Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sigh . . .

I haven't said commented on Monday's terrible event because I wasn't sure I had anything original to say about it, but I feel I should add my endorsement of a few points others have made.

I lived in Boston for more than 20 years, and I worked in the Back Bay neighborhood for 15. I have walked the sidewalk where the bomb exploded hundreds of times. I have eaten in restaurants that had their windows blown out, shopped in the stores, gotten my dental work there. I've watched the marathon from across the street from where the second bomb went off. If I hadn't moved away a little more than a year ago, I likely would have been there. That is the very heart of the city -- the public library, the street where the victory parades and the First Night celebration happen, a big plaza where there are public concerts and the office workers eat lunch on sunny days, some of the city's best restaurants and most famous hotels. It's a big city but it's also a small town. You can easily walk from there to Fenway Park, City Hall and the waterfront, the South End -- Boston's answer to Greenwich Village -- nightlife, the Boston Center for the Arts, the ballet, it's all right there.

Patriots Day is the city's defining festival day. It's a holiday in just one place on earth, Boston, Massachusetts. It's the day the whole city invites the planet for a party that is uniquely Boston, recalling the deepest U.S. history and celebrating the cosmopolitan present of a world city. Whoever did this was out to do a whole lot more than kill and main people. He was out to main Boston.

Well you can forget about that. It's not going to happen. Boston will just get stronger. That said, let me get curmudgeonly about a few things.

First, the corporate media managed to prove, for the millionth time and more powerfully than ever, their utter, profound inanity. CNN ran a banner under Wolf Blitzer all evening proclaiming that the president had not used the word "terror" in his brief remarks, the point being I suppose that they were pre-promoting the expected phony Republican outrage based on the equally phony nothingburger faux "scandal" about the Benghazi incident. Then and still, we do not know whether the perpetrator was following instructions beamed directly into his brain from Alpha Centauri; was carrying out the specific orders of Ayman Al-Zawahiri to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden; or was a Christian Patriot out to punish Boston for being atheist communist Sodom. In the meantime, spending 24 hours a day interviewing yammering pseudo-experts offering data-free opinions on which of the above pertained was a complete waste of electrons.

Second, even though you wouldn't know it from watching your teevee, worse things happen just about every day in various places around the world including two -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- where the U.S.A. bears major responsibility and additional places -- Pakistan and Yemen -- where the U.S. perpetrates much of the violence. In fact, your heroic military murdered 17 Afghan civilians, including 12 children, just last week, meriting a brief note on page 8 of the New York Times. Rachel Maddow doesn't even mention these little incidents. Oh yeah, we didn't mean to blow up a village or a wedding party, it was just a little mistake, sorry, we meant to kill somebody we were pretty sure was a bad guy, because who needs a trial anyway? Just sayin'. But if it happens to us, it's a big deal.

Third, more people are killed and maimed in car crashes in the U.S. every day than on Boylston Street on Monday. And many more people are murdered, all around the country. The impact of this is symbolic; this is the social amplification of an event which is actually not all that important in the overall scheme of things. If you're worried about your safety, stay out of automobiles before you think about avoiding crowds or arresting terrorists. And therefore, obviously, the way to deprive this wacko of any victory is to get on with your life and not to give up any of your freedom in the feckless pursuit of security. The world is somewhat dangerous. Carry on.


Anonymous said...

What is sad to me, Cervantes, is that your words--as carefully chosen as they are--would still be misinterpreted by some people ("Whaddya mean, worse things happen?"). Oh well, their problem. Thanks for the column.

Don Quixote

robin andrea said...

I am so glad to read your very sane words.

roger said...

right on.

Anonymous said...

Well expressed, in my opinion. While ashamed at times to think it, I have also wondered why so much media time is spent repeating the fact we just don't know what happened yet when meanwhile there are atrocities of various kinds going on constantly across the nation and internationally that we choose to ignore. It's rather annoying that one madmen's actions garner so much attention while mass inhumanity is rather commonplace and ignored.