The Boston Marathon Bombings and a Manhunt

Boston and the surrounding suburbs have been essentially shut down today for the manhunt of the remaining Boston marathon bombing suspect. I know I have readers in that area—please stay safe everyone! This sort of manhunt doesn’t happen all that frequently, and every time it does it makes me appreciate the role law enforcement plays in our society. My thoughts go out to the fallen officer.

Between the Boston marathon bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion, I’ve been glad that we don’t have a TV in our home (we have netflix and watch TV shows online)—I’m glad to be avoiding what I’m sure is wall to wall reporting on these tragedies. But I’ve also been impressed with humankind’s resiliency—when terrible things happen, we pick ourselves up, reach out a hand to others, and move forward through our pain.

Ever since the bombing on Monday I have been careful not to jump to conclusions about who the perpetrator(s) might be. It seems a lot of people immediately assumed that it was Islamic terrorism, but the reality is that there were lots of different sorts of people who might do something like this and lots of different motives for it. We have our own domestic terrorism problem, after all—Timothy McVeigh anyone?—and even foreign terrorism wasn’t something invented by Al Qaeda. Details are starting to emerge regarding the suspected shooters—it is being reported that they are Chechen—but it will take time for the full motives to come out. When things like this happen, I don’t think jumping to conclusions without the full evidence is healthy.

Another thing that’s been on my mind in all of this is Sally. I haven’t talked with her about any of this because she doesn’t appear to know it’s going on—without a TV, she’s not seeing coverage—but I know that at some point that will change, because one of her classmates will say something, or her teacher, or perhaps she’ll start paying more attention when we have NPR on. So I’ve been avoiding having these discussions with her, because I like that the scariest things currently in her world are daleks and weeping angels, not real people with guns or bombs, but I’ve also been thinking about how to approach topics like this when she’s too old to avoid doing so, because that time will come.

How about you all? What are your thoughts on the tragedies this week, and on the current manhunt? And if you live in the Boston area, stay safe!


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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • KO

    Reporting from Boston here. Thanks for your kind thoughts. It’s been a terrible, terrible week for us. The entire city and surrounding communities are on lockdown at the moment, and we’re all staying at home glued to our TVs watching the horror unfold. Hopefully the authorities will get the remaining suspect shortly (first suspect died already, second one is surrounded by SWAT at the moment). Stay safe, everyone.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Fellow Bostonian, hunkered down and watching TV. That officer who was killed was only 26 years old. He and I were both regulars at my favorite local Irish pub where I frequently play and a bunch of my friends work. This day and night have been so beyond messed up…

  • Niemand

    Your taxes pay for the people who run towards the bomb-and the bombers. And prevent tragedies like the one in Texas. Enforced zoning laws would have saved lives there, but there is no income tax and frankly very little government in Texas to enforce the laws that are in place-and the result is periodic explosions, poor medical care, bad schools, etc.

    Sorry for wandering off the point, but I see people out there (NOT Libby Anne) eulogizing the “brave fallen” and then voting to cut funding to the police and firefighters and take things like retirement and health care from them and it angers me.

    • gimpi

      I wish there was a “Like” button for this. Seconded. Seconded several times. Well said.

    • Little Magpie

      as someone said on a previous post, “like” x eleventy-billion.

  • Annie

    KO – I’m in Western MA glued to the TV as well. Stay safe.

  • Nea

    My Facebook feed is full of the Mr. Rogers quote about looking for the helpers. His mother told him that when he was a little kid worried about tragedies, and it’s just as good advice for Sally now, in my opinion. Whenever something terrible happens, look for the helpers. There are always people rushing to help. (Rather like the Doctor running into disasters, if that helps her understand.)

  • Highlander

    My 4 yr old son heard about the explosion in Texas and asked me about it yesterday. I explained to him that sometimes there are accidents that happen and people get hurt or killed, and that it doesn’t happen very often because we have rules in place to help keep people safe. I showed him a map of where the accident happened and a map of where our house is. He was worried about an accident happening close to our house, so I showed him that we don’t have any big industry near us. I also showed how far away the accident happened, but that we can still be concerned for the people who are so far away and how we could help them by sending money to a relief organization. I asked him if we should send some money and how much, and he said we should send them 3, and he immediately went to his piggy bank and got out 3 of his precious gold dollar coins that grandpa gives him and told me to give them to the people who had the accident (he only had 6 of them). I took his 3 gold dollars put them in my pocket and told him he was being a very good boy and that he could have smiley faces on his chart for sharing and respect and he should feel good for being a “Good Guy”. I then went online and found a well rated charity providing aid for the accident and added his 3 dollars to my own contribution.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    A few days ago I heard my father going on how it must’ve been Muslims behind the bombing, and I’m afraid that this is just going to feed his Islamophobia. Even if it turns out that the motivations behind to attack where political people will still be convinced that it was religious. It’s easy to dismiss strangers on TV saying hateful things but it hurts to hear it from someone close to you. It must be especially bad for people who are moderate and progressive Muslims because they are being seen as possible terrorists.

    • Staceyjw

      I am not sure why people want to pretend religious ideals do not influence behavior, even violent behavior. Of course they do!

      In Islam, religion IS political. It is a very scary, totalitarian religion, and it makes perfect sense to be afraid of it spreading, especially the politically radical versions (which are rapidly growing). Over a billion people are oppressed by Islam, and the culture that is defined by Shariah, especially women, who are treated worse than cattle. I cannot think of a single Islamic nation that is a place where women, or human rights, are respected.

      I understand that of the billion Muslims, the majority are not violent or hateful, especially moderates. But please do not be blind to think that none are, or that their religion plays no part in terrorism. Christians had the crusades, right? Why do people think Muslims are exempt?

      I think everyone needs to read a blog by Taslima Nasreen, an atheist ex Muslim from Bangledesh. she can never go back, and is an exile because they want to KILL HER for “insulting Islam”. Many Mullahs and nations have put out fatwahs and warrants for her arrest and demanded her death. groups of hundreds of thousands regularly march in favor of KILLING atheists, and anyone that speaks against Islam.
      she blog at Freethought Blogs- No Country For Women.

      • saraquill

        My blood boils at this comment. It is incredibly rude to condemn a huge swath of your fellow humans in one comment. There are extremists in every ideology, it is not limited to Islam or even religion. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you should know that.

        As an answer to your challenge, Turkey.

    • Little Magpie

      to get off topic somewhat, let’s not pretend that Turkey is saintly.
      Saraquill, as an answer to your response: Armenia.

  • Tracey

    This stuff makes me wish I had a choice to know about it or be kept from it. So sad.
    I can not decide if it would have made it better or worse if my parents had exposed me to more or less at that age. My mom had a tendency to shelter me a bit from the negative, but that may have been in response to it bothering me…My inclination is to share with my (future) child- at least the basics, nothing gory. And it’s good to point out this is a nice opportunity to help by volunteering, giving blood, thanking police. And we can have a conversation about emotions and stuff to do when you are really sad. Anything from taking some quiet time, to doing a fun activity, to shopping for a food pantry- whatever works is good.

  • Elise

    I don’t have children myself, but this article popped up in my Twitter feed. It seemed like good advice, and I hope it helps!

  • Peasles

    I have a coworker/friend who told me, back on the day of the bombings, that she heard it was a Saudi Arabian. I cautioned her against believing such early reports, since there didn’t seem to be much evidence for it and this is, after all, America – Land of the Free and Home of the Xenophobes. The next day, of course, there was a lot of hubbub about the news jumping off in this one direction and the Saudi Arabian being suspected just because he was foreign.

    Anyway, I commend you in reserving your judgment and suspicions without facts. Too many people want sensationalized news, which really is just inaccurate news. It’s disgusting.

    My best friend goes to school at UMass Dartmouth and kept me updated today as the campus was shut down, a dorm was evacuated, and then the whole school was evacuated. I’m thankful nothing happened there. My thoughts are with Boston, and I hope this whole tragedy ends soon.

    PS – Oh, and I’ve already seen debates on immigration, gun control, and turning our country into a “police state.” Because nothing says “tragedy” like hijacking it for your political beliefs.

  • shortcake

    The news has broken that the suspects were Russian immigrants who had American citizenship.
    This was an act of domestic terrorism.
    My heart breaks for all the lives disrupted by this tragedy, and the Islamophobic fear mongers make my blood blood boil.

  • saramaimon

    I’m with stacey on this. of course no one knew for sure that the perpetrators were muslim before they were caught, but it was still a reasonable speculation to make based on the type of crime. i really don’t get how folks so aware of the dangers of christian dominionism can be so minimiing of the same dynamic in islam, which is already far more powerful, widespread, and in some areas mainstream, that the christian fringe you write about. shortcake yes they were muslims although it is yey unclear the role religion played

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      That “Christian Fringe” you speak of makes people who work at abortion and women’s health clinics have to fear for themselves every day! I know who I’m more afraid of on a regular basis. And I live in Boston.

      Nobody is denying that Islam has terrorists and fundamentalists and patriarchal extremists, okay? That is just a ridiculous straw man. Our concern is for the many innocent Muslims just trying to live normal lives who are at risk of being scapegoated and retaliated against, possibly violently. (Which has happened in this country, btw.) Did you see the guys’ uncle on TV. Well, he’s a Muslim too. Just a regular guy, making a life for himself, like so many other first-generation Americans.

      And, for the record, The Russia/Chechnya conflict was more of an ethnic/national thing. Radical Islamist groups capitalized on it, as they tend to do, but that was not the origin. Just some, you know, actual facts.

    • Nea

      it was still a reasonable speculation to make based on the type of crime.

      Not really. Big bombings in America tend to be domestic terrorism: abortion clinic bombings, the Olympics bombing, and of course, Oklahoma were all done by Americans who claimed to be Christian.

      • David S.

        While I do think it correct to call the Trail of Tears and the creation of Oklahoma a tragedy, I don’t think it was really a big bombing.

      • Christine in Australia

        Uh, David S., I’m from Australia and as soon as Nea referred to Oklahomah, I knew she was referring to Timothy McVeigh.

    • Kodie

      Also would like to add that painting a broad brush over Islam in a way that almost nobody paints over Christianity is racism. How do you tread the line between a valid criticism of a religion and suspicion of entire groups of people from certain countries? They also tend to be brown-skinned. Islamophobia is not valid criticism of the harms of a religious belief with any nuance or direct criticism of what’s actually bad about it. Only matters is they hate America, right, and they blow shit up.

      Most ordinarily, it is the fear of a different religious belief than Christianity and of brown people mistaken for or suspected to be those nutty destructive Muslims. People who are Islamophobes tend not to shine the mirror on Christianity, and often wave away our criticisms with hurt feelings – “we are not all like that!” Well, neither are Muslims! Neither are people who aren’t even Muslims!

      They protect fellow Christians closer to the extreme end and they are racists with a double-standard.

  • swimr1

    @ David S. – not sure if that is a pitiful attempt at humor or you’re just an idiot. The OKC bombing was a real tragedy that took 168 real lives. I was living in OKC at the time and heard the bomb blast in my neighborhood 20 miles away. As a native Californian, I was amazed at the people of Oklahoma and their response to such a tragedy. While I may not agree with the majority, politically, in Oklahoma, I have no doubts that there are really good people there.

    • David S.

      I thought this was a personal attack free zone?

      Perhaps the point was that using the name of a state metonymically to refer to one event there is unfair; lots of things happened in Oklahoma and it deserves more then to be described by one man’s actions on one day.

      • Nea

        Because, of course, my comment had no other context whatsoever? *eyeroll*

  • saramaimon

    If it wa an abrtion clinic, i would have definitely speculated that the perpetrator was a fundamentalist christian, christophobe that i am.

    • Anat

      Ignoring all other bombings by Christians?

    • Rae

      If you’re attempting to use that as a justification for why you think it wouldn’t be “Islamophobic” to immediately suspect Muslims… the last person to bomb a major US sporting event held what kind of religious views, again? (Hint: He also bombed abortion clinics and a lesbian nightclub)

      • Kodie

        I can’t literally remember every major catastrophic event of massive violence in the last couple decades on US soil, but I think aside from 3 that I could recall, every other one has been perpetrated by a white guy and most popularly a Christian white guy. Every massive shooting or bombing or catastrophic violent event except for 3 in 2 decades has been “not Muslims”. 2 out of 3 Muslim attacks were organized terrorists, and the latest one seems to be more the disenfranchised independent actor(s) alone or in tight groups like Christian attackers usually are. Did you know the 3rd OKC bomber is released and living in the Witness Protection Program?

        I cannot think of a high-level nationally broadcast violent crime on US soil that was committed by a Muslim since I became an adult except for 3 times out of about a handful more than a dozen times.

  • Rae

    [O.T: I'm also getting the "you're posting comments too quickly" note]

    I was about two years older than Sally when the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed, and I can still remember when and where I was when I saw a newspaper with that image on it. I picked it up and read the headline and first couple paragraphs while my mom was distracted… I was a baby news junkie, and I regularly read newspapers, so I knew about car bombs and the IRA, and the Unabomber, and abortion clinic bombings (I didn’t know what abortion clinics were, except that they were some kind of bad places) so I had already kind of just accepted that people bombing things was part of the world and I wasn’t really scared at all.

    Thinking back about it, maybe it was because it was a newspaper that I was able to deal with the tragedies themselves so easily – the image of the Murrah Federal Building with its side gone was printed in a 8×6″ on a piece of paper, with a couple smaller thumbnails of other things from the scene. So while it conveyed what happened perfectly well, I didn’t get video of the explosion or interviews with traumatized locals or anything else that I would’ve if I’d watched CNN.

    • luckyducky

      I tried commenting when this was a fresh post but was likewise getting the “posting too quickly” error.

      I have older children (6 and 8). They have not heard about Boston, or at least it hasn’t soaked in, likely because we don’t have TV and I read the news online so they don’t have the visual images to reinforce the auditory info that they hear on the radio or from adult conversations. I think that, without visual, it is too abstract to have much of an emotional impact on them. Something bad happened at an event they don’t know, in a city they don’t know, and people they don’t know got hurt. Frankly, not much different from what is going on in Syria or Pakistan or any number of other places they don’t know to people they don’t know.

      I would ONLY broach the subject with them if we were dealing with the aftermath and public mourning directly but we live far from Boston, so that isn’t part of our daily life. Of course, if one of my children brought it up we’d talk about it. One of them mentioned “Boston” so apparently they’ve heard SOMETHING, but I asked “what do you know about Boston?” and they both looked at me like I had asked them what they knew about quantum physics and that was the end of that.

      I told my 2nd grader about Newtown because I was certain she would be told about it directly (school had an assembly for 1st-5th graders so she wasn’t just going to encounter it happenstance) and because she would identify with the victims (7 yos just like her) and where it happened (school). But none of that is true (aside from the 8yo who was killed but I don’t think she’ll hear about him if I don’t tell her) about the Boston bombing.

      I don’t want to teach my children to be fearful, which is the mostly likely reaction to scary news they have neither the context nor emotional maturity (do any of us?) to put it in perspective.

      And it is worthwhile noting the difference in how we access information now vs. when we were children vs. generations ago. Such traumatic events were far less “real” for people who weren’t there even a few short years ago because there weren’t nearly as many photos, videos, and constant coverage. I don’t mind at all shielding my children from that as long as possible — again, because they have not yet developed the emotional maturity to process it — which is significantly easier without a television.

  • saramaimon

    you’re leaving out the ones that have been caught!!! also distegarding the proportions in society
    but, you are rigjt that this differs from the archetypal islamic version, which are usually far more elaborately planned. c