I had a relatively busy day yesterday, an interview in the morning and related meeting shortly thereafter, returning home a little after noon. As I typically do when at my flat, I checked my email and various news sites occasionally throughout the day.
I had been offline for a while, and so was hit hard by the news of the two bombings in Boston in mid afternoon, between 3:30pm and 4 o'clock. It was devastating, and I was honestly stunned by it.
But I must confess a predisposition soon began to whisper in the back of my mind, namely, that this had to be an Islamic-motivated or perpetrated attack. Of course, I didn't start blogging about it (and I am not one to post comments on other sites). Rather, I am sharing this for a reason. I am asking us all to look at our first assumptions as to what type of terrorist attack this was.
There seemed to be a strong bias in assumptions being shared on the major news sites and cable channels. A Huffington Post blogger tweeted, "We don't know anything yet of course, but it is tax day & my first thought was all these anti-gov groups, but who knows."
Luke Russert of NBC speculated on a possible link to Waco in 1993 (FBI assault and fire at the Branch Davidian compound), which also fell on Patriots Day. The fact that the Boston Marathon bombings occurred on Patriots Day and Tax Day was noted by many.
Less than two hours after the bombings, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen stated "I'm reminded of Oklahoma City" (which occurred on the anniversary of Waco in 1995), and framed his analysis by speculating that it could be "right wing extremists." Chris Matthews of MSNBC made the assertion that, "as a category, normally, domestic terrorists tend to be on the far right." As we all know now, by late afternoon, the NY Post was reporting that a 20 year-old Saudi national was being held in custody at a Boston hospital, where he was being treated for injuries, and was said to be cooperating with authorities.
My intent here is not to re-report breaking news during the early hours of a fluid investigation, but rather to look at how our minds jump to assumptions and theories based on how we predispose ourselves to think. This is a sign of the passions at work within us. Some in the mainstream media tend to think immediately of Tea Partiers and anti-government, right-wing extremists (in spite of there being very few, if high profile, terrorist attacks by such groups or persons), whereas many of the rest of us (aware of the many recent incidents of Muslim terrorist attacks and plots) first suspect Muslim provocateurs.
It would appear Muslims themselves are just as divided, but with different emphases and rationale, which alone are quite revealing.
Representatives of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist funding trial, and is thus linked to the terrorist organization Hamas, so determined by the US Justice Department) yesterday afternoon were re-tweeting a message started by a Libyan Muslim: "Please don't be a Muslim." Some shocking posts seen in screen captures on various Facebook pages show some Muslims strongly approve of the bombings, as do celebratory statements by a Jordanian Muslim leader, and Hamas, Hizballah and Islamic Jihad terror groups. Other reports show jihadists hope the bombings are the work of... jihadists.
The latest breaking news concerns arrests of jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan in connection with the bombings.
The tragic deaths, horrific injuries, and sheer shock and terror are the first wave of casualties. But all of us are affected in a myriad of subtle and not-so-subtle ways, which generate waves of emotions, from anguish and grief, fear and numbness, to rage and judgment. May we all turn to the Lord and His Most Pure Mother for solace and healing, as we lift up the victims and their families in prayer.
Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston wrote lovingly to his flock, urging "our parishes throughout the Metropolis to offer prayers for the repose of the souls of those who tragically lost their lives today, and to pray for the healing of all those who were injured. May the God of Peace and Mercy bring His peace upon our community."
Such is truly our best response to acts of evil in our fallen world. Let us turn to the Lord, as we strive against hate and judgments in our hearts, even as we inevitably learn more about the enemies who launched this demonic attack.
May God have mercy on us all.