By Dan Pool
Having had a recent knee surgery, I had a lot of time sitting last week; time to watch copious amounts of Boston Marathon Bombing coverage. Whereas in normal life people might catch a little here and little there, through my immobility I watched and checked online for updates more-or-less all day.
Here are some thoughts gleaned from my days on the couch:
• Crowds cheering as police cars and ambulances drove home following the arrest must be a highpoint for law enforcement in America. The Boston Police’s poetic tweet was perfect. “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”
• That officers solved the crime within a few days, relying on public help, arresting one suspect and killing a second is impressive.
• The low point was surely CNN announcing incorrectly that arrests had been made (some other news outlets followed their lead, which might be worse -- both unoriginal and wrong). It was CNN’s big guns on screen, too, Anderson Cooper, John King and Wolf Blitzer. If it were this weekly newspaper that made such a huge mistake, somebody would be looking for work.
• The fact that the Boston bombing had the whole nation fixated put a lot of pressure for all media (television and online) to keep the flow going, even when nothing new was happening. For the on-the-scene correspondents, it must have seemed like a weeklong reception at your house and needing to make conversation. In hindsight, rather than blathering endlessly with speculation, a good bit of it grossly off-base, it would have been better to hear, “Nothing new here at the bombing site. Investigators continue to work.”
• An Onion satire headline noted that the internet led to 8.5 million leads being sent to the FBI, naming 8 million different suspects and also including several that were sure the whole bombing was a hoax or had been perpetrated by the government.
• It needs to be remembered that three people, including an 8-year-old, really did get killed and dozens lost limbs including a newlywed couple who are now both amputees because of the bombs. You wonder if the younger suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who was allegedly a nice guy, had known that the bomb was going to kill a little boy would he have done it?
• A fear expressed by a timid few is that putting all of a major metro city on lockdown with rolling shows of force created so much infamy for two young men with a couple of home-made bombs that it is sure to inspire copy-cats and not for any jihad but just for fame – “See how much attention I can get.” As one columnist stated never have so few people with such limited resources created so much terror.
• The uncle who urged the younger killer to turn himself in and beg for forgiveness will remain an inimitable character. Listening to him growl that his nephews brought shame on Chechnyan people was stirring and heartfelt. Whereas their aunt from Toronto was a complete flake – speculating that it was a massive frame-up and telling the media to connect the dots to see who did it, which made no sense.
• It was startling to see how often the younger brother was portrayed as a normal, sweet-natured kids. One description by a friend, however, shows some seriously different values, saying “he would come out and smoke some weed and drink with us…. He was all American,” as though smoking pot is a clear sign of a loyal patriot.
• It was creepy but interesting to see how one online publication, Slate, posted a link to the older brother’s Amazon book wish list. It was shocking to see how many books are out there regarding forging documents.
• There has already been some finger-pointing that the FBI missed an earlier tip on Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Surely in hindsight they would liked to have cuffed him then. But hindsight is always perfect and the fact remains that no credible information popped up then.
• One terrorism expert said on the radio that there are a lot of people who hold “radicalized” ideas of all kinds, not just Muslim, but also anti-government folks of which only a small percent are “mobilized.” The key is finding the ones who are mobilized because you can’t ever corral all the ones with extreme ideas.
• One online columnist pointed out that on the same day the Boston Marathon Bombing killed three, 42 people were killed by explosive devices in Iraq, but no one seemed to care about that. American tragedy is different because it’s so unexpected. As the uncle of the two killers said America is an ideal country, which is why this is so shocking even though bombings are happening everyday in many places.