The senseless murder and mayhem in Boston has left me speechless. Initially, I refused to speculate about who did it, despite repeated requests to do so. I pointed to the wildly mistaken guesses about the Texas murders, when people who should have known better talked as if the Aryan Brotherhood were the perpetrators, sure thing. It turned out to be anything but. In this case, as a friend wrote me, “Chechens, who knew?” I certainly did not.
This bombing, I must confess, has left me mildly depressed; unable to properly celebrate birthdays, or belated birthdays or respond to social invitations.
This bombing is many things. It is a horror, truly senseless. The bombs were much like one placed by a white nationalist along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday march in Spokane in 2011. In that case, an alert by-stander spotted the bomb and it was defused before exploding. Spokane is a city scarred by decades of Aryan robberies, bombings, shootings, etc., and people are simply more alert to these dangers. The Boston bomb is also another incident in a long line of the violence that followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union. And, although the motive is still unknown, these bombs (and the others planned by the perpetrators) were probably intended to fulfill some kind of vision those two young men had.
One thing this incident was not: it was not a result of the United States immigration policy. Any talk, like that emanating from the Senate, radio talk shows, and anti-immigrant organizations should be immediately rejected out of hand. This is not the time to relapse into the xenophobic and Islamophobic fevers that followed 911.
It has been a matter of American foreign policy to permit entry to anyone coming from a Soviet bloc or former Soviet bloc country, and treat them as a refugee. It was a matter of foreign policy since before President Kennedy welcomed Cubans fleeing the Castro regime. Many of those refugees settled in South Florida and started bombing the businesses and homes of one another. According to the Cuban Information Archives, “Between 1975 through 1983, Dade County experienced a total of 57 terrorist related bombings most of which were deployed by Cuban exile group members. Other acts of terrorism, such as the bombing of a Cuban airplane in 1976 and the bombing of the Chilean embassy, were carried out abroad.”
Needless to say, a wave of anti-Cuban xenophobia did not infect the Congress of the United States as a result of those Dade County bombs. To let xenophobia over take us now, would be a cardinal mistake.
The Boston bombing is horrible, and it does not take away from its horror to acknowledge that meaningless violence is an everyday fact of life: From the women that are murdered by their spouses, former spouses and boyfriends, to the children who get hold of Daddy’s pistol or long rifle and shoot their playmate, to the drug-addled young people who believe their life and the lives of all those around them are meaningless. Add to that the suicidal violence of veterans returning from their respective war zones, for who normal is a state of mind that requires massive amounts of forgetting. That is true for all of us.
One thing that cannot be forgotten is the spontaneous applause of those Watertown residents who lined the streets as police vehicles pulled out of the city after capturing the second suspect. We should all remember that.