crime and find every person who is responsible for participating in its execution. All who were responsible for this attack must be brought to justice quickly and punished to the absolute fullest extent of the law. Any terrorist attack cannot be tolerated and justice should be mete out swiftly.
When I refer to “justice” in regard to punishing these terrorists, I am specifically referring to justice through the legal system. In all too many cases, our politicians have let their fear of terrorism blind them to the fact that justice must be through our laws, not violations of the law for political expediency.
Once our law enforcement officers complete their investigation, those accused of these terrible crimes should be arrested, and charged with terrorism under federal law—they should not be sent to Gitmo, tortured, or have their rights violated in a way that would preclude their being convicted. If convicted, these terrorists should spend the rest of their lives in a federal super-max penitentiary, right next to other domestic mass-murderers.
Violating the rights of even the most heinous murderers—and those who tried to blow up hundreds of Bostonians certainly fit this description—is not justice and is a perversion of our values. We cannot let the actions of these terrorists change who we are or terrify us into forsaking our values.
In addition to seeking justice within the law, we must ensure that we don’t treat these terrorists differently depending upon their ideology. Unfortunately, due to biases within our political discourse, different types of terrorists are treated differently depending upon their ideology. If the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing are Muslims, we will hear a great deal about how Islam is to blame for their acts, yet it is likely that, if the perpetrators are right wing extremists, they will be dismissed as lone wolves. This way of looking at terrorism is both factually incorrect and simply an extension of bigotry.
There is simply a very real possibility that the perpetrators of this terrorist attack are domestic right wing extremists. While it is entirely speculative at this point, several things that we know about this attack suggest that this is the case:
- Patriot’s Day is a significant date to many right wing extremists and has commonly been a time where anti-taxation protests have occurred.
- Recent Terrorism watch reports by the DOJ indicated that right wing extremism is on the rise and that there is a significant risk of attack—unfortunately, this report was ignored by the DOJ, as the GOP objected to it and Eric Holder capitulated.
- The recent fight over gun control has the potential to activate extremism
The bombings of the Boston Marathon were terrorism, pure and simple. If this does turn out to be right wing terrorism instead of Muslim terrorism (as I am almost certain will turn out to be the case), we must not make the mistake of calling it the acts of an isolated lunatic. Such a decision would repeat the mistake that the DOJ made when it ignored the threat of domestic extremism warned of in their report. It shouldn’t matter what the ideology of the perpetrator is, as the act remains the same. We must not ignore a type of terrorism because it’s motivations (ex. anti-government extremism) are more familiar to us than other more foreign motives (ex. Sharia Law) for the same acts.
As a Boston resident myself, I simply would like to conclude by saying that my heart goes out to those killed by this terrorist attack. Hopefully, they will be able to get over whatever injuries they suffered during this terrible event quickly and will find some peace when those guilty are brought to justice.