Wrapped in American flags and shouting “USA!” the residents of greater Boston celebrated the capture of marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to the National Journal, “The young and old gathered in public spaces…singing the national anthem, feeling a sense of common accomplishment, relishing in a public exhale. After a day of lockdown, the source of their collective fear was lifted.” And from the The Atlantic, “A city that’s been under siege for five days is now breathing a huge sigh of relief.”
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of a city locked down in abject fear,
On the nineteenth of April, in o’ thirteen;
Hardly a man could now be seen
Sheltered in place, oh who could have foreseen…
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I in my jammies at home will be…*
Hardly the stuff of Boston legend. Is this really all we can expect from the descendants of the Sons of Liberty? From the Boston Tea Party to Lexington and Concord to Bunker Hill to…the Great Lockdown? Paul Revere and Sam Adams are, no doubt, spinning in their final resting places.
There are several troubling aspects to what transpired after the Boston Marathon bombing. First, how is it that a city whose name is synonymous with courage, defiance and revolutionary spirit so readily acquiesced to a government order to go home and not open the door for anyone other than “properly identified” law enforcement? During “the siege”—which, by the way, was inflicted on Bostonians by their own government—President Obama spoke at an interfaith prayer service in remembrance of the victims of the bombing:
Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed…That’s our strength. That’s why a bomb can’t beat us. That’s why we don’t hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear.
Despite the moments of sustained applause and cheers the president’s comments received, they are complete nonsense. Bostonians did hunker down—in fact, they were ordered to hunker down and they quickly complied. And as for cowering, you tell me what Bostonians were doing before their “collective fear was lifted” and they breathed their “huge sigh of relief.”
But enough of my armchair caterwauling. Let’s take a look at what someone on the scene and clearly more qualified than I has to say. Reporting from Boston for the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz writes:
For most of the day, my family and I stayed inside our home behind locked doors…When I eventually ventured outside, the eerie silence on Boston and Cambridge’s empty streets was something strange…I had the opportunity to think back to the aftermath of terrorist attacks I had covered in Israel before leaving for a sabbatical at Harvard University. I might be wrong, but my feeling is that in the aftermath of those attacks the opposite always happened. There was no lockdown in Israel and there was no order by the mayor to seek shelter. Instead, people were out in the streets, filling up coffee shops right next to the one that had been bombed or standing at bus stops waiting for the next bus from the same line that had just exploded. This has always impressed me as a sign of true resilience, of a refusal to allow terrorism to change our way of life.
I am not judging the people of Boston and their leaders and yes, there is something to be said about being safe rather than sorry. But, I wonder about the long-term strategic ramifications and if this won’t be viewed as a near-surrender to terrorism.
Not to mention surrender to big government. To the nanny state. To the police state.
By the way, the bombing crisis also gave Boston’s top bureaucrats the opportunity to establish that some of its citizens are less equal than others. According to The Boston Globe “At the direction of authorities, select Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the Boston area are open to take care of the needs of law enforcement and first responders.” The legions must be fed even if we need risk the lives of a few bakers.
Now, on to my second gripe: how exactly is the “accomplishment” common as reported above by the National Journal? Because Bostonians paid the taxes that funded the police? Because the good citizens of Beantown dutifully stayed off their own streets? Littering the internet are photos and videos of the moments after Tsarnaev’s capture. They reveal a jubilant populace cheering their uniformed liberators. If the Iraqis had been this grateful there’d be a Disneyworld in Baghdad today. But what did the citizens contribute other than getting the hell out of the way? And what would the punishment have been if any Bostonian had dared venture into the streets of his own neighborhood?
Which leads me to my third and final concern…
In the wake of the great gun debate of 2013, nobody seems interested in pointing out the obvious—that people in Boston were killed by bombs not guns. And many more severely injured because the killers used bombs and not guns. Now, these bombs were apparently not very sophisticated and did not incorporate any illegal components. In fact, a Department Homeland Security Information Bulletin warned in 2004 that “pressure cooker bombs are made with readily-available materials and can be as simple or as complex as the builder decides. These types of devices can be initiated using simple electronic components including, but not limited to, digital watches, garage door openers, cell phones or pagers.” Which, of course, begs the question: will we now hear a demand for the ban of pressure cookers, digital watches, garage door openers, cell phones, pagers and whatever else “not limited to” includes? Apparently, the manufacturer of the pressure-cookers allegedly used in the bombs thinks we might, so they have released a statement that their products “are not intended to be used for any purpose other than cooking.”
Massachusetts largely disarmed its citizens in 1998 with what was hailed at the time as the strictest gun control legislation in the nation. As a result, reports the Associated Press, “The number of active firearms licenses in Massachusetts has plummeted…There were nearly 1.5 million active gun licenses in Massachusetts in 1998. June , that number was down to just 200,000.”
But far from making people safer, The Boston Globe reports that “Murders committed with firearms have increased significantly, aggravated assaults and robberies involving guns have risen, and gunshot injuries are up, according to FBI and state data.”
So, criminals still have guns, terrorists use homemade bombs and the heirs to the Minutemen have been disarmed. But the police will keep the citizens of Boston safe by clearing the streets and rolling the armor.
From Don’t Tread on Me to Shelter in Place. Pathetic.
*With sincerest apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow