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    Marathon Day

    Boston is my home, my beloved city, although I have not lived there for many years. And Patriot's Day, the Monday of the Boston Marathon, is the proudest day in a proud city's year. We open our city to all, and hold one of the world's greatest sporting events, the oldest annual marathon on the globe. We hold that race in public streets and fill the sidewalks to cheer. It is Boston's day to celebrate the many things that make it Boston.

    Tonight the news is asking who did this and what they want. Of course, there are no answers to those questions yet. 24-hour news only fills the anxious time before anyone knows anything real, and makes those hours more anxious. But what the bombers want, what any bombers want, is not important. What matters is what they want to take away from us. Why they attacked does not matter, because their beliefs cannot justify this deed. What they attacked does matter, because that is what we have to keep them from taking away.

    The Marathon is a celebration of athletic excellence and discipline, of course. And it has become a symbol of human willpower overcoming adversity. No one can watch the Hoyts run their race without understanding that this is about the will to face challenges and overcome them. But the Marathon was deliberately symbolic from the first. The race began in 1897, the year after the first modern Olympic Games revived the marathon as a sporting event. The Greek Revival spirit of the event resonated with Boston's vision of itself as the Athens of America, our country's university city, heir to classical learning and values. More importantly, the legacy of the ancient Greeks was bound up, as it was for the Founding Fathers, with democracy itself; celebrating an intellectual link to the ancient Athenians (in the most grueling physical way possible) inevitably means celebrating a tradition of democracy. It's not for nothing that Boston runs the Marathon on Patriot's Day, which celebrates the anniversary of Lexington and Concord. In some way that never gets spoken outright, the Marathon is a celebration of American democracy in the city that birthed the Revolution.

    But the Marathon is also a game of peace, founded in the wake of the Olympic movement for many of the same reasons. It is a reenactment of the Greeks' peaceful competitions. The Boston Marathon has lived up to that Olympic ideal, drawing athletes from around the globe. Inevitably, the running of the Marathon is a celebration of the openness, the public freedom, that make a great city great (and in truth make it a city in the first place). It requires a city open to visitors from around the world. It requires a city where half a million people can gather and cheer in the streets. Holding the marathon at all celebrates the essence of urban civilization: a civic space shared by multitudes of strangers, living together in peace.

    This is what the bombers want to destroy: democratic values. A dedication to shared history. Resolution in the face of adversity. Peace. International cooperation. Public space and public institutions free for all. A city of open streets and open minds.

    Terrorism wants to convince us that we cannot afford these things. It works to tell us that such things are luxuries for the naive. But these are exactly the things that we must not give up, because we cannot do without them. Because these are the things terrorists fear most of all.

    Boston is a city and not a fortress. The last attempt to turn it into a fort, shortly after Lexington and Concord, was an abject failure. Terrorists hate cities, hate places where people can walk the streets, can meet and talk in peace, because terrorists fear civilization itself.




    Doctor Cleveland, thinking of you and all Bostonians today.

    A thought, not one of which I'm necessarily proud, is that it feels worse (although in reality it is just the same) when you've been to a place. There shouldn't be any blood there, is the thought that runs through one's mind, and yet there it is. For people in many other countries this cognitive dissonance is dulled by the horror of reality.

    But I will say one thing for cognitive dissonance--when the blasts happened, people actually ran toward them, trying to help. Which was dumb as all hell, but brave and good. It was sweet to see/hear one police officer pulling people together, saying "Something's  f---d up over there; there's gonna be people who need help." He was not about to let able-bodied helpers turn and run off! That moment will always be in my head, every time I think of Boston.

    After I turned on the TV today and saw what was going on in Boston.  The first thought that came to mind was hate groups.  When the debate over gun control heated up, I went to the Southern Poverty Law Center internet site to read.  They keep track of the groups and their locations.  In the last 4 years we have gone from 149 hate groups to 1360 and I was so surprised at the number of them.  This worried me because of all the crazy talk coming from the right.  Some of these groups have chapters in different parts of the country and very millitant.  I am not jumping to conclusions because we won't know much for a while on the bombings in Boston.  There is a serious problem brewing with the huge increase of these groups. Here is the article about the increase in them:   Also take a look at the map tracker listed on the left menu. You can learn who the groups are in your area.  Please also look at the long time line of terrorist acts in this country since 1995:  I just hope we don't see an increase of violence.  My heart goes out for Boston and the families that was hurt.

    Cities and Fortresses, right?  I had no idea, before today that a civic government could shut down cell phone service, though now that I've seen it happen, it makes perfect sense and it's easily accomplished, if the cell providers help out and just turn off their towers.

    Destor Jr.'s godfather was in the race.  He finished well ahead of the mayhem.  Not sure why I keep telling people that.  I guess we all have our touchstones to events like this.

    And, yes, you're right about what terrorists hate -- the normal and casual interactions between strangers in a free society is what they target and wherever they are from or whatever allegiances they claim, they are basically fascists who want to use force to impose their vision on the rest of us.  And, yes, lefties can be terrorists too.  I'm more than prepared for any explanation here.

    I think there's plenty of time to talk about the perpetrators when we know who the perpetrators are. They could be left or right, foreign or domestic. It doesn't matter who they are: they are criminals.

    The news on September 11 was full of misinformation. What most people think they know about Columbine, to this very day, is based on misinformation from the first days' news. What 24-hour coverage covers is the 24 hours before anyone knows anything.

    At the JFK library in Boston, you can see a videotape loop of Cronkite reporting on November 22, 1963. And what Cronkite reports is wrong, crazily wrong. It's a few hours into a crisis: all he has is a bunch of wild rumors. But really, what would he have?

    Definitely, no cause for speculation yet.  And let's not rush another Richard Jewell, either.

    I just saw a picture of the eight year-old little girl who was killed.  I'm an attorney and understand my responsibilities, and I understand the constitution and the right to due process, but right now I couldn't care less if the people/person who did this were shot and killed or beaten to death.  I know that's wrong and, candidly, I really don't care right now.  I know someone up yonder in this thread (Resistance I think) said that the first thing he thought of were the American drone strikes.  I didn't think of that, and perhaps it makes me less than fully good--and I can live with that sans question or doubt. 

    Addendum: I don't know why there is a picture of a little girl circulating on the internet who is said to have died yesterday.  But all of the newspaper accounts refer to the death of an eight year-old boy. 




    Addendum: I don't know why there is a picture of a little girl circulating on the internet who is said to have died yesterday.  But all of the newspaper accounts refer to the death of an eight year-old boy.

    Because no one knows much yet, and the internet is filled with panicky, innaccuarate, and irresponsible rumors.

    Just read this interesting perspective on W.R. Mead's blog and thought it worth sharing:

    At some point, this Schrödinger moment will come to an end; we will know who did this and why. A lone wacko? A conspiracy? A deranged right-wing nut job who somehow thinks killing innocent people on Patriot’s Day will strike a blow for freedom? A crazed religious fanatic who has mistaken hell-spawned hatred for the love of God? Some other fool carrying some other kind of hate?
    Amid our grief and sorrow over this attack, we should, I think, be grateful for the interval between the crime and politics. It allows us to treat the horror on its own terms, to see the pure evil of this act divorced from any rationalization or justification. A hater—of who or of what doesn’t matter—turned a festive public gathering into a bloodbath. Children with no possible connection to or responsibility for any political crime or provocation whatever have been mutilated and torn.
    The anonymity of the crime allows us to experience its enormity.  Each hour that has gone by since the blast, each new report of heroism among the survivors and responders, each new detail about the identity of the victims clarifies the essential truth of the situation: there is no cause that can justify this deed.


    The relation of Schrödinger, and/or his work in physics to this crime escapes me. I doubt he would see any connection.

    There is in fact little or no 'interval' between crime and politics unless you are working at quantum time scales.

    The observation that "there is no cause that can justify this deed" brings to mind what we did to Iraq, where bombings like this, previously rare or nonexistent, became commonplace after we invaded and toppled Saddam, failed to secure UN sealed weapons sites, and fired the police and the army, in an invasion which is still publicly touted by those who carried it out as worthwhile and just. 

    It isn't a great analogy, but I suppose that the cat is supposedly both dead and alive inside the box represents that we haven't narrowed down much speculation about the bombing yet.

    Yes, I think the general idea is that this moment of uncertainty, we don't know if this the perpetrator is a nativist, an Islamist, or something else entitrely.

    With the FBI saying 'someone knows who did this' and asking for leads it worries me that they don't have much to go on, and may not catch this coward anytime soon. He may be a loner, a unabomber type, a psycho who loves the power and attention. Guys like this are very hard to find, yet are prone to repeat their crimes months or years later if not caught.

    The unabomber's specialty was mail bombs.  He was only caught, in 1996 after 17 years of mayhem, when his own brother suspected him as being the criminal after reading the 50 page 'unabomber manifesto' published (at the demand of the unabomber himself) in the NYT and WaPo in 1995.

    I'm not worried that it will take too long to find the right guy. I'm worried that we'll rush to accuse the wrong guy too soon.

    The 1996 Olympics bombing (which is the terrorist incident most like this one) wasn't solved for two years. But that took longer because Richard Jewell (who had acted bravely and probably saved lives) got his name dragged through the mud and his life ruined. And we're inches away from cable news accusing one of the victims of being the killer.

    The fear of not getting the guy soon enough is something everyone has to resist. Giving in to it can make things really, really scary.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Bostonians today along with the visitors to this international event.

    I am getting numbers anywhere from 140 to 180 as far as those injured.

    MSNBC just reported that 103 people are currently being treated for injuries.

    An individual or a small cadre of individuals can do so much damage in such a short window of time.

    Cable news is filling its time almost exclusively to this massacre. I am of two minds as far as this development. The protocols have been in place for sometime.

    On the right wing web and right wing radio idiots are already calling for a war against all Muslims when we do not know who is behind this act of terrorism.

    I just do not understand the purpose behind this tragedy.

    Just as I cannot understand the reason for the shootings in Connecticut or Aurora or any of these mass killings/woundings.

    All I have been seeing over the last three or four decades is the implementation of more and more drastic security measures imposed by the governmental and corporate authorities.

    Six year old kids are screened for weapons these days.

    No one can enter a governmental building without being screened.

    How in the hell they are going to screen an open air event where participants run some 26 miles is beyond me.

    Helpless, helpless, helpless.

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