By Paolo von Schirach
April 20, 2013
WASHINGTON – The Boston Marathon bombing and its bloody aftermath tell us something about a persistent and perverse national fascination with irrational violence. Acts of terror, however serious and bloody, get way too much attention and coverage in America. And this is problematic, because more such events can unfortunately occur. If any time some fanatic or psychopath causes death and destruction most of the country comes to a stand still, with non stop TV coverage filled mostly with obsessive and senseless speculation, then we are in serious trouble.
It might happen again
We are in trouble because all this might happen again. We shall find out more about the two brothers who appear to be the architects of the Boston Marathon terror attack. Still, if we assume for a moment that they did all this by themselves or with just minimal outside support then it becomes clear that deadly acts of terror are unfortunately easy to plan and execute. Regarding this one, we have been told by experts that constructing the deadly explosive devices used in Boston is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. Sadly, “how to” information is all over the intenet.
There are more psychopaths out there
This is a rather frightening prospect. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to assume that there are at least some more psychopaths out there willing to rationalize their desire to kill and to get fame for outrageous violent acts via some some hastily manufactured ideological or religious justification. America is a free society of more than 300 million people. We cannot check everybody all the time. Law enforcement agencies and intelligence services can and will prevent many acts of terror; but probably not all of them.
If every time someone does something terrible resulting in loss of life, the whole country stops, then just a handful of terrorists win. At the very least they score tactical victories. Let us remember that their goal is to create havoc and fear. In the recent Boston case, two young brothers, armed with what appear to be to be rudimentary but effective home made devices managed to bring a major US metropolitan area to a stand still. This is way too much. They got caught; and this is great. But think about the cost of stopping everything: transportation networks, commerce and most economic activities, even for a day or two.
Terrorists are criminals
While those “experts” who make “terrorism” their specialty would like you to think otherwise, terrorists are criminals, just like all the others. The fact that they engage in sensational acts of gratuitous violence, usually in the name of some bizarre ideology or religious principle, makes them a bit different but not “special”. Whatever the ideological justification used by the two Boston area brothers, (surely we shall find out much more about them), or by al Qaeda, acts of terror are crimes, baffling crimes, but crimes nonetheless. Let the police and the intelligence services pursue all the available leads, domestic and foreign, prevent these crimes whenever possible, and pursue the perpetrators after the fact in the cases in which prevention was not possible.
In the meantime, as we let the professionals to their job, as a society let’s give up this collective fascination with acts of violence planned and sometimes executed by psychopaths. Let’s do our best to “keep calm and carry on” with our normal lives.