Boston bomb a reminder of our own vlnerability
Off the fence
THE bomb in Boston was horrific. Three lives lost. Over 170 innocent people maimed and injured. Many more seriously traumatised. Early forensic reports state that the two Boston Marathon bombs were simple pressure-cooker ones, filled with nails and metal fragments and probably carried in backpacks. They were placed close to the ground causing many severe lower-body injuries and resulting in amputations.
One of the casualties, eight year-old Martin Richard, had just got an ice-cream and was waiting for his Dad to reach the finish-line. He was killed instantly. Two brothers, in their early thirties, also at the finish-line to cheer on the runners, each lost the lower half of one of their legs.
The NATO bombs that killed 17 civilians, 12 of whom were children, in Afghanistan on April 6, would have been far more sophisticated than the Boston bombs. The operation by the US army, in the Kunar province, was launched in a bid to target armed Taliban commanders.
When leaving the area they were ambushed and an American advisor was killed. The US forces then called in air support to transport the victim and, reportedly, NATO planes bombed the residential area for hours. The 17 victims didn’t have much chance of survival as they cowered in their wooden and mud homes.
For the majority of us, a week after the Boston bomb and we are still acutely aware of its gory details, the identity of its victims, whether any of them had Irish connections. For the majority of us too, the spectre of 9-11 quickly raised its terrifying head in the immediate aftermath?
Could this be the beginning of a new Al-Qaeda campaign? Would former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s ceremonial funeral service (last Wednesday) be the next target? Happily it was not, much to the relief of security forces.
Meanwhile, I had totally forgotten about the April 6 victims of the UN airstrike in Afghanistan. In fact, one airstrike, or suicide bombing, merges into a miasma of memories that I do my very best to block from my mind. It is all far too upsetting, isn’t it?
Who wants to dwell on the image of impoverished people being riddled with bullets or blown apart because of a war whose raison d’etre no longer seems relevant? If it ever really was. (Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq come to mind.)
I sometimes think that we live in a parallel universe. A world that is defined by Fox News, on the one hand, and Al Jazeera on the other. It is a world that cynically uses religious brands and race divisions to protect vastly wealthy vested interests.
It is a world too that changes the contours and lines of the higher moral order to suit the demands of the day.