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Saturday, October 1, 2016

WASHINGTON — The political response to the Boston Marathon bombings suggests that we live in an age of shrink-wrapped, prepackaged opinions.

When something new comes along, we hasten to squeeze it into whatever frameworks we were carrying around with us a day, a month or a year before.

When the ghastly news from Boylston Street first hit, there was an immediate divide between those who were sure the attack was a form of Islamic terrorism and those just as persuaded that it was organized by domestic, right-wing extremists. April 15 was Tax Day, after all.

Unless I’m missing some obscure website out there, absolutely no one imagined what turned out to be the case: that the violence was unleashed by two young immigrants with Chechen backgrounds. Chechnya was not on anybody’s radar screen — and it does not appear that the conflict in that rebellious Russian republic actually had much to do with the actions of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that day.

We then moved, with dispatch and without pausing for more information, to show how the event proved that our side was right in any number of ongoing debates.

Opponents of immigration reform used the fact that the brothers are immigrants as a lever to derail the rapidly forming consensus in favor of broad repairs to the system. Supporters countered, defensively, that if there is any lesson here, it’s that our approach to immigration needs to be modernized. In truth, this horrifying episode has little to do with immigration reform one way or the other.

We fell back to other familiar ground. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said we should assume these brothers had to be linked with one of our international enemies and that Dzhokhar should therefore be tried by a military tribunal and not in a normal American court, the venue to which his status as an American citizen entitles him.

The Obama administration doesn’t get credit for much these days, so it deserves courage points for deciding that Dzhokhar be treated in a way that protects the rights of all other citizens.

And, of course, what I have just written means that I cannot claim to be immune from the very forces I’m describing. My own passion for saner gun laws similarly led me to ask why we have not focused more on how the brothers obtained their weapons or why it was so hard (because of the NRA’s opposition to chemical “taggants” in gunpowder) to trace where they got the material to build their bombs.

My faith in a tolerant, pluralistic America made me worry that hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Muslim citizens could become the victims of our anger — much as Italian-Americans were stereotyped in the days of Sacco and Vanzetti.

  • There is a lot of truth in what E.J. Dionne said, and I would add that tragedies are often used to reinforce preconceived convictions and as toold to score political points. It is becoming increasingly evident that the GOP is planning to use the Boston tragedy to suggest the Obama administration dropped the ball. I have read several comments on the blogosphere already suggesting that Obama did not keep us as safe as Bush did AFTER 9/11! Not surprisingly, those desperate to find a parallel between what happened when Republicans were in control of the White House and Congress do not hesitate to compare what is happening now to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the USA. Over 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11/01, two iconic symbols of American economic might were leveled, the heart of American military power was stricken, and there is a good chance that more would have happened had it not been for the bravery of average Americans to prevent it. The question I would ask to those who are now saying that the attacks in Benghazi and Boston are the results of Obama’s drone strikes is: what do they suggest we do? Should we allow the mastermind of those attacks to remain at large, should we continue to pay bribes to the country that harbors the thugs that attacked us, should we continue to ignore the threat of terrorists worldwide to ensure we don’t offend their sensitivities and increase the chances of retaliation? I don’t think so. I don’t favor war,, but I believe the best way to kill a venemous snake is to chop off its head.

    • mike

      It happened on his watch, the buck stops with him. Bush was attacked by your side for the economic meltdown when in reality it started years before but the collapse was on his watch. The different departments still are not talking between themselves, which was proven by Napolitano’s testimony. Drones are a part of it, but not the whole picture. There is no one thing that forms their thoughts, how about their distorted view of religion? Arab Spring is part of it, which Obama supported is a factor. A question to you. With all the previous attacks before in Benghazi, and especially on 9/11 why would the Ambassador Stevens be in an unprotected consulate(increased protection denied April 2012) knowing the volatility of the region. What was so important to meet with the Ambassador from Turkey on this day. To many unanswered questions. To little investigation from this New Media that Dionne thinks so highly of. Investigate the right but turn ones head when it comes to the left.

      Why Mirandize so quickly the Boston terrorist? Who sent the judge? There is a fine line when it comes to protecting our rights, but to deny the people from getting all the info from this terrorist is not looking out for all the people. We are at war but Obama won’t admit(overseas contingency, what a stupid phrase) that they are out to destroy us. Didn’t he say he was directing this country to turn a new page back in 2009. Sure hasn’t made a difference.

      Give them no quarter.

      • RobertCHastings

        The economic happened on George W’s watch, and occured as a direct result of his fiscal and regulatory actions. He just didn’t have the balls to tell the country that the Recession had begun as early as the middle of 2007, more than a year before Obama was elected. September 11, 2001 had the groundwork laid long before Clinton even took office, and Reagan’s own point man, Oliver North, stated before Reagan even left office that Osama bin Laden was the most dangerous man on the planet. The price of truth is constant vigilance. You revisionists will have Reagan and the Bushes walking with Moses by the burning bush.

        • mike

          So the laws under Clinton that relaxed the standards to qualify for mortgage had no effect? Two laws in 97 and 99 allowed the greater use of “Dirivaties” which Clinton claims he was given wrong advice from Geitner and Rubin and shoud have stopped them in an interview in 2010. What gets me is that no party is innocense but your side just won’t face the facts. The Economist, WSJ, there are many articles that show this.
          As to Osama, if he was so dangerous, why did Clinton refuse to take him when the Saudi’s offered him to Clinton?
          You sir are the revisionist if ever there was one.

      • Ambassador reside in Embassies in the capital cities of the countries they are assigned to and protected by a detachment of Marines and undercover CIA agents. Most of their duties involve representing and advancing our interests, which require interaction with high government officials of the host country. In addition to that, they are also responsible for the consulates and the work performed by Consuls on their behalf. Why did Ambassador Stevens decide to visit the consulate in Benghazi is something we may never learn. Perhaps he thought the volatility that existed in the region was not as severe as our intelligence agencies believed, and he thought going there with two security agents was enough.
        I spent 30 years overseas and had the opportunity to visit embassies and consulates in countries like Venezuela, Spain, and the UK. Our embassies are well protected, but are vulnerable. Some consulates are fairly large, others are just a room in an office building. That’s the way things have been for decades. Our diplomats are well aware of the risks they take when they are assigned in volatile parts of the world. They accept those risks because they are loyal citizens and exemplary professionals. Second guessing is easy, what is tough is making the right decisions before things happen, and taking corrective actions after they happen. Remember, when we are abroad we must abide by the laws of the host country.

        • mike

          With all the attacks and pull out of others from Bengazi and knowing his request for more security had been denied for the consulate he made a tragic mistake. To ask for more security he must have known things were not safe. Why of all days, 9/11 would he not be in the embassy or if traveling not have more security. What was so important to have to meet the Turk. Ambas. in an unprotected facility and on this day!!!
          I am not questioning the Embassies security or their responsibility in another country.
          My point to this whole story is that it is so under reported. How many survivors have been interviewed by the press. Why so secret on every aspect. Why has the congress not been given access to these people. I under stand National Security, and some things must kept secret but this is well over that.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The gun happy in this country will never admit millions more guns in the wrong hands means thousands more gun deaths every day. These blockheads are in for a huge surprise if they think they can expand their 2nd Amendment rights to turn US streets into war zones to get their jollies. There are other options to limit the number of guns manufactured and to increase the cost of seller and dealer gun licenses so they are not easily afforded.

    No matter what any gun nut says, he has no reason to own a Bushmaster or AR15 much less magazines that can kill 20 kids in less than a few minutes. Sorry…that dog don’t hunt.

    • You liberals just don’t get it. When your pal Barry, gets done with what he’s started, you’ll see lots of guns, but in the wrong hands.

      • Thank those who rejected the expansion of an existing law to make it harder for criminals and mentally unstable people to purchase guns via the Internet or at gun shows.

      • Dale R Holcomb

        Sir , we liberals do get it there are to many nuts with guns already

      • neeceoooo

        You gun fanatics don’t get it, did you know that the Al-Qaeda leaders tell their followers to come to the US where they can get any weapon they choose without any kind of back ground check.

      • You mean all those weapons purchased at gun shows by felons and foreign agents? You know, when there is no background check. Although people can certainly obtain weapons illegally, the gun shows probably are the best place to purchase a quantity of weapons without any consequences.

    • middleclasstaxpayer

      Guns are used EVERYDAY to PROTECT & DEFEND ordinary citizens. If you think you are safer without any self-protection, I suggest you post a sign on your residence advising that it’s a “gun free zone” so everyone knows they are safe to enter (including the rapists & home invaders). You can always call the police AFTER the incident, assuming you are still alive. PUT YOUR SIGN UP or SHUT UP!

      • Now that’s just a stupid suggestion. The first part of self-protection is not to call attention to oneself. The second is to be aware of your surroundings. For instance, if you live in what you perceive to be a dangerous neighborhood, you should probably move if you want to be safe. And there is no law that says you cannot put up a sign that says something like “Protected by Smith & Wesson” even if you don’t own a firearm. Personally, I have a large protective dog and a baseball bat. Works for me.

  • In a statement made on FB, I questioned how we, as a sheltered citizens group, would react to the Boston incident. It seems that I was right and I also wondered what the rest of the world, where this is almost a daily occurrence, might think of our actions. A nearly complete shut down of a Major City and a force of police, equipment, etc required to take into custody a lone wounded young boy.

  • JohnRNC

    I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Right rant in favor of dismantling Tsarneav’s constitutional rights. No “Miranda” (bye bye Amendments 5 & 6). They want him reclassified as an enemy combatant and water-boarded for information. They want to set up surveillance inside mosques – the list goes on. Yes, this kid (his adult brain won’t fully develop until he is in his mid-20s) and his brother committed a heinous crime and should be held to account. But he should be treated like any other American Citizen with his constitutional rights intact.

    If on the other hand we decide to trash the constitution because of a terrible act committed by 2 individuals, then we should look at other heinous acts committed by other individuals and include the 2nd Amendment in our revising.

    • John, I am sure you already know that for some people the Constitution is a great document to be followed when it is convenient to them, and irrelevant when it interferred with the accomplishment of their goals. When the right rejected the expansion of a gun control law, they made a mockery of the 2nd Amendment by supporting the concept an UNREGULATED militia. Not surprisingly, the advocates of anarchy did not hesitate to justify their vote on constitutional grounds!

    • Dale R Holcomb

      I Agree with you , protecting our rights under the constitution should take precedent and although it can be tedious at time and somewhat cumbersome it is for all citizens , yes all even those we do not care for.The slippery slope is when you abrogate parts of the constitution each time you do it it becomes easier until it becomes meaningless and that is the real crime

  • David Turrentine

    West didn’t look like a terroristic attack, yet the media has not remember that it occurred one day before the Morro Building anniversary.

    • RobertCHastings

      And the explosion of the two tankers in Mobil Bay was on what day?

  • howa4x

    Acts of terror pale in comparison to our death rate from chronic diseases, and the homicide rate from guns in general .Governors won’t take the Medicaid expansion for political reasons and don’t seem to care that about the 400 plus thousand that died of cancer or that same number from heart disease. Why won’t they try to prevent these tragic deaths by giving their populations access to care. Why are we not concerned about the food suppliers for making us so sick. Or what about the 30,000 deaths from normal gun violence? Why isn’t Lindsey Graham talking about this is he wants to protect Americans. We are glued to the investigation of 2 terror suspects when death is all around us why , because it takes on a soap opera quality when dealing with a news media that is addicted to the news du jour and can’t deal with our long term systemic problems. Boston is terror and west Texas is negligence. We find terror exciting because it has a lot of moving parts that are ongoing and the other boring. Ok so it blew up, what’s next? So all those people died, sorry. So in Texas we will find out that some corporate exec cut corners, and we will all sigh, what else is new, that’s what they do. Soon Boston will fade from view except for the people who live there, same with West Tx , but the steady drone of hundreds of thousands of deaths each year will grind on mostly un noticed.