One week after Boston

A week ago, we all were deeply shaken by bombs exploding at the end of the Boston Marathon. It was a horrific scene in which innocent people were killed and hundreds were wounded. The country stayed riveted as we watched the drama unfold. The president tried to calm our fears and lead us in our mourning. It was a glimpse of people at their very worst and their very best. Much has been said about the heroes of Boston.

Later in that difficult week there was an explosion in the small Texas town of West. Five times the number of people were killed there than in Boston, more people were injured, and a small town was destroyed.

While it is not appropriate to compare tragedies, the disparity between the amount of attention that has been given these horrific events has been startling. One received nonstop coverage in almost every media venue, but, for little West, few outside Texas could tell you the details of what happened and why in the other.

What I want to know is why we obsessed about one tragedy and virtually ignored another. Are we addicted to drama or fear? Does the media, or do our leaders, use our fear to manipulate us? There is relatively little we can do about a couple of bombers determined to do us harm, but what about West, Texas? Could it be that the story of an industrial plant in a state that prides itself on little regulation had to be ignored lest we admit that our greed and addiction to the god of capitalism was responsible for those innocent deaths? Or is it simply that the corporate-owned media would much rather keep us focused on blaming two terrorists rather than notice the corporate terrorism that endangers human life on planet Earth?

Accidents happen, but it is quite likely that the destruction of an American small town and the deaths of its citizens could have been prevented. If the Boston terrorist lives he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and people will cry out for his execution. What do you want to bet that no one will ever be investigated for the corporate neglect that murdered 15 people in West, Texas? Shoplift in this country and you go to prison, but rob millions of people of their savings, their homes, and their retirements in the name of Wall Street greed and you go to Palm Beach with your golden parachute.

Last week we saw terrible tragedies, but the greater one may be that we will learn all the wrong lessons and more innocent people will continue to die each year from corporate greed than from all the terrorists in the world.

by Rev. Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director, Center for Progressive Renewal

  • PeaceBang

    I’m so disappointed in the irrationality of this article. Does anyone genuinely wonder why far more attention was given to the intentional bombing of one of the biggest spectator sports events in a major American city than to a tragic event unfolding in a small town in Texas? The author writes that it is not appropriate to compare tragedies and then does just that. From Monday until Friday evening, all anyone in the Boston area knew is that dangerous criminals were determined to kill as many people as possible and were at large. The FBI, Boston police, Mayor of Boston, Governor of Massachusetts, State Police, and POTUS coordinated and communicated. One of the largest cities in the United States was utterly SHUT DOWN, affecting commerce, public safety, transportation, universities and colleges, and disrupting travel up and down the NorthEast corridor. What happened in Texas is appalling, but there’s nothing at all productive in criticizing Americans for being glued to their televisions around the Boston crisis instead of the Texas crisis. Mainstream media runs on the Almighty Advertising Dollar, I think we all know that. It does little good to wonder why, with such a ratings bonanza on their hands, the major news outlets would devote much time to a less compelling tragedy (less compelling only because people could write off the fertilizer plant explosion as a tragic accident and therefore detach from it more easily. That’s human nature).
    The handwringing about whether or not the criminal negligence in Texas will ever be brought to light or to justice is premature and again, not productive. If we want to see attention brought to this event, let’s bring attention to it! That’s easy to do, and it doesn’t require finger-wagging the nation for consuming mainstream television news coverage between April 16-20.

    Corporate greed is a cancer in our system. Responsible people are aware of that. But setting up competing victim narratives between Boston and Texas is not conducive to a meaningful conversation.

  • Susan Yee

    Thoughtful commentary and I have had the same thoughts also. Two young men murdered 3 people and injured many others. However, the corporate negligence is just as guilty in the murder of many more. They are both tragic. It is also tragic that the Muslim community will continue to bear the burden of guilt.