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We've Learned

Boston learned from New York, No Drama Obama keeps the lid on

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

It was not a shining day for the political right when those Boston bombs went off on Monday. Nor the political left, either. As soon as the smoke cleared, the right was pushing the falsehood that a Saudi man was under suspicion and pressing all sorts of absurd guesswork about a connection to Muslim terrorists. That particular Saudi man has been cleared, I read. It may prove to be true that the culprit is a Muslim , of course, because while the authorities may know more than they're letting on, we the public have not a clue who attacked us, killed three, and crippled and wounded over 200 others. The fact that al Qaeda had a website up describing the very type of bomb used in the attack involving pressure cookers and advocating the method for rogue supporters, doesn't mean much given it's on the web and anyone could read it. Still, that is a connection.

But April 15, income tax day, has been a consistent downer in our history. Lincoln died that day, the Titanic sank. And the month in total provides Hitler's birthday and the anniversaries of previous similar incidents. Oklahoma City,Waco. It is resonant with dates and anniversaries that appeal to those of romantic political nature on the right. At the time of the explosion, our Congress was dealing with gun control legislation and the far right enthusiasts were up in arms, often literally and legally. But we don't actually know at this point.

Also, a few Senators were the addressed recipients of letters with ricin dust in them that were detected by security. They have a suspect, which is a relief. On the other hand, remember Richard Jewell, who saved lives and was condemned as a murderer by inept FBI profilers and whose life was ruined.

These were crude bombs, easily made at home. My own reaction was that this was domestic in nature. And I'm ashamed to say I want it to be. If it proves to be Al Qaeda, which has denied involvement, or some half baked Muslim students here, it will reinforce the deepening prejudice against a religion and its participants no more sadistically violent than those entranced by literal readings of the Bible. It would be constructive if Americans were confronted with examples of our own home grown Christian idiocies which they could utilize to adjudge our own actions. On the other hand, the guy who bombed the Atlanta Olympics, Timothy McVeigh, and others whose crimes were as bad or worse did not really nudge the needle.

The Westboro Baptist Church has said it would go to Boston to inform us yet again that everything bad that happens, including the bombing of the Patriots Day Boston Marathon, is God's punishment due to gay sex. In the same way I'm uncomfortable about hoping the bombs were planted by domestic terrorists, I'm uncomfortable hoping Rear Reverend Phelps and his cult do show up and demonstrate in Boston. I'm from Massachusetts, and I can easily visualize that if Phelps starts his chants at a public function in Boston, nature will take its course and we may be rid of Phelps forever. Street level Boston would not tolerate it, and it's in a bad mood.

The Daily Show gave a shout out to the city, referencing the Mickey Mouse competition between New York and Boston and saying New Yorkers - like host Jon Stewart - know about this sort of thing and its support is heartfelt. He complimented Boston, as we all should, on how they've handled this. To those who dwell on Boston's Big Dig and a political history not terribly inspiring or soothing, and race relations that were quite bad at one time, seeing how Boston rather flawlessly snapped to attention and handled the crime scene, the wounded, the media, and pursuing every lead could only impress. Their public officials did not utter, that I've heard, a single moronic statement or glob of misinformation, or provided an obvious attempt to milk the horror for political benefit. President Obama, in full No Drama but clenched teeth mode, provided calm and total support. In short, all governments from local to federal latched together as the manuals say they should and provided a case study in how government and law enforcement should work.

Of course, Boston had the advantage of New York's 2001 horror that featured Mayor Giuliani on various stages with helmeted fire chiefs and police commissioners elbowing each for camera position behind him, although that tragedy was so much greater. Still, we've learned. Progress.