THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

After the bombs exploded Monday at the end of the Boston Marathon, speculation began almost immediately about who had perpetrated this cowardly act.

Though most politicians seemed to shy away from such speculation, the pundit nation was out in full force. Depending on their overall perspective the bombings were attributed…probably…to Muslim terrorists (the go to choice for any accusations of terrorism) or perhaps to some right wing extremists with ties to the Tea Party or militias or even rogue independents building off those groups’ expressed credos. After all it was Tax Day and Patriots Day and there is a sad history of violence attached to these dates in recent U.S. history.

My reaction, which instinctively I knew would be ignored by most everyone, was to post the following on my Facebook wall:

Can the media and everyone else cease speculating on who is responsible for the Boston bombing? The FBI, ATF, Boston Police and I’m sure other more than competent agencies are investigating and such investigations can be a tedious process.All any speculation will accomplish is to inflame sentiment against the parties preseumed to have done this criminal act.Remember after the Atlantic Olympic…s bombing a man named Richard Jewell was publicly deemed a “person of interest” and was hounded beyond belief, though never charged. It then turned out that one Eric Rudolph was the guilty party but it took more nearly two years after the bombing, plus several more bombings, for him to be charged and another five years until he was arrested.
 Be patient.
In reality, or honesty if you prefer, I recognized the possibility that Muslims would be blamed for this act as they are the first people to come to most Americans minds when they learn of a horrific crime that is perceived as terrorism.
 
But the fact is that most of the occasions of mass murder, with far more fatalities than any act of Jihadists other than 9/11, have been performed by home grown, apple pie eating, mom loving, Chevy driving, baseball playing, Christian church going, red-blooded American males. 
 
The difficulty with this speculation, or even the reality if it does develop that Muslims were responsible, is that Muslims will be unfairly targeted who had nothing to do with the crime and no association with the criminals, either personally or philosophically.
 
Especially since 9/11 Americans have proven they don’t give a shit about these facts. Muslims are Muslims and “all of them are dirty murderers”. Doubt me? One has only to recall the well-documented cases of attacks against Muslims or mosques in the years since 9/11. Or…just maybe not so well-documented.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/08/19/a-quiet-campaign-of-violence-against-american-muslims.html
 

…On Aug. 4, teenagers pelted a mosque in Hayward, Calif., with fruit. On Aug. 5, Wade Michael Page murdered six congregants and wounded a police officer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, quite possibly because he thought the Sikhs were Muslim. That same day, a man vandalized a mosque in North Smithfield, R.I. On Aug. 6, a mosque in Joplin, Mo., was burned to the ground. On Aug. 7, two women threw pieces of pork at the site of a proposed Islamic center in Ontario, Calif. On Aug. 10, a man allegedly shot a pellet rifle at a mosque near Chicago while people prayed inside. On Aug. 12, attackers fired paintball guns at a mosque in Oklahoma City, and a homemade bomb filled with acid was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard, Ill. On Aug. 15, assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at the home of a Muslim family in Panama City, Fla.

Except for the Sikh temple attack, little of this has made the national press (other than Salon.com, which has chronicled it well), in part because it doesn’t fit the prevailing media narrative.

 There were other violent acts against innocent Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 and the intervening years are notable for efforts to ban the building of Mosques or to pass laws banning the application of Shariah law.
 
Law enforcement officials are not shy about singling out Muslims for investigation with no probable cause. In fact, the incident that probably led to false reports of an arrest in the Boston bombings is described here.
 

A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html

So unfounded speculation can have real deleterious consequences, especially for those who fit the very broad profile programmed into our minds.

I suppose most folks will continue to postulate on the identity of the guilty varmints in Boston. Frankly I hope they are all wrong and it turns out the bomber was a space alien who made a wrong turn at Venus.

Oh, the “pressure cookers bombs” that were used  are said to have been copied from instructions in a Jihadist publication. Well they were also a topic in the Anarchist Cookbook, published in 1971.

Kinda makes you rethink some assumptions don’t it? At least I hope so.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Comments

  • Little_Minx  On April 17, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    Don’t forget several years ago in the Detroit area, some barfly who was miffed over the success of the Japanese auto industry beat a Chinese-American young man to death on the mistaken assumption that since he was Asian-looking he must be Japanese, and therefore at fault for the demise of America’s auto industry.

  • Richard Wood  On April 18, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    Two quick remarks:

    “So unfounded speculation can have real deleterious consequences, especially for those who fit the very broad profile programmed into our minds.”

    I think that clearly, most reasonable people would agree with that, but I will say, insofar as “broad profiles programmed in our minds” I recall reading (in “New Scientist”, I *think*) about how there are reasons that profiling (used to be called stereotyping, lol) has evolved in us (humans) as a way to quickly assess threats.
    (Some pf this research was done at Pitt, iirc.)

    Not defending, just sayin’.

    Also,

    with respect to “…“pressure cookers bombs”…copied from instructions in a Jihadist publication.”

    and

    “… they were also a topic in the Anarchist Cookbook, published in 1971.”

    This old man remembers when some such publications were pulled from college and university libraries during the Vietnam War years (and 1971 was during that era). In fact, after hearing this, out of curiosity I actually did a search in my college’s main liberry [sic] for such literature, and little turned-up.

    (Can you tell how focused that I was on my studies?)

    I also remember that, in the late seventies or early eighties, there was some controversy about a little-known publication doing an article outlining how a Hydrogen bomb (not an A-Bomb,which is required as the “fuse” for an H-bomb) could be built. (I think that the magazine was just trying to obtain publicity by such a sensational stunt.)

    Looked that up also and read it.

    Truth be told, my impression is that most technically astute groups could fashion an A-bomb, at least small enough to put in a truck. The hardest part, iiuc, is obtaining enough fissionable material and finding machinists good enough to build the hardware.

    • Little_Minx  On April 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      RW, I too seem to recall back in the day hearing that some publication or other had published an article re building an H-bomb, or even lower-tech bombs. Unlike you, I never searched to see if i could find them, however.

    • umoc193  On April 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      Scarlet

      re: yours of 8:46 a.m.

      When I read that about the Anarchist Cookbook I explored further and there is some evidence that the author of it (name escapes me) tried to withdraw it from publication.

      Of course back in those days information like that usually emerged in books whose publishers could ostensibly act responsibly and pull them back. Today’s internet means never having to say you’re sorry.

      Oooops! Perhaps in some cases today’s internet means you are ALWAYS having to say you’re sorry.

  • Devildog  On April 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    I’m not rethinking any of my assumptions, whether I have any or whatever they may be-how about you and yours (if you have any and whatever they may be).

  • Richard Wood  On April 18, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Little_Minx –

    A number of years ago some drunken Pitt football player(s) caused a ruckus in an Oakland *Chinese* restaurant screaming something about “Pearl Harbor”.

    This was in the seventies or eighties, iirc. NOT the forties.

    Idiots.

    • Devildog  On April 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      RS, I hope your not trying to diminish from UMOC’s blog and Minx’s fine reporting by implying that all these perps are mere idiots. Isn’t there a greater thread to all of this than “idiots”?

    • Little_Minx  On April 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      Do you recall if they were disciplined for this?

      • umoc193  On April 18, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        I was not aware of any family problem with identifying their daughter. I hadn’t read any stories about her in detail but I seem to recall quotes from, say her father, speaking how wonderful she was.

        I just don’t know the facts of this matter.

        • Little_Minx  On April 18, 2013 at 1:40 PM

          Early on, the family requested that their daughter not be named in the press.

          One factor (which might’ve changed family members’ minds) was that reportedly her friends back in China “outed” her by blogging/tweeting/etc. in her memory.

      • Devildog  On April 18, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        See, minx, this is a little of what I meant. Your question implies that you think they should have been disciplined. If so, I say-lighten up and get a life.

  • Anonymous  On April 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    lol.

    I meant the Pitt athletes in the incident that I mentioned were idiots.

  • Anonymous  On April 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    I don’t recall if they were disciplined.

    Of course, that may have been the Jackie Sherrell days.Discipline may have been watching a bull be castrated.

  • Anonymous  On April 18, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Today’s internet?
    Yeah, after you hit the return key, it’s there for posterity.
    Better clear your cache, also.

  • Little_Minx  On April 19, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    Tourist, your thoughts?

    “An ascendant Japan would boost U.S. interests”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/stronger-japan-would-boost-us-interests-in-asia/2013/04/18/1da42a3c-a2bf-11e2-82bc-511538ae90a4_story.html

Please give me your thoughts.

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