Boston Marathon bombings – the questions that start with the word ‘Why’

Boston MarathonWhen one gets over the initial shock upon hearing of a far away disaster like the most recent one that hit the illustrious Boston Marathon yesterday, the next mental step taken by most of us helpless bystanders is to search for meaning in what is very likely to be regarded as a senseless tragedy.

First we ask: Why? Why do people do such things?

As of the available information on the incident at the time of this writing, officials have no answers and no suspects — at least none they would like the public to be aware of at the moment. The intent of whoever perpetrated this abominable act seems evident as the explosives were apparently detonated where and when they were likely to exact the most casualties. The perps obviously wanted to kill people. Perhaps, like the 2001 terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City, because the target was another storied American cultural icon, it is natural to assume that the usual suspects are behind this attack — Arab terrorists or “patriotic” extremist Right-wing domestic terrorists.

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For now nobody knows. Even if we find out who did it, we, at best, will be able to answer the question only halfway. The more important question of why people are so talented at finding a rationale within their respective belief systems to justify killing other people will likely to remain forever lacking a convincing answer.

Next we ask why some disasters seem to matter more than others.

Under the politically-correct premise that loss of human life is “equally” tragic across cultures, geography and social class, the fact is, death and destruction in America makes lots of news and elicits lots of reaction. Distasteful as it may at first sound to suggest this at this very moment, the fact is it certainly is so and cannot be denied.

Fairly or unfairly (perhaps thanks — or no thanks — to the character of their media) Americans are perceived by many to harbour a particularly acute horror for loss of life relative to other cultures. But in the simple fact of how much Americans raise a stink about senseless death and destruction is an indication of how much they value life and celebrate it.

You can find this in the impressive measures Americans have put in place presumably from what they had learned from almost a decade and a half of experiencing and living under the threat of terrorism. According to one report America had spent “billions of dollars to train emergency responders […], and build and maintain an enormous apparatus designed to respond to events like Monday’s…”

Ambulances, fire trucks, and dozens of marked and unmarked police cars filled Boston’s streets; their sirens formed a pulsing, unrelenting, almost nauseating Doppler sound pattern. In Boston Common, the city’s main public park, squadrons of men in fatigues and berets lined up in formation with assault rifles on their shoulders, as helicopters swarmed overhead, and an armored Humvee idled nearby—all assembled within 90 minutes of the explosions.

In a sense, the outrage felt by Americans over their tragedies — whether they be big ones or small ones (if there even is such a thing as a difference between the two) — in the unique way that it ripples across the world’s television, radio, and social media networks is commensurate to how exceptionally damned hard their security forces try to serve and protect their citizens.

Lastly, we might ask why we Filipinos should care.

Why indeed should Filipinos care about a tragedy that claimed the lives of just three people and injured a hundred odd of them when thousands of their compatriots far more routinely die just as senselessly in preventable tragedies year in and year out? Well, if you are sitting there waiting for an answer to that question, then it means you missed the answer inherent to that very question.

* * *

“We will find out who did this, and we will hold them accountable.”
United States President Barack Obama

[Photo courtesy Hamilton Back Clinic.]

33 Replies to “Boston Marathon bombings – the questions that start with the word ‘Why’”

  1. When Glorietta 2 exploded that fateful lunch time back in 2007. The terrorists organizations , sorry freedom fighters from the south could have had a hell of a time filing libel law suits. Granted a lesson many people do not learn is sometimes reputations are well earned.

    1. My wife made a comment today about how remarkably different the American approach to investigating the whole thing is from the local approach to, uh, not really doing that. I’ve noticed a difference now from 2001, and it’s a good thing. Seems like people are a little wiser about how to handle it. Except for Bloomberg News, apparently, who James Fallows was raging at for being sensationalist rumor-mongers most of last night.

    2. I always assumed that Glorietta was a faulty septic gas explosion, not a bomb. I wonder where that investigation went.

    1. Heck… he’ll probably use this event to push for more entitlements and taxes. “If we only give terrorists more entitlements, maybe they’ll be nicer… if we tax the rich more, we can use the money to support the terrorists so they’ll have better things to do in life”. Yeah… right.

    2. Congratulations, you’re only about the 100th smartass I’ve read today trying to stretch the context into making a weak political complaint.

      1. That’s true. It’s more Rahm Emanuel’s style.

        “You don’t ever want. Do I’m crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”

        And MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who’s been implying that the bombings were an attack on the Democratic Party because of explosion at the JFK Library.

        1. Sorry that quote should read

          “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”

  2. this attack on U.S. citizens inside the U.S.A. is going to be used as a means to an end. In other words aa an excuse to clamp down further upon the basic civil liberties of the U.S. citizen as provided for in the Bill of Rights section of the U.S. Constitution.
    Whoever did it and for what reason they did it is almost immaterial as to what the aftermath will be like. Anyone tried boarding an aircraft in the U.S.A. in the last 10 years? nothing but a headache!

  3. ‘Americans value life’,REALLY? is this a fact that the author knows to be true?
    the exact opposite argument could be made that America, the state anyway, does not value life all that much,yes?
    How could a country that has allowed 40,000,000 abortions (that is a lot of zero’s and even more unborn children) to be legally performed inside its borders in the last 40 yrs. pretend to put a high value on life? in an almost bizzare way it could be said that America is more a ‘culture of death’ than any sort of celebration of life. All you have to do is watch network television inside the states on a nightly basis, and count the dead un-born children, to know this to be true.
    Why any Filipino would give a shit about bombs exploding in Boston is beyond me. A fascination of the morbid maybe?

        1. HA! HA! HA! u think u affect me? U r just a dip-shit! no one cares what I think, but at least I know it! unlike others, Sonny-boy, who think their opinion somehow matters! U make me laugh!

        2. Nope. I was convinced the first time I saw your overly verbose off-topic rants that you were a vulgar, deluded imbecile. The fact that you keep responding proves you are affected. Always need to get the last word in.

    1. ‘How could a country that has allowed 40,000,000 abortions (that is a lot of zero’s and even more unborn children) to be legally performed inside its borders in the last 40 yrs. pretend to put a high value on life?’

      …er…you make it sound like this is only exclusive to the US when the Philippines has a estimate of 560,000 cases of illegal induced abortions…not dashing your beliefs,just saying…

      1. I had no idea.but it does not surprise me. It appears that the Philippines, with its anti-abortion laws, actually values the un-born more than the U.S.A..

        1. …I’m not sure about that either…least when the US performs legal abortion on the mothers,whatever the case may be,the unborn are kept frozen,when these mothers perform a induced abortion on themselves,these fetuses wind up in garbage sites and trash cans likes garbage,that doesn’t sound like value at all…abortion moralities aside,I mostly pointed that out because I don’t quite get how that justifies 3 people dead and injuring some others,some of the runners in that marathon were filipino you know,and then theres the bystanders that were filipinos that were near the site’s explosions,I’m certain the families of those bystanders and runners would be concerned for their well-being…but apparently because a country practices certain privelages than others,I suppose that means such concern is unneccessary yes?

        2. IDK how the fetuses are disposed of in either country.

          the part of your last post that states:”how does that justify”…I am not exactly sure what you mean.
          There is no justification for this act of cowardice in Boston.whether any of the dead/injured were Filipino’s doesn’t matter, they are people. One good thing about the U.S.A.,in principle everyone is treated the same.

  4. Common sense and simple human decency require that we do not use tragedies such as this to make lame political statements. Getreal ought to be better than this. Some of the commentators should raise their bars higher and avoid making political cheap shots and speculations.

      1. Your response doesn’t even make any sense. What difference does it make whether it’s a blog or a law journal?

        1. a blog is a place where anyone with a fake e-mail address, pseudonym or alias can post an opinion. However meritorious or repulsive that opinion may be. do you need to be told what a reputable newspaper(ny times, Harvard law review) is? or what standards they have and must be adhered to?

          Do you ever wander why the people here on this blog use aliases? or only first names? because it is a blog, an invention of the internet. who wrote what can not be ascertained. e-mails are not admissible in most courts for that reason.

          if you are offended by my post, get over it! it was not directed at you and in no way meant to demean or belittle what happened in Boston. Those douchebags that did that will be caught and hopefully murdered before they even get to trial.
          btw, do you think Benigno is his real name? or whoever benigno is lives in the Philippines?

  5. If americans really had a more “accute” sense of loss of life they would do something more substantial about their gun laws. From my perspective they actually have a less accute horror at the loss of life than many cultures. They certainly as a nation show more concern for the loss of american lives as opposed to other lives. What is more evident than anything is the power and reach of american media dominance…worldwide.

    1. well, yes…the media gives an impression that is not what is really going on with ‘the people’.but who cares about them?

    2. There’s some truth to that. We’re certainly given the impression that American lives are somehow more important than the lives of others. I’m not going to say that the American media is singularly guilty of this nor if its wholly intentional. The Boston Marathon bombing gets plenty of airtime on other news outlets from other countries.

      Almost the same day as the Boston Marathon bombing happened are the bombings in Iraq, which has killed more than 50 people and injured hundreds. Yet we don’t hear about the latter as much as we hear about the former.

  6. Any bomb detonations targeting people are considered acts of terrorism. The fact that terrorists used the Boston Marathon as a target shows that they did not care whether US citizens and/or foreign nationals were present in the event. Bottom line is they were targeting not only US citizens but the free world. The use of pressure cooker bombs stuffed with ball bearings and other shrapnel shows that whoever planned and designed this explosive bombs deviated from the standard cellphone IED’s. The demonic, simplistic/cheap design of the IED bombs with timers is a chilling shift in the war on terrorism. Why were they not detected? Was there complacency or carelessness that led to the tragedy? Did the pressure seals prevent sniffer dogs from detecting the cheap explosives within?

  7. The USA should re-examine its SOP’s in such sporting events. Searches and detection methods should be upgraded. Knapsacks and carry bags should be disallowed in the routes taken. Strategic area CCTV’s and foot patrols should be well trained to detect containers that could act as bomb casings at the same time.

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