The Edmond Sun

Opinion

April 23, 2013

Don’t give terrorists any more victories

NEW CASTLE, Penn. — The finish line of a road race serves as the division between one world and another. Ahead of the finish line, there is structure and discipline, with attention paid to the runners as they cross over. Spectators are kept back, mainly to avoid interfering with the participants — and perhaps to keep them from being trampled.

Once they finish a race, runners are herded quickly through a chute to keep the proper order. Or else — courtesy of modern technology — their times are recorded by chips attached to their shoes.

From that point, the race is over, and participants are left mostly to their own devices. They may get a medical assessment if finish line crews detect a problem. But for the most part, they just wander off, perhaps to catch up with family and friends who may be milling about the area.

That, in a nutshell, was the scene a week ago when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The explosives apparently were set to target people in the area, rather than the runners.

At the time, no one seemed to have noticed two men identified as suspects put down backpacks and walk away. No surprise there. At a marathon, there will be lots of people with backpacks and other bags carrying spare clothing, drinks, food, etc. And plenty of other things are happening at the time to draw the attention of race workers.

I note these things as someone who has participated in more races than I can recall, including multiple marathons. I have volunteered at races and directed them. I know the drill.

In these roles, looking for bombs was never on my list of things to do. And it still makes little sense. What gain, even in the mind of a fanatical terrorist, comes from killing and maiming people as they mill about the finish line of a foot race?

One suspect in the Boston bombing has been killed and another captured. In the coming days, we will learn much more about them and their mindsets. Perhaps even something akin to a motive will be identified.

There’s a good chance it will be discovered that the marathon was targeted more as a convenience than any sort of a strategy by two angry young men seeking only to lash out. They lived in the area and perhaps knew they could gain access to the finish line with minimal effort. But they apparently didn’t grasp that the real risk in their plot would come after videos of the scene were viewed.

A few months ago, in the wake of a massacre of children at a Connecticut school, I wrote that the inevitable increase in security wouldn’t end violence. It would just shift it to other soft targets.

In many ways, the finish line of a road race is very soft.

Maybe it won’t be that way any more. Maybe there will be new restrictions, more extensive security. Or maybe many races that are financially marginal will just go away.

That would be unfortunate, and not just for runners. I suspect that people — of all ideological ilk who are prone to violence — see the restrictive response to acts of terrorism. To them, it’s an enticement to commit their own acts.

But reports that came out of Boston the day of the bombing dealt more with average people rushing to the area and doing all they could to assist the victims. It was a statement of courage in the face of terrorism, rather than fear.

That’s the real response to terrorism. The more we turn America and its facilities into armed camps, the more victories we give to those who espouse violence.

MITCHEL OLSZAK is a columnist for the New Castle (Pa.) News.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results