Boston, Bombings, and Blowback

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Someone identified as Bob S. sent an email reminding me that Boston has been a major funding source of the Provisional IRA for many years, and the weapon of choice for the IRA was the bomb. During the past four decades, numerous people, including many innocent bystanders, were killed by these weapons.

(I add that I do not and have not supported British policies during that time, and that the Ulster Protestant Volunteers also set off bombs that killed people. Many people on both sides have justified these attacks as being legitimate tactics of war, but I for one disagree and say a pox on both their houses.)

My larger point is this: When people see the killing of innocents as being simple “collateral damage” in the process of a “greater good,” they are more likely to engage in the kind of activity that ultimately can come back upon them. Bostonians are rightly outraged at the bombing at the Marathon, but they were willing to send millions of dollars to people who used the same weapons elsewhere, with the same horrible results.

Today, at least according to the official narrative, two Muslim brothers outraged at what U.S. Armed Forces and the CIA are doing in Muslim countries abroad (and all of us should be outraged at U.S. policies there), do essentially the same thing that the IRA and other paramilitary groups have done: set off bombs to kill others and send a message to everyone else. Many Bostonians have believed that the same actions done in Northern Ireland and Great Britain were legitimate, and they were willing to help fund them, even if that meant innocent bystanders were killed or maimed; now Boston’s most visible sporting event has been violated and people ask why it happened and quickly condemn it, but they refuse to see the larger picture.

Wilt Alston in his LRC piece today identifies that “terrorist” attacks often have involved people who could not defeat their occupiers via conventional military means, so they turned to something else. His point, I believe, is correct and for years, the IRA said it was fighting against British occupation of Northern Ireland (not to mention that the Irish have long memories of the past British occupation of the rest of the Emerald Isle as well).

Yet, if that argument were used to legitimize politically the bombs of the IRA, then domestic attacks by Muslims against the country that either bombs or occupies Muslim nations would have to be seen in that same category. People cannot have this both ways. We cannot wash the blood off our hands by using the blood of innocents.

7:32 am on April 25, 2013
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