The awful story about bombs exploding near the finish line of the Boston Marathon demonstrates that — unfortunately — we’re probably always going to have to be on the lookout for terrorism here in the United States.
The bombs killed two people, left a number of others in critical condition, and injured more than 100 people. At this point, details about the incident are still sketchy, and it likely will be some time before final information becomes available. Preliminary reports indicate, however, that there were multiple bombs, that they did not include high-grade explosive material, and that there were other devices that failed to explode in what appears to have been a coordinated attack.
As I write this, no organization has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the cowardly, murderous attack. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from speculating about whether the attack was the work of foreign terrorists, or a domestic group, or someone angered by having to pay their taxes. It’s hard to see why a domestic group or anti-tax zealots would target the Boston Marathon, but terrorists aren’t exactly known for their rational thought processes.
The frightening aspect of this attack, viewed from the standpoint of a suburban home in the middle of Ohio, is its terrible randomness. One moment runners and their families and friends are celebrating finishing America’s most famous marathon, and the next people are sprawled in the street, injured and bleeding and dying. It makes you wonder about the security of any large gathering of people, whether it’s a baseball game or a rock concert or a state fair. Of course, the whole idea of terrorism is to make people cower in fear and change their habits — which means the best way for all of us to combat the terrorists is to go about our business, undeterred by the efforts to sow fear.
I’ll try to do that, but I’m sure I’ll be uneasy about it.