17 minutes ago
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
For years to come the Finish Line will be a place of horror. Because of the memories.
As Acts of Terror go, this was a small one 3 dead and a few hundred wounded and/or maimed for life.
As I write that line it reminds me of how accustomed we have become to Acts of Terror, mostly from outside our shores. Bombings in nightclubs and restaurants in Israel leaving dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Bombings in police stations and bazaars in Iraq, leaving dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Bombings in town squares in Afghanistan, leaving the same number of fatalities. The Philippines; Indonesia; England; France and Belgium; all have felt the sting of the terrorist weapon of choice.
To us; they are numbers. We cluck our tongues at the evil loose in the world, and continue with our day. Unless the count includes X number of Americans. Then we care.
Monday the count was Americans first, other nationalities included. Among the dead a Chinese national; among the wounded a Saudi student. There are most likely others, names we will learn in the course of things. But, as with every terror attack, we are most concerned with the American dead.
Why so few deaths? Luck. The attack took place within yards of a staffed medical aide station. Medical professionals expecting to treat a little dehydration; a little exhaustion; maybe a pulled muscle or a cramp or two now had to deal with a missing leg, not a leg cramp. They went from being a part of a race to racing the specter of death; calmly stepping up to the challenge.
Now its our turn. You won't hear this from the administration, but this was a salvo in the ongoing War of Terror. Not the War on Terror; the War of Terror; the one Islamist have been waging since the Carter Presidency. The one we ignore, until we can't. The one we fight, when we absolutely have to. The one that hides in the shadows, until it explodes across the face of our nightly news.
The one that has the goal of killing American civilians.
Monday they succeeded. Innocent lives, snuffed out or changed forever, just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A cliche- and I hate cliches. But what else can you say about an enemy who only attacks at random times and places? Not military targets; not drawn battle lines, but soft targets; targets of maximum pain; targets who didn't sign up to be targets; targets who shouldn't be targets.
Like 8 year-old boys, who are one minute waiting to take the hand of their father, after a long run, but instead are grasping the hand of The Father, after too short a run.
Our problem is how do we fight a enemy who has no county; no flag; no home base?
In short: we can't. We need the places where they are based to fight them for us; our friends in the Middle East. But since the Arab Spring those friends are few and far between. Egypt has fallen; Iraq and Afghanistan we have lost or will lose. Libya too.
We need to fight this war on two fronts; at home and abroad. Abroad we need to hunt down not just the Terrorists, but the governments that give them refuge. That may sound hard, but in a lot of ways that is the easy part.
The hard part will be at home. How can we welcome new flavors to our Famous Melting Pot, while protecting ourselves from the poison they may be? Can we welcome the Arab shopkeeper on the corner, who looks just like the member of Al Qaeda we are accusing of planting a bomb up the street?
Is the Iman praying in the back of the plane waiting to perform an act of terror? Or is he here to escape the terror in his homeland, and just afraid to fly?
Boston will do just as every other Act of Terror has for the last 35 years; create dozens of hard questions.
Where do we go for hard answers?