Sunday 12 May 2013

A few words on the Boston Bombings

Long time readers might have noted with surprise that I haven’t pontificated in my usual insufferable way on the Boston Bombings, even though it might have been grist to my anti-imperialist mill.

Yes, I was taking a self-imposed break, but that isn’t the reason why I haven’t discussed it. Nor have I turned it into a Raghead episode, though I could have – even without thinking about it – got at least three or four strips out of it. But I decided not to.

Let me just explain my reasoning about why I didn’t draw them.

First, without trying to minimise the suffering of the wounded and the relatives of the dead in this episode, I would like to say this: the Boston bombings were remarkable in how absurdly minor, in the scheme of things, they were. I mean, take a look at them – two low-grade bombs, which killed exactly three people and injured so many only because they were in a densely packed crowd.

In comparison, how many hundreds were killed by terrorist bombs in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan on that same day? How many were killed in gang warfare in the US and Mexico? How many civilians were blown away by drones?

More than three, you can bet.

In fact, giving undue stress to something this minor is a kind of victory for the Empire – it implicitly recognises that American lives are worth more than those of non-Americans, whether murdered by Americans or by others. It is a vindication of the claim that the Empire is “first among equals” and has a unique and privileged leadership position in the world.

As a matter of fact, the American “victim mentality” is a source of considerable and growing irritation in the rest of the world. To this day, every 11 September, for instance, Americans scrape their healed wounds raw in order to remind themselves of how they were “unjustly attacked”. I mean, it’s been twelve years, and you’ve both inflicted and suffered far more death and devastation since then, so get over it. As a member of a nation which has been victimised by terrorism since long before and to this day, I ask myself, should we keep on and on reminding ourselves of those attacks? What should a citizen of Iraq do, then, or an Afghan or Somali?

Then, there’s the fact that the US, along with its British vassal, was entirely responsible for creating the situation that led to this bombing. Its cheerleading of the Chechen “independence movement” – which by the mid-nineties had already degenerated into a rabble of disparate violent groups, most of which were either radical Islamist, or criminal, or both – is no secret. It kept supporting the Chechen terrorists through and beyond the Beslan massacre of 2004, and to this day Chechen terrorist leaders find shelter and aid in the US and in Britain. None of these things is exactly unknown.

Giving publicity to the bombing inevitably focuses attention on the victims – not on the actual victims of the bombing alone, but on the US as a “victimised nation”. It detracts from the US’ own responsibility for creating the circumstances that led to the bombing, stretching back to American support for radical Islam stretching back to the 1979-90 Afghan War.

Third, the fact that the bombing ended in another jingoistic flag-waving episode when one of the (accused) perpetrators was finally captured is enough to make clear that for many people, this was the equivalent of a “heroic police versus vile terrorist” video game, and a kind of stand-alone episode. These people are neither interested in, nor capable of understanding the concept of, continuing history. They can’t – or won’t – understand the simple fact that as you sow, so shall you reap. Ergo, they will always continue to support the Empire’s policies and react with astonished outrage when these same policies recoil on them in the future.

Fourthly, the bombing has already been handled extensively by commentators and cartoonists, including Ted Rall – someone whose work I like and recommend, even though I don’t always agree with him. Adding to it at this late date would be neither useful nor particularly original.

Fifthly, the hand of the FBI is arranging “terrorist attacks” in the US is as well known as the fact that large scale terrorist plots have been upstaged by lone-wolves and tiny independent terror cells. So these attacks, staged or otherwise, will continue happening. There’s no particular reason to promote one at the cost of another.

Again, I don’t intend to ignore or trivialise the individual suffering of the victims of the Boston bombing. I do, however, say that this was a minor episode, that it will happen again, and that fetishising it is an insult to the victims of other terrorist crimes elsewhere, from Pakistan to Syria, from Somalia to Afghanistan, and beyond.

One final question – the “perpetrators” were Chechens who were allegedly “radicalised” in Daghestan, right? Daghestan is a part of Russia. Is the Empire planning to bomb Daghestan, invade it and “sweep it all up” in Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous phrase?

If not, then what is the point of the Global War of Terror?


  1. Your take on this is not very different from my own. It is true that the US does bring this sort of thing on itself. So sad that we don't know, as a nation, history, not even the history of our own country.

  2. I agree. I was quite frankly disgusted with our tv news media here. On the dame day or the next day of the Boston bombings there was a huge earthquake elsewhere killing heaps of people but the Boston bombings headed our news. Footage pretty much as described on the Ted Rall clip above, just add in a clip from a Kiwi who was actually in the marathon. The earthquakes (in a brown country) weren't mentioned until after the first ad break.

  3. I was sort of sickened by the coverage.

    As the police drove away, after capturing the kid, people stood along the road waving American flags. I'm not sure WHY they'd do that, as this was a crime by American citizens against American citizens.

    Then the analysis started - these were oddball kids and they should have been captured BEFORE they committed a crime.

    Yes, if only the US government violated MORE citizen rights by monitoring MORE of its oddballs more closely, these kids MIGHT not have killed 3 people.

    Or they might have anyway.

    I mean, the domestic watch list DOES have like 9 million people on it - who do you hire to monitor 9 million of your own people?

    This was a tragedy for those affected, but as you say, it was minor in the scheme of things - and it could NOT have been prevented using reasonable methods.

  4. Bill, As former Bostonians, we followed the news pretty closely and it is just as you describe. One thing we noticed - there was all this whining about the "cowardly" attack. To me, "cowardly" is the essence of a drone strike.

  5. On Facebook someone posted a picture of 2 Afghani women holding up a sign saying their prayers were with Boston. Something like that. Maybe photoshopped but I think more likely not. My comment was and is: Can *we* stop bombing *them*? Now?


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