What I Decided about Terror

May 1, 2013

All Bostonians everywhere felt shocked, felt hurt, and felt concern for our city after the Boston Marathon this year. But some stuff was just weird.

I saw this:


… and I said ha! No, Boston, no. That’s not what happened, fool. They told you to stay indoors, and so you did.

There was one nineteen-year-old injured kid with a gun and some scary pressure cooker bombs somewhere in Watertown, and no one knew where, and so the National Guard, the FBI, the Boston Police, and the Watertown Police swarmed our empty streets and yards while our people all hid, hunkered down in their houses, or else watched the crazed scene with bated breath in huddled little groups of fear.

Did we “hunt you down”? Or did we react, terrified?

And then people we elected started pointing fingers at Homeland Security for not being more scared of immigrants, and at the FBI for not spying on us more, as we read here and here.

And that day I was on the train in Chicago, and I contributed. I tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 8.14.09 PM

And it’s been a week, almost two, in fact, and yet today I saw this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 8.34.39 PM

and this:


and this:



and this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 8.35.00 PM

… everywhere.

And I thought, are we bored? We are all safe here in Chicago, but we retweet and comment pointlessly about stuffed animals on poles. We say: “Be careful out there.” Huh?

And so I decided, there and then, to think carefully before I terrorize myself and my countrywomen and men with retweets and reposts and pictures.

Oklahoma City bombing was a terrible thing.
9/11 was a terrible thing.
The Boston Marathon bombing was a terrible thing.

Our current jittery propagation of terror is a terrible thing.

May we reach a place where we simultaneously appreciate the selflessness and heroism of those that protect us, while meanwhile refusing to propagate terror.

Further Reading:

How we are all unwitting terrorists (The First Casualty, April 24, 2013)
This Is What It Looks Like When the Police Shut Down a City (The Atlantic Wire, April 19, 2013)
Running from Terror in Boston (The First Casualty, April 16, 2013)

Thanks to Jay Pinho for curating many of the links in this post.


4 Responses to “What I Decided about Terror”

  1. Para muestra un botón, Check this short story written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    “Something really bad is going to happen in this town”


    I couldn’t find an english version tho…

  2. It must be hard. The visceral reaction to something like this is difficult to control. I think about how a heavy snow fall and intense cold can cause chaos in a city that rarely, if ever, experiences such extreme weather, but the same conditions barely cause a shrug in places that experience them every year.

    That is to say, the first time going through an ordeal will almost always be difficult and have its overreactions. The test is how much is learned from the experience in order to react better to it next time.

    • Thanks for reading!

      Wise comments, especially the analogy to snow.

      My quibble is that we have gone through this before, twelve years ago, and I thought we would have learned our lessons. Especially that lesson, for example, about the need to immediately place blame on some “other” (not “really” American), or that lesson about how it feels to have a paranoid government wiretapping seemingly indiscriminately.

      But alas, we care not too much for these matters, but instead get caught up in the experience of the terror itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s