Saturday, April 20, 2013

In Boston, Remembering It's Good vs. Evil

Totally understand why Bostonians were elated last night -- and wanted to get out of their homes to celebrate. Even so, chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in the streets after "Suspect 2" was caught still looked and felt wrong to me.

This isn't about America vs. Another Country. This is about Good vs. Evil.

To those who think it's wrong to "judge" how people reacted to a horrific act of terrorism and an unprecedented lockdown, I don't entirely disagree. I'm just trying to figure out why watching a moment that should have been full of joy and enormous relief gave me a sinking feeling in the pit in my stomach.

The entire nation -- Boston, above all -- has been through an incredible amount this week. Our hearts have been shattered. But just as mine broke for the families of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Sean Collier -- as well as everyone else harmed on Monday -- it also broke for the people of Norway when a madman slaughtered 77 people and injured 209 in 2011. And for the 156 killed and 600-plus hurt in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. And for the 52 murdered and 700-plus injured in the London subway bombings in 2005. And for the 191 people killed and 1,800 wounded in the Madrid subway bombings in 2004. And while it's natural to be more emotional if terrorism stikes close to where you live -- Sept. 11 left a deep scar on me and most New Yorkers I know -- victims of pure evil don't have to be our neighbors for us to feel compassion and outrage. I have no doubt that hearts were broken around the globe when they saw little Martin's smile.

Someone tried to enlighten me on the celebration in Boston last night, saying that the "USA chants" -- which may have been initiated by the SWAT teams there -- were relevant because "regardless of the enemy, we yet again have shown how amazingly Americans respond to challenge." This explanation was comforting for a moment, until I asked myself this: Would we be chanting "USA! USA!" if these two monsters were "local" boys gone bad?

The road ahead to healing is long, and the "patriotic" chants struck me as a dubious place to start. I, too, am elated that Suspect 2 was apprehended. Now let's try not to lose sight of the real enemy here. One is in custody, and the other is dead. There's no need for a battle cry for just America. This isn't about Us vs. Them. It's about Good vs. Evil.


RockyRides said...

Kenneth, You got it right.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying that.

Dwight said...

I have mixed feelings about the younger brother, did he follow along like a puppy and just not realize that - 4 dead and hundreds wounded is not a video game.

No wonder those people in Boston were screaming Boston and USA. The older brother was obviously turned on a trip home to Chechnya, a country the US has even tried to intervene in as the Russians were pummeling them to death. The fact the boys are listed as Muslim doesn't help because , to most Americans you join the words violence with Muslim and you spell terrorist.

I hope this child is able to bring clarity and closure to this, but with multiple limbs amputated -because people attended a foot race -the tragedy and irony cant go without punishment. As you know from your stroll to work the other day hate is everywhere. April 15th has not been a week that was kind to America.

Christian H said...

I've been wondering all this week why I haven't felt so good about the story, I was watching the tv with my grandma when this first happened and have been following it since (as I'm sure most everyone else has)I am glad that they caught the guy, but something about how everyone else seemed to be reacting just really left me feeling wierd about this whole thing. Maybe it's because I'm about the same age as this kid, maybe it's because I have some close friends/known people who are muslim.. all I know is, I probably should stop looking through Yahoo comment pages.

Thomas said...

I have to agree with your comments. I worry that we continue to move more and more to a jingoist theology regarding such incidents. Terror is terror. And it is good versus evil. Thanks.


For what it's worth, and acknowledging that a crowd doesn't think, I believe you are misreading the crowd's chant of "USA."

With our congress, our economy, our deep and costly gaffes in the Middle East, it is exciting that the Boston police with other law enforcers, can do something right and efficiently.

It's great to have something in the USA worthy of stand-up-and-holler cheers!

Tom W. said...

And I shall reiterate what I said on Facebook: should the Bostonians have been chanting "Good! Good! Good!" instead of "USA! USA! USA!"? Of course, it is indeed a case of good vs. evil, but I still cannot condemn these people for chanting "USA!" Boston is one of the oldest cities in the nation; perhaps the people were expressing their enjoyment of living in a society where they are once again free. I really think too much is being read into this.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Tom W:

Would love for you to be right. But a quick scroll through the comments on any article about this case makes me fear the worst.

Anonymous said...

Reading the blogs showed most Manhattan ghetto gays had been espousing that the bomber must have been a Republican teabagger. Matthew Rettenmund refuses to acknowledge Muslim culprits because he's rantically trying to hang onto his diversity-is-good silliness, and Andrew Towle was trying to say the Duke lacrosse boys were probably behind the bombing (especially the Irish-Catholic one).