Yes, Please. Let’s Keep Calm.

NEW SLAUGHTERBad things have always happened, and always will. Even in a place as “exceptional” as the United States.

I think the majority of the public understands this on both an intellectual and emotional level. Something terrible could happen to any of us at any moment. Such is as life on this planet has always been. If not some meat-eating predator, it could be a drunk in the on-coming lane, or an over-armed psycho blasting away in a movie theater, or someone planting bombs on a public sidewalk as people cheer on a marathon race.

But as a counterpoint to the usual media response to these events, respected security expert/blogger/Twin Cities resident (last time I checked) Bruce Schneier has it pretty much right in his AtlanticWire post on the Boston attack. In part, he says:

“We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators’ hands — and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don’t have to be scared, and we’re not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there’s one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized.

It’s hard to do, because terrorism is designed precisely to scare people — far out of proportion to its actual danger. A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random — in this case involving an innocent child — senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact
But our brains are fooling us. Even though this will be in the news for weeks, we should recognize this for what it is: a rare event.

… Terrorism, even the terrorism of radical Islamists and right-wing extremists and lone actors all put together, is not an “existential threat” against our nation. Even the events of 9/11, as horrific as they were, didn’t do existential damage to our nation. Our society is more robust than it might seem from watching the news. We need to start acting that way.

The key line, for my purposes here is, “… from watching the news”.

Based on the response from “the media”, primarily television news, you’d be forgiven if you thought the whole country had gone into a fetal tuck, shaking uncontrollably at the heretofore unimagined thought of our defenselessness and vulnerability. Within minutes of the attack the tone shifted, as it always does when these things happen, to eulogizing the victims and lionizing “the heroes”, usually the cops and first responders. Lacking sufficient resources to report anything more than press conferences and the opinions of experts,  the TV news game — cable news in particular — fills it’s non-stop coverage with the simple-minded recitation that what has happened is “horrific” and recitations of the bravery of everyone involved, including the entire surrounding metropolitan area. It’s all meant to be feel-good and reassuring. A demonstration of common sympathy and comradeship ….if you’re paralyzed with fear.But it is too over-wrought and sweepingly generalized to be meaningful.

Moreover, the incessant tone of bland commiseration could very well have the opposite effect. Might it not suggest to the most impressionable that the world really is spinning out of control and that their very existence is in peril? I mean, if our savvy, worldly news readers are as freaked out and in a 24/7 hand-holding bedside mode, things must be pretty damned bad, right?

And while I’m at it, the various female correspondents for network news organizations should consider some kind of a gender discrimination suit against their employers. Are the women specifically assigned the task of asking the most treacly, emotion-baiting questions? To first responders, Boston officials, etc.: “Was the scene the worst you’ve ever witnessed”? “How did you feel when you saw that young boy?” “Are you impressed with the way Boston has come together?”

As I say, having no real resources to advance the story of who did this, the default news position is to play professional empath for a “wounded” audience.

Rather than holding and wringing hands, this crowd would serve a far more valuable service by regularly noting how rare these sorts of things are, especially in the United States. And how remarkable it is that given the simplicity of these sorts of bombs and the openness of our society this hasn’t happened since 9/11.

It’s a tragedy, yes. Like a car accident, or any of the 3000 gun killings since Newtown (our own self-inflicted form of terrorism). True, this one is of a different type and comes with an added level of mystery. But it is no greater threat to our existence.

105 thoughts on “Yes, Please. Let’s Keep Calm.

  1. bertram jr. says:

    You almost had it, Lambo. Then you couldn’t help yourself:

    “or any of the 3000 gun killings since Newtown…”

    Guns don’t kill people, nor can you “kill” a gun. Murderers (criminals) kill people, some use guns to do it, others use knives, hammers, rope, etc.

    YOUR personal and well documented fear of guns does not in itself absolve you of a correct assignation of who someone is killed by.

    Stop, like Austin, blaming the tool!

    By the same logic, and sickeningly relevant today, you would call for an end to being able to own ball bearings and nails.

    What we have in Boston is terrorist killing, not ball bearing or crock pot killing.

    Get it?

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      By your private reasoning, BJ, you’d prefer the bombers had ready access to better-quality explosives than mere gun powder, like C4, with no paperwork, one assumes, because criminals will just get C4 anyway, explosives don’t kill people, people kill people. Do you have any opinions not on loan from talk radio?

      Meanwhile, rest up your lips and give this a read when you can manage it:

  2. bertram jr. says:

    “Law enforcement, big-city mayors and security experts all echoed that famous post-terrorism refrain: ‘If you see something, say something.’ But who really means it? In post-9/11 America, the truth is that our politically correct guardians only want you to see, say or do something if it can’t be construed by grievance-mongers as racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic, nativist or any other ‘-ist’ or ‘-ic.’ Face it: We live in a self-defeating culture that pays lip service to heroic action in times of crisis, yet brutally punishes the very kind of snap judgments and instant security profiling that make such heroism possible in the first place. … I would rather be damned if I do than dead if I don’t.” –columnist Michelle Malkin

  3. Minnesotan says:

    I have nothing to add, just an important update that CNN has reported an arrest has been made. Let’s hope they’ve found the right person(s) who were responsible for this.

  4. Schreiner or Schneier? If it is the former, I can’t find him anywhere. If it is the latter, he is a computer and technology security expert. I find it interesting that he uses the term “right wing” terrorists, as if all the groups that have used bombs have been “right wing.” Were all the loons and crackpots back in the 1960s and 1970s who protested with bombs “right wing” or left wing kooks who used violence as a form of social protest?
    I think I’ll take my cue on behavior from someone other than a computer security “expert” who seems to have an agenda.

    Bertram, don’t waste your breath. It is axiomatic among the more loony wing of the liberal ideology that guns are evil, those possessing them are ignorant rednecks and that all of us who have them need to be constantly supervised.

    In the mass hysteria over gun legislation, one immutable fact remains. All the background checks in the world aren’t going to keep deranged fools from getting a gun and killing people.

    Background checks are for those who are sane, have a clean record, and play by the rules by even applying for a gun….like, well, me.

    Those who don’t want to follow the system, have something to hide and have evil intent, won’t bother buying a gun legally. I’m all for keeping guns out of the hands of whack jobs, but you are kidding yourselves if you think tougher background checks is going to make much of a difference.

    How about we start with trying to stop glorifying violence? Let’s speak out against the crazy movies and shows the entertainment industry pushes and crap killing video games….no, not ban them, but start addressing them.

    The bully pulpit of the presidency would be a nice place to start, but God forbid the current president would want to offend the entertainment business….better politics to try to restrict the tool rather than the root cause. That might piss off too many campaign donors.

      1. Erik says:

        Schneier is a cryptologist and a statistician with a specialty in risk assessment. Labeling him a security expert is not incorrect but it’s contextual stretch.

        With Ezra though, he say’s don’t be afraid of terrorism, be afraid of…global warming. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

        1. Yeah, I’m freezing my ass off and pissing my pants in fear at the same time over global warming…..or is it climate change? Don’t worry about cancer, heart disease, auto accidents, falling off your roof or any of the more likely causes of dying prematurely.

          Be afraid of global warming. Schneier takes all the warm and fuzzy out of the word dingbat.

          1. Jim Leinfelder says:

            Mike, seriously, that’s your take on climate change, if it’s not an immediate threat to your own health and safety, who cares?

            1. No, Jim. I don’t have a “take” on global warming. I don’t dispute the earth might be warming. Will it end life and destroy the earth? I have no clue and now we are moving from what is known….warming…to predicting far into the future, which I don’t think anyone is very good at. Furthermore, I have a healthy dose of skepticism that until we can predict basic weather patterns more than a week out (which we can’t), I’m totally baffled how we can predict weather and the environment decades or centuries forward.

              Do I think we should “fear” global warming? No. I don’t choose to live my life in fear at any level. If I did, I wouldn’t fly, repel, surf, or even leave my place. Is warming a concern. Yes. Along with cancer, violence, accidents, drunk driving etc.

              That, my friend, is my “take.”

            2. Jim Leinfelder says:

              But you grouped it in with all those dissimilar ways of dying from physical trauma, such as you falling off your roof. Who, exactly, do mean to be refuting with this line of reasoning, to be more generous than, take, or pose? Who is arguing that global climate change is an imminent threat to anyone in particular similar to, say, falling off your roof. Stay off your roof, that problem solved.

            3. flyirish says:

              You seem as if you enjoy going a long way for a drink of water. The aforementioned security expert warned us not to be afraid of violence fom bombing but that if we are going to be afraid of anything, be afraid of global warming. My point was to fear none of it. The world is full of risks…some imminent, some in the future. Some may come to pass, some may not. If I were the fearful type, there are many things I’d fear before global warming….the roof was a bad example, I’ll give you that.

      2. PM says:

        Just saw Fox News engage in that identical contextual stretch–“security expert” Schneier.

        Must be so, if Faux News says so.

        1. PM: Say it ain’t so!!! You watching Fox News is like me watching MSNBC, which I sometimes check out. People who are available and promote themselves tend to get branded as an “expert.” Erik is right on. It IS a contextual stretch. He’s talking about the psychology of people. Now he has waded into different territory….is he a trained psychologist, psychiatrist, neuro expert or even counselor? In addition, security expert is like calling me a financial expert, maybe in some areas, but not nearly all.

        2. PM says:

          But…but…but…you’re not a financial expert?
          say it ain’t so!!!!


          when are we getting together for lunch next? I am putting my money on global warming, and i say we wait at least until the snow is gone!

          1. flyirish says:

            Lunch? Did someone say lunch? I’m ready for that any time. I hope this more recent winter blast is short lived. Should be interesting in the metro today. Glad we are not meeting today!

    1. Now that the most recent gun legislation seems to have hit the skids…stopped in its tracks by….gasp, Democratic defectors in the Senate, I wonder how long it will take Mr. Obama to blame his failed policies on Republicans….oops, think he might have already. Those pesky, bastard obstructionists…..residing in his own party.

      1. Erik says:

        Your point is an ironic one, I know. But the problem isn’t the obstructionists. The problem is gun controllers are dumb. Morons.

        1. Jim Leinfelder says:

          You sell guns on line, or products related to guns, right, Erik? So your concern is mainly your little side business. But meanwhile, on line, there’s this:

          You’re sanguine about this? Why, so you can make a few bucks to augment your salary? How does that inform any reasonable person’s judgment on limiting access to guns for people who should not have ready access to them.

          1. Erik says:

            It’s a person to person sale, which is not subject to the dealer requirement that buyers be instachecked. That these people meet via the internet is tangental. The might as well be meeting by a bulletin board ad. Same dif.

            I don’t think it’s an earnest question on your part Jim, and as you might imagine I’d be recalcitrant in my position anyway. To the extent it’s worthwhile, here’s some background. Serious people who sell off the local Armslist boards do well to verify that buyers have their permit to purchase or permit to carry. Ya figure, meeting to sell a gun to a stranger produces some anxiety anyway. Imposing a doc requirement on the buyer alleviates some of that anxiety, and assures the seller he will not find himself liable for some negligence in the future.

            I find Armslist kind of gauche. Guys that trade there are too young and too dumb for me. When I want to sell something, I sell it on Gunbroker, where the expectation is that you’re going to sell to a buyer out of state, and the gun will have to be shipped to the purchasers dealer.

            I am not in the business of selling guns. I sell an accessory that is very benign, FWIW.

          1. Erik says:

            My side won yesterday. Your side was defeated. There’s nothing I am obliged to “have at”.


          2. Minnesotan says:

            What did you like about it PM?

            Wasn’t the brilliance of the Bill of Rights the understanding that the world would change, but those rights were to always be protected?

            You brought up the idea of censorship in a previous thread. Surely when the Bill of Rights was written they didn’t anticipate computers, the Internet – or that could practice their freedom of speech by creating a video and creating a website where their message would be visible to the entire world in a matter of seconds.

            Communication has changed, shouldn’t our 1st Amendment Rights?

            1. PM says:

              I happen to believe in a “living” constitution, as opposed to Scalia’s ideas concerning that document. Yes, we should change our interpretation of the constitution in light of current conditions. For example, i am opposed to slavery, and i think that women should be allowed to vote, and that there should be universal voting for all citizens over the age of 18…..just to note a few things where we, as a society, have made changes since 1789.

              FWIW, the constitution clearly envisioned that gun rights were to be subject to regulation. And we already do so, by making it illegal for felons to own guns. That is not considered an infringement of their second amendment rights. So the right of people to keep and bear arms is not unlimited. The question is where those limits should be. Most people (90% in one recent poll) support universal background checks. i expect that we will get there eventually.

            2. Minnesotan says:

              I think we’ll have universal background checks someday too – and I expect it to have a microscopic impact on curbing gun violence.

              As long as we’re chewing on polls and statistics, here are some interesting ones to put on the menu:

              In a Quinnipiac poll that mentions the 90+% support for background checks:

              • More people say the NRA better reflects their views on guns than President Obama (46% to 43%)

              • Support for stricter gun control laws was lower in February 2013 (52%) than in July 2008 (54%). More opposed stricter gun laws as well.


              In a Gallup Poll released this week, when asked what was the most important issue facing the country today, gun control was far down the list at just 4% – falling behind the economy, the deficit, healthcare, ethical/moral/family decline, just to name a few.


              I take every poll with a grain of salt – but it would appear things are quite complicated when it comes to America and gun issues.

        1. It’s okay Brian, because the last time I took you seriously was the first time I read you….It was all downhill after that. I could take every column you have ever written and recycle it…..into the next one, and no one would know the difference.

            1. Yes. I absolutely want my name attached to my opinions!! I’m every bit as big of an egomaniac as you are. That’s probably the only way we are similar.

  5. Minnesotan says:

    Apparently now CNN is reporting an arrest has not been made, despite claiming the opposite. I’m sure CNN will report something else before this message gets reviewed and approved.

  6. Yikes, Brian, such astute, gripping logic. I never thought of it quite like that…..being scared is a victory for the terrorists. You would have to go all the way back to George Bush and 9/11 to hear something this new and innovative on thinking about security and psychology. How about a big, DUH? from the gallery. Good grief. Tell us something we don’t know. Of course, people react with fear to such a thing. The primitive part of our brain is hard-wired from the factory to behave as such…and no amount of enlightened “security” expertise is going to change that. It’s why people panic when markets fall, when the phone rings at 3 a.m., when someone approaches them in a dark alley and on and on. And I’m not a neuro scientist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

      1. No, what I’m tired of reading is the obvious. Who doesn’t know they shouldn’t panic? Do we really need a “security expert” telling us this? I read stories like this every time there is an attack. This is news? That, is my point.

  7. Minnesotan, one of my best friends…. a retired FBI agent who has been in on many terrorism investigations over a 25 year career, tells me he was shocked how much the media got wrong over the years. It goes without saying that there are many rumors and factual errors in stories like this.

    1. PM says:

      Part of that is the media feeding frenzy. There must be 1,000’s of reporters in Boston to cover the story, and nothing to differentiate between any of them, because all of the accurate stuff comes from a single source. So they all try to do something (anything) to separate themselves from the pack, which means taking all sorts of risks….

      I’m not clear if it is the public that should keep calm, or the media….

  8. Newt says:

    Obama has issued an APB for the bombing suspect – and the media has America searching for a suspect whose race is known, but unmentionable. How fucking pathetic has our government and media become? We’re doomed.

    And where was the media’s caution with George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin fame)? What a joke.

      1. Newt says:

        You’ve got a lot of nerve asking what my point is, Brian. Your posts read like Theodore Kaszinski manifestos.

        1. Newt, you’re teasing us. Lay it out. I really want to hear it. Something about the black guy president and liberal media refusing to identify the darkie perps? Am I right?

            1. Jim Leinfelder says:

              I still think you guys should require people use their actual names to comment here. And THIS is a perfect illustration for why.

            2. PM says:


              I think that it is better to allow people to make complete and total fools of themselves. What better way to discredit fallacious and spurious (and even reprehensible) political views than to expose them?

            3. Jimmy: We may yet go that way. Joe is doing it over at his site. Or at least he’s requiring the lamest of the trolls to register their names with him in order to get “approved”. What’s funny to read are the convoluted, ersatz constitutional rationales they spew out to avoid … putting their names to their arguments … you know, kind of like what we do when we write this stuff. (Kudos to Mike for at least having the cojones to step and admit authorship of his stuff).

              But it’s not like we all don’t get “gutless”. From our end what’s perversely satisfying is the implicit concession that they’d be ashamed to be associated with what they say.

            4. Jim Leinfelder says:


              It’s been my impression that using an anonymous blogonym is done to specifically to protect obnoxious posters from public humiliation. So I don’t really follow your argument.

            5. PM says:

              Its pretty simple, really.

              If people use a “blogonym” in order to protect themselves from public protection (your apparent assumption), then they must be afraid of public exposure of their not publicly accepted/sanctioned views, so forcing them to use their real name would lead to them not expressing their real views, and they would never know just how wrong/out of step their views really are. Further, we would be in danger of not knowing just how misguided/bizarre the views held by some people might be.

              Bottom line, i think that forcing people to “out” themselves might reduce the likelihood that you will take offense at some things they say, but if this is successful (which i doubt) then you are simply depriving yourself of accurate information in order to keep your feelings from being hurt.

              So, I think you just need to buck up, boyo.

            6. PM: The problem is that once we establish the bizarre, uneducated, irrational, illogical and plain old knuckleheaded … what’s the point? At some point we reach a tipping point for tedium.

            7. Erik says:

              With Lambert the only active writer here at SRC, we reached the tipping point for tedium some time ago.

            8. PM says:

              But Erik, Lambert seems to be what keeps YOU engaged here, tedium or not.

              Look, you may not like him, and he clearly writes provocative things from time to time (just look at the various posts–his often garner far more comments than the others), but the one thing that you can not attribute to him is tedium.

              Call him an ass, call him a fool, call him wrong, but you can’t seriously call him tedious. (otherwise you’d be long gone)

            9. Jim Leinfelder says:

              PM, unless you want to man up and use your own name, then I’d appreciate you do me the courtesy of not indulging in the condescending cheek of calling me, “boyo.”

            10. PM says:

              sorry, boyo.

              seriously, have you no sense of humor? Life is too short to go around taking offense at everything.

            11. Priscilla Montague says:

              but my larger point is how do you plan on enforcing your policy to get people to post under their real name? Are you going to insist on meeting them in person and checking their Minnesota drivers liscence? It is so easy to get different e-mail addresses, and different web identities, that your quest for people to “man up” seems more and more like that of Don Quixote.

              If someone wants to get around it, they can. And they can be just as offensive as they want, while still following the rules.

              I think that all you’ll do is drive people off.

            12. PM: You are of course correct. The “real name” thing is easily dodged, if someone is determined to never be associated with anything they say. That’s pretty basic human nature. “i don’t want anyone I know to know I’m saying this”.

              The alternative is simply culling out the people … you’d never invite to a party, never spend more than 30 seconds talking to on a street corner and avoid like a debilitating virus if you saw them come through the door. Some people add nothing and, as we’ve said many times before, drive away those with whom we would like to have a conversation. … and I’m NOT talking about you. It isn’t the anonymity so much as what you do with the anonymity.

              So … some changes are going to be made.

          1. PM: Just sarcasm…..given the fact the president always blame the “evil” GOP for anything he doesn’t get. In all seriousness, however, I do find the fact that Hollywood is outraged that the gun legislation didn’t pass….what a bunch of tools…hypocrites and general idiots. I can count on one hand anyone from Hollywood that makes any sense, but then when you do fantasy for a living, you tend to live in a fantasy world, I guess.

          2. Newt says:

            (Napolitano is asking for the public’s help to find the suspects, but she won’t publicize the images, which she characterized as “very clear.” Wow – no disconnect there. Let’s not offend the killers.)

            From the Boston Globe …

            It was unclear why authorities did not publicize images of the unidentified suspects yesterday. President Obama is visiting Boston today, and the timing of a law enforcement briefing remained unclear.

            Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified today before a congressional committee that some of the video collected from near the Boston Marathon finish line had raised questions.

            She said there were “individuals” the FBI would like to speak to. “I wouldn’t characterize them as ‘suspects’ under the technical term. But we need the public’s help in locating these individuals,” she said.

            1. Erik says:

              Yes…. But these guys are going to end up being anonymous, blac bloc-ers, or other ersatz Occupiers. There’s no way they are righties, so the fact they are white is not going to be any consolation to the progressive movement.

            2. PM says:

              Sorry, Erik, but you are apparently wrong again. Not ersatz Occupiers in any way shape or form.

              Why is it that you and Newt simply can not resist letting your wild assumptions (his about race, yours about liberals and Occupiers) run riot? Your prejudices (which you are apparently keen to display) demonstrate a regular lack of judgement and discretion on your part.

              Seriously, why don’t you just take a chill pill from time to time and wait and see what the reality is before putting your foot so far down inside your mouth? Neither you nor Newt seem capable of that.

            3. Erik says:

              Meh. I was merely reacting to the widespread hope that these guys would be tea partiers. Having seen the photos Thursday night, I just knew these guys were not righties.

            4. PM says:

              Well, how should we classify them on our (American) all purpose scale of left and right?

              Let’s make a couple of assumptions first–that they are Chechen separatists/independence fighters, and that they are muslim fundamentalists (both of which might well be off base, I know).

              So if they are Chechens who are fighting for their independence from the Russians, they are patriots, right? We all know that patriotism is a value of the right, and that those of the left are not patriots at all, right?

              And if they are muslim fundamentalists, they are by definition highly religious and devout, again, values of the right? In fact, the opposite of those godless athiests of the left.

              So maybe they are conservatives!

              just speculating, of course.

  9. “Freedom isn’t free” is a phrase mostly invoked in response to the death or injury of a member of the military and that is absolutely correct: their sacrifice is one of the ways we preserve our freedoms.

    But, it also applies to us. One of the costs of freedom is that we accept the risk that comes from living in a (mostly) free society. I think one of the sins of the George W. Bush administration was encouraging us to think otherwise. No only did it serve to separate us from the military and their families who quite definitely understand the full meaning of that phrase, it also made it easier to delude ourselves the post-9/11 erosion of our civil liberties was cost-free. It wasn’t. We’ve paid for our peace of mind – and a modicum of actual security – with a coin that is very precious and not easily replaced.

    In my simple-minded view of the world the proper response to the terrorism of Monday is to make sure that next year’s marathon has more runners, more spectators and more participation than ever. Fuck you whoever’s responsible.

    – Austin

    1. Actually, that was good, AND a good corrective to what I’m talking about. I saw you hype it on the 6 but then got pulled away from TV for the rest of the night. Good job. But, alas, the exception that proves the rule.

  10. Great post. Couldn’t agree more.

    “The default news position is to play professional empath for a “wounded” audience.” TV news has long been bad on this front, and now Facebook and Twitter empathizing and memorializing magnifies, prolongs and personalizes the collective sense of #victimhood and #fear.

    An “if a tree falls in the forest” question: If there had been no videotape of the blast to replay ad nauseum, how much less coverage would there be? Lots less. And if there wasn’t nearly as much news coverage, how much less fear would there be about the event? The point: An effective terrorist better be aware of security camera locations.

  11. Here’s a bit more on Schneier … this time from Gawker …


    In an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, author and security expert Bruce Schneier said the appropriate response to terrorist violence is to face it fearlessly: “If you are scared, they win. If you refuse to be scared, they lose, no matter how much carnage they commit.”

    President Obama echoed the cliche on Tuesday, in his second speech on the Boston attacks, saying Americans “refuse to be terrorized,” and that we we will respond to this latest blow “selflessly, compassionately, not afraid.”

    Unfortunately, as is the case with most of our political platitudes, fewer Americans than one would like are living up to the ideals touted in our impassioned speeches. Heroes are never in short supply in a catastrophe, of course, but neither are cowards and egoists and creeps who have decided to wallow in melodrama and fear, restless miserablists whose only mile-markers in life are the tragedies that have befallen them. Enough.

    … Our media, the people who are supposed to analyze and explain the contours of disaster when it strikes, has been as hamfisted in its coverage as anyone who lunges at the first Arab he sees in time of crisis. While some outlets like the New York Post were reporting total falsehoods, Alex Jones used his pedestal to pawn off more of his emotionally unstable ramblings as political thought. Even the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof took the marathon bombing for his cue to rail against the GOP. All of this was perfectly nauseating, but the worst of the lot was the treacly fearmongering disguised as eulogy.

    In a National Journal piece bearing the leading headline, “Why Boston Bombings Might Be Scarier Than 9/11,” Ron Fournier attempted to make the case that the real collateral devastation of Monday’s bombing is Americans not feeling safe in their private lives anymore. “It’s one thing—a dastardly, evil thing—to strike symbols of economic and military power,” wrote Fournier. “It’s another to hit the heart of America. Death at the finish line in Boston makes every place (and everybody) less secure.” At the end of the piece, after attempting to weave together several disjointed ideas, Fournier throws in this grim and strained non sequitur: “Today, officials identified the 8-year-old boy killed at the finish line. His name was Martin Richard. He left a world unworthy of him.”

    … when will we learn to be wary of the conditioned responses we’ve fallen into the way we’re wary of suspicious packages? When will we stop the fear-baiting and admit that incidents of terrorism are exceedingly rare? When will we stop tackling Arab people at the first sign of trouble, ignoring how alienating that might be to an Arab who previously had no problem with Americans? When will we stop arbitrarily holding violent incidents up to 9/11 to see how the two compare in macabre and stupid thought experiments? When will we stop using dead children to convince everyone they should be scared, because the world is scary? We can talk about fearlessness in the face of violence all we’d like, but as long as we continue doing the above without question, it’s obvious to everyone, terrorists included, that we are scared as all hell.

    Refusing to be frightened, as Bruce Schneier suggests we do, is easy when all that means to you is writing “Pray for Boston” on your Facebook wall or putting up a plaque in honor of the victims.

  12. bertram jr. says:

    Bet there’s a whole bunch of residents in Watertown Mass. who are feeling good about the 2nd Amendment right now. Or changing their position to the right one.

    Bertam’s nephew, a student at BC, is certainly having good reason to evaluate his position. One of his roomie’s Dad is Boston cop #2….

  13. Newt says:

    Brian conveniently leaves out the liberal terrorists, which are considerable in number and dangerous ….

    “… Terrorism, even the terrorism of radical Islamists and right-wing extremists and lone actors…”

      1. Newt says:

        Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorn, Occupy Wall Street, the freaks that were thwarted at the RNC (and DNC) conventions, on an on.

    1. PM says:

      Further, anarchists are not liberals. Nor are communists. Liberal is NOT a synonym for “leftist”

      (sort of like the point that not all conservatives are racists or fascists)

        1. PM says:

          …and a favorite tactic of the right and conservatives, as well. have you been watching those conservatives who oppose immigration reform, who are trying to use this recent Boston bombing as a reason to oppose immigration reform? or some other conservatives who are trying to use it as a means of opposing any limits on gun ownership, etc.?

          Let’s not be selective in making your points about bullshit politicizing, Mike.

          (FYI, right wing extremists are a subset of conservatives, and they generally vote as Republicans, just as socialists would generally vote as Democrats ( there are some that entirely reject democracy and voting, I know). Anarchists do not vote at all, as they reject the voting process (they are opposed to all forms of government). I am not certain what Communists would do, but those that i have known do not vote at all. They also reject the voting process.)

          1. PM: Where are your stats to back up that extremists who commit violence tend to vote Republican….or is this based on an analogy of one or two? What you seem to overlook is that a majority of conservatives favor immigration reform. Just because they don’t agree with liberals on amnesty (which many do, including “conservative” papers like the WSJ), doesn’t mean they oppose immigration. Broad, sweeping generalizations are not your style….that’s why I not only respect your viewpoints but also tend to agree with many of them. Would you like a recitation of all the media who pointed to some possible “tax day” protest as a reason for the bombings….attempting to link right wing extremists to people who oppose higher taxes. In addition, what about all the references to Tea Party members being violent? Based on what? No, linking ideology to violence has been a distinct M.O. of the left. There simply isn’t any way to deny it.

            1. PM says:


              first, please do not selectively edit what i said. I referred to RIGHTWING extremists, and it is simple logic that they are more likely to vote Republican than Democrat because they are RIGHTwing (just as LEFTwing extremists would be more likely to vote Democrat than Republican).

              Second, the point about immigration reform was a reference to your earlier point about people using the Boston bombing as a form of bullshit politicizing–an example of conservative Republicans using the Boston Bombing as an example to oppose the immigration reform bill (lets keep those crazy Chechen bombers out!)

              My point is that you presented the problem of bullshit politicization as something done solely by the left, and that is demonstrably false, and I gave examples. It is also a distinct M.O. of the right.

              My further point (and I think Lambert’s point, although I shouldn’t speak for him) with reference to Newt’s statement about “liberal terrorists” has to do with the meaning of words. Liberal has a specific, historic meaning, and the idea of a “liberal terrorist” is an oxymoron. David Hume was a liberal, as was John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith. The concept of laissez faire is an expression of liberalism.

              Liberalism, particularly as used by today’s conservatives, is ahistoric. Most Republicans today would be classic liberals, as would most Democrats.

              None of that means that there can’t be left wing terrorists, or right wing terrorists, but none of them are liberals. Liberals are committed to the idea of the state, and feel that the state should have a monopoly on the use of legitimate violence. you can not believe in taking judgement into your own hands and be a liberal. And that is what terrorism is–a rejection of the legitimacy of the state (whether it is rejected by the right or by the left)

            2. Newt says:

              PM: “The idea of a ‘liberal terrorist’ is an oxymoron.”

              Then so too is the idea of a “conservative terrorist.”

            3. PM:

              You are making assumptions without facts. It is LIKELY, not proven. Therefore, the left’s obsession with connecting violent people to conservatives is specious at best if not down right malicious.

              You are also quite wrong about liberals not being violent. Check the records. The people I spoke of in earlier posts about bombings in the 1960s and 1970s were most certainly liberal in today’s definition of liberal, as were the liberal environmental groups and animal rights activist groups of more modern times.

              By your logic, I can then say they are more apt to be a subset of the Democratic/liberal party and they tend to vote Democratic.

              However, conservatives in general do not make this kind of connection, nor certainly does the media. It has been a tactic of the left to portray more right of center people as gun freaks, rednecks and violent. Lambert does it on these pages with regularity. Some on these pages have no problem with mass, sweeping generalizations aimed at discrediting any ideas or solutions offered up by the other side.

              It gets old, tiresome and is intellectually dishonest and lazy.

            4. PM:

              My apology on the politicizing. Yes. Both sides engage in it. But only one side links violence to the other in absence of any proof whatsoever, and it’s the left. Plain and simple.

            5. Newt says:

              PM: “‘Liberal’ has a specific, historic meaning,”

              Good point, PM, kind of like “marriage.”

            6. This particular comment thread has prompted a further reconsideration of my thinking on anonymous trolls. Frankly, I’ve heard enough about how tedious the responses are here. This from people whose opinion I’d actually solicit.

              While I concede every writer gets the audience he deserves, this one here is, inarguably, more toxic because the most obsessive and boorish of the trolls are also anonymous.

              So … I at least (*) am moving to a form of “enhanced moderation”, much like our friend Joe Loveland at Wry Wing Politics. You give me your primary valid e-mail address and your real name and you may have a shot at having your thoughts aired here. Lacking that, good bye and thank you for your participation, but you’re more nuisance than asset.

              Frankly, considering the depth of obsession on display I’m baffled why those being culled don’t just write their own blog? It’s free, last time I checked, and while I’m certain I already know every position they’d take on any issue imaginable, I might check in just to see trolls they attract.

              * Other Rowdies will moderate their posts as they see fit.

      1. PM, I agree with you, but Newt has a point. “Right wing” extremists are not conservatives nor are they Republicans and the idiots and eggheads who make such an assertion are either ignorant or malicious, but wrong either way. Furthermore, associating violent anti abortionists as being connected with conservatives is like associating criminal abortion doctors like Kermit Gosnell with liberals. Let’s stop the bullshit politicizing, which lately has been a favorite tactic of the left and the media.

      2. PM says:

        Sorry, Newt, but none of those would describe themselves as liberals–all would be self described as radicals, and would loathe liberals just as they loathe conservatives.

  14. bertram jr. says:

    @ Loveland: Bertram agrees. Ann Curry became the nadir of this journalism / talking head emoting ad nauseum – emphasis on the nauseum.

    The “news” formula seems set in stone: Show horror clip over and over – then show street-kabuki-like over indulgence in memorializing and “remembrance”.

    I’m so happy that there’s some Minneapolis runners who have decided to run to show their support for the Boston runners- and the Strib will cover it!

    It’s very weird.

  15. bertram jr. says:

    But you see, I posit a correlation: the media is all-in on perpetuating this mass fear and victimhood thing – as a way to enable the “Gub’mint” (copyright Leinfelder) to then be the hero – solving ALL of our “problems”.

    1. PM says:

      Probably the biggest fail was the NY Post– claiming that 12 people were killed, then publishing pictures of random people and implying that they were the bombers, etc.

      Local news there looked pretty good, however,

      BTW, Newt, why is it that all of your examples of media “fail” are ones that portray yourself (and the right) as a “victim” here? I thought that you were the ones that rejected the “victimization” culture?

  16. Newt says:

    I spit out my bourbon watching Andrea Mitchell’s report last night when she said, “Religion may have played a role in the boys’ radicalism.”

    Oh Andrea, and which religion might that be? (Please spare us from the unpleasant facts.)

    Incompetent bimbo.

    1. This is no surprise, as some media trolls have been even more circumspect in connecting the dots than normal. One idiot even openly opined that he hoped the bombers were white males…..well they were, but here’s a news flash……there are many white males who are Muslim. This is an example of where political correctness has led us. Then we had the fools and tools at CNN openly speculating that the violence could have been caused by “right wing” extremists….without any knowledge of anything or anyone. Go figure. No wonder my FBI buddy used to cringe at media reports of terrorism and how much the media butchered the facts.

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