Monday, April 22, 2013

What similar events most help us understand the Boston Marathon bombing.

We understand an event in terms of the linkages we establish between that event and other events.

The media have been encouraging Americans to understand the Boston Marathon bombings in their relationship to the conflict between Russians and Chechens or the role of Chechen fighters in Afghanistan and Syria.

What if we instead understand the Boston Marathon bombings in their relationship to the shootings at Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Denver, etc. or Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing?

Maybe Pogo was right!

Further Thoughts

I don't usually return to a post to add to it, but I will do so here. I heard political conservatives going back, seeming to liken the Boston Marathon bombers to Sacco and Vanzetti, the immigrants who were convicted of murder in a famous trial in the 1920s. The Tsarnaev brothers will be used to lobby against immigration reform. It will be (strangely) used to argue against Hispanic immigration.

I was first annoyed by the "talking heads" who fill airspace with fluff and misinformation since no one knows why those young men did what they did. The false analogies, and most must be false since there are so many that have been advanced, lead to bad thinking and bad responses. (Think about President Bush leading us to war against Iraq, no doubt due to a bad analogy between 9/11 and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.)

My niece, who happens to be a defense lawyer, pointed out that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's mother is in real pain and deserves honest treatment of her son. So too, the mothers of the victims of the bombing deserve honest treatment for their children.

I am reminded that our greatest lawyers have defended people in the most controversial circumstances. John Adams defended the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre. John Quincy Adams, after he had been president of the United States, defended the Amistad mutineers before the Supreme Court after they had already been convicted in an initial trial. Clarence Darrow represented Leopold and Loeb. Thurgood Marshall argued Brown vs. The Board of Education before the Supreme Court. Theodore Olson and David Boies, who represented Bush and Gore respectively in the supreme court case that determined the outcome of the 2000 election, recently joined to defend gay marriage before the Supreme Court.

One can only hope that equally great advocates step forward to assure that the Massachusetts mothers see justice done for their children. Perhaps the public can even learn why the tragedy happened.

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