Having been tweaked all day by a critic on FB for yesterday’s post on the Boston bombers, I am going to refrain from offering my own commentary for the next 48 hours, until the dust has settled a bit. So in lieu of my pertinent observations here are a few good articles I’ve read today.
The most ‘must read’ one is John Cassidy’s commentary in The New Yorker on the Boston lockdown, on how the “Terrorist hunt [sent] America over the edge.” Money quote
From one perspective, I suppose, [the lockdown] was just a sensible precaution. During the overnight shootout, many details of which remain unclear, one police officer had been killed and another one had been injured. The police believed Dzhokhar to be armed and dangerous. But does that justify locking down an entire city? America is a violent place. Practically every day, somewhere in the country, cops are looking for armed and dangerous men who have just killed one or more innocent members of the public. But when a gunman runs amok in East L.A., say, they don’t close down Brentwood or Santa Monica. The very thought is absurd.
Ah, you may say, Tsarnaev wasn’t just an ordinary criminal or lunatic; he was a terrorist, and, according to some reports, he had one or more explosive devices, possibly including a bomb vest. Now we are getting to the crux of things. Whenever the word “terrorist” is mentioned in this country, reason tends to go out the window, and many other things go with it, too, such as intellectual consistency, a respect for civil liberties, and a sense of proportion.
The Boston lockdown was insane. Totally unhinged. Even America’s Israeli friends are shaking their heads in dismay, wondering if the great hyperpower is a nation of p**sies. Whether Americans are this or not, terrorists the world over have now been informed: if you want to bring the United States of America to its heels, to sow mass hysteria and chaos and inflict tens of billions of dollars of economic losses subsequent to mass lockdowns, just plant a few simultaneously exploding homemade bombs across the country (in shopping malls, high school sporting events, wherever) that can be labeled “terrorist” (and better yet, Islamic jihadist terrorist). Could this possibly happen in the coming years? What do you think?
If such a scenario does come to pass—and particularly if there are a few of them in rapid succession—America could indeed witness a suspension of constitutionally guaranteed liberties, or at least intense pressure in this direction. And on this, I have no confidence whatever in the American political class, and particularly on the right side of the political spectrum.
In the wake of the Boston bombing and attendant hysteria, Emily Bazelon in Slate asks “How much civil liberty should we give up?” The lede: “Not much. The truth is it doesn’t appear that greater powers would have helped the authorities stop the Boston bombing.”
On the lockdown, Sandy Tolan has a post on his blog asking some questions about martial law in Boston. And a former student of mine, who will be graduating from Harvard next month, posted this FB status update today in regard to the Saudi marathon man who was briefly detained last week
It was startling to see how few people (on campus) raised objections to the treatment of this man. When the stakes of catching the “bad guy” were so painfully evident and when violence touched close to home, people seemed to care a LOT less about racial profiling…
David Cay Johnston has a timely article in The National Memo on “How the NRA impeded the Boston bomber investigation.” And retired FBI agent Coleen Rowley has a not uninteresting piece in Consortiumnews.com on “Chechen terrorists and the neocons.”
And as a useful reminder, an Atlantic piece from last June has been circulating on how “Americans are as likely to be killed by their own furniture as by terrorism.”