Yesterday’s really shocking and horrifying bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon continue to be a mystery, and I’m not going to go into it here except to send you to NPR’s ongoing coverage of the story. There’s been some really excellent coverage of these blasts in various media outlets, and there’s been some really horrible stuff coming out.
For example, just a few hours after the bombs exploded, talk radio host Alex Jones was calling the bombing a “False Flag” operation on Twitter (here’s Jones’ Twitter feed), saying the goal was to discredit the Tea Party and expand the reach of the TSA. Now, I’m not going to make any statements here about that actual assertion, but if this doesn’t seem like insensitively using a tragedy to advance one’s own political agenda, I don’t know what does.
Salon, whose article I just linked above, also has an excellent roundup of the bombings’ bringing out the worst in pundits and others: Using them to play cheap politics, misrepresenting the scale and nature of the violence, maligning Muslims, and other classy moves.
But as I said the bombings are also bringing out the best in many, including in the media. Here’s some of comedian Patton Oswalt’s Facebook comment on the bombing, which has “gone viral,” as the kids say (read the whole thing here):
I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out…This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
The Boston Marathon is a major international event (I heard a reporter on the BBC yesterday refer to it as the “pinnacle” of marathoning, something of which I wasn’t aware growing up in Boston), so the people at the marathon were from all over, including the North Country. Today on the 8 O’clock Hour, our reporter Julie Grant talked with Canton native Laura Monroe-Duprey, who was running the marathon yesterday (you can see the whole interview here) with her husband. In essence, Monroe-Duprey told Julie that although the scene felt “a little like a war scene”, strangers helped her as she made her way away from the bomb site, and she felt “really lucky” to be OK.
Others from the North Country made it into the local papers today, and their stories bring home just how much who is hurt and killed in these kinds of violent acts is based on chance. Among them were Norwood native colleen A. Cotey, who, the Watertown Daily Times reports, had just finished the marathon and was about a block away from the finish line when she heard the first explosion. She was unharmed.
SUNY Plattsburgh biological sciences professor and marathoner Nancy Elwess was about 20 or 30 yards from the finish line when the bomb went off. The Plattsburgh Press-Republican reports in a story on locals in the bombing that she wasn’t injured beyond some small cuts and a ringing in the ear.
Keith Benoit of Plattsburgh had finished the race and was on a bus headed back to the race’s starting point in Hopkinton, Mass., when the bombs went off. He didn’t know what had happened until he got a frantic call from his wife, Holly.
Others got in touch with friends and family in the North Country, and, as the paper reports, people seem to be OK, if more than a bit shaken. Let’s count our blessings on that one as the news continues to roll in.