The house is quiet now. Missy jogged out of her bed to the couch in the front room but immediately curled up there and went back to sleep; the other two - my Bride and the Boy - are our slow risers and have yet to wake. So I get to site here at the laptop near the front window and watch the gray Sunday begin.
I'm not sure whether the brown-streaked song sparrow is one sparrow or two, but it (or they) have been coming regularly to the platform feeder my family has set up outside the window. One of the few gains from the loss of Miss Lily is that Fat Nitty has never been an enthusiastic huntress, and with the Terror of the Backyard biding safe in a ditch we can resume putting out treats for the local birdlife. Nothing exotic; the song sparrows, a pair of chickadees I suspect of nesting in the Oregon grape, and a single massive scrub jay that arrives to standoff with the other local gourmand Mister Eatee the squirrel.
I was watching this little bit of Nature and thinking about the end of the Boston Bombing Week.
With the older brother - who seems to have been what passed for the "mastermind" of this business - full of holes as a colander we may never find out what the hell was going on and why. Certainly the likelihood of some sort of international jihadist conspiracy seems...unlikely. All the jihadi groups have denied these mooks, and their oddball odyssey Thursday and Friday - ambushing a campus cop, carjacking and careening through the streets tossing homemade demo out the car windows - makes them seem more and more like the couple of homicidal losers that Uncle Tsarni called them.
This hasn't stopped any- and everyone from using this episode as a platform for calls for this, that, and the other. My pals Lisa and jim over at RAW have a post up scolding the local security folks for their slipshod laxity in not securing the Marathon finish area better. Various pundits have drawn all sorts of inferences from this; everything from questioning the mental health system, the immigration system (despite the simple reality that the younger Tsarnaev was nine when he arrived here - nine!), to other calls for better security and more thorough assessment of the "threat".
I'm going to add to that but to perhaps something of a different end.
I'm going to suggest that we will ALWAYS have a Tsarneaev or two to strike at us.
For two reasons;
First, because we are and, I hope, will remain a relatively "open" society. I agree with jim and Lisa; the Boston Marathon organizers could have done more to make the route secure. When I go to soccer matches my bag and every bag is searched at the gates, and the gating and exclusion at public venues has become fairly standard. The price of safety is eternal inconvenience.
But I think back to the other big urban events like Seattle-to-Portland. The finish area is almost unsecurable; you have people arriving and departing all through the day. Riders with saddlebags, supporters with backpacks. Vendors, journos, and the whole thing ends in the park right between a mall, a big movie theatre, and the tram stop. To make that area secure you'd make a traffic jam and bottleneck that would make STP and everything around it slam to a stop.
Flick through the pictures I've posted. This is just one year's accumulation of the public events I've attended; me, personally. In one year, in a single mid-sized American city. And every single one of these events was just as open as the Marathon finish area. You could drive right up to them and park within car-bomb radius of a crowd of several hundred. You could walk amid the crowd with a backpack or tote bag competely un-inspected or unexamined.
Street fairs. Bike races. Sunday Parkways. Bridge Pedal. Saturday Market.
COULD make all of them utterly secure? Sure, you could.
But there's a cost there, not just in access but in thought. To really secure all of those venues would be a great deal of cost and personal committment; I'm not sure that anyone has any real idea of how much it would cost.
But, even more significant, you have to get the people, all the people; the organizers, the attendees, the competitors, the law enforcement and security agencies...into the sort of mindset that Israelis have to have; you have to have everyone on the constant lookout for the slightest hint of a threat. Every package, every backpack, every empty vehicle, every "odd stranger" has to be considered a danger.
You have to build that "fortress under siege" mentality into your people. Into your culture.
You have to see every venue as a potential massacre, and everyone as a potential enemy.
And we can do that. Of course we can.
But do we want to?
But, second, the other reality is that there will ALWAYS be human beings who want to do us harm.
They may be simply violent losers, more Tsarnaevs, more Columbine or Newtown shooters. There is almost no way to prevent a person from killing people if they're willing to work hard enough. You can make it more difficult. But stop them? Never.
And - giving consideration to the "Islamic" angle so many people have thrown at this - there are also some mindsets that will never live easily alongside each other.
Think about it this way; even if we stopped the "War on Terror" this minute. If we pulled every drone and every covert agent from every Middle Eastern country. If we halted every dollar and every round of ammunition sent to some loathsome dictator we support because he's friendly to the U.S. or supports our Middle Eastern policy. If we backed away from reflexively supporting the Greater Israel conservative faction. If we became scrupulously "neutral" in the great secular versus sectarian conflict over Islam now ongoing.
Would that bring us "peace" with the sorts of people who want an "Islamic Caliphate" in the Muslim world, the sorts of mad dreamers who founded outfits like Al Qaeda and Hizb-ut-Tahrir?
How could it?
The United States ideal represents everything that that sort of person finds appalling and dangerous. A nation founded on the ideal - often violated in practice, yes, but, still based on the notion - of personal and religious liberty. Open to "dangerous" ideals like the legal and social equity of men and women, the acceptance of homosexuality, even atheism. Tolerant of sexual liberties to the point of libertineism. Women in uniform. Personal choices on everything from abortion to educating women. You can almost hear the conservative mullahs shudder.
So in that sense they do, and will, always "hate us for our freedom". But not in the way that someone like Limbaugh or Coulter or Beck mean it; indeed, the sorts of Islamists who would like to bomb and shoot Americans for ogling nudie pictures and cuddling up to feminists and gays would probably get on famously with Operation Rescue and the boys down at the local John Birch Society.
And to make "peace" with these sonsofbitches really would be to have to change our society in some very fundamental ways, ways I cannot see happening if we are to remain true to our national ideals as I see them.
I hope that the nasty business of last week will, in some way, produce something of value. Some better way, perhaps, to help prevent this sort of brutality from striking somewhere else some time in the future.
But it may not.
Update 4/21: And this sort of idiotic crap doesn't help. "The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise, but terrorists trying to injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans." And you know this, McCain, how? By your extraordinary political ESP, the sort of brilliance that gave us Backwoods Barbie? And King, do I remember you calling for this when your IRA pals turned up in Boston back in the day? And Graham - is this what you had in mind when you were quoted as saying ”We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” back in August?
Fuckadoodledoo, you gormless pinworms, we don't even know what these two gomers were in business to do, much less why. And you're already insisting on replaying the worst-selling of "Dubya's Greatest Hits" as covered by Obama?
Christ, but we're screwed.