Posted on April 20, 2013 by Ruth O'Brien
I always know it’s my birthday when things start blowing up. A close friend from Germany would telephone, and for the life of me, I was flattered and impressed: How did she remember? That was until I recalled that the New York Times covered the Jewish cemetery in Iselin, N.J., being vandalized by neo-Nazis on my birthday one year.
I asked her about it. Oh yes, she knew, and she confessed that this was what triggered her memory every year (on top of being a considerate friend). As it happens, Hitler’s birthday (April 20) is also a bit of a to-do over in Germany. Like clockwork, something bad happens, or a multitude of events — pre-1989, post-Berlin Wall, it doesn’t matter.
Then I triangled* this with the fact that five days before Hitler’s birthday is the day we all have to send in our taxes, with Uncle Sam (and why not Aunt Samantha?) holding open their bags or coffers. Throw in a few more anniversaries, and now you get the picture.
Now we have captured the two terrorists from Chechnya who come from the troubled region that is Muslim, but we cannot understand their motives, not yet. And Obama encourages us to refrain.
This said, the mortuary pictures of the older brother of the two are extremely disturbing, raising questions as to whether the Boston Police Department captured him with too much force. I understand the explanation offered by Katharine Q. Seelye, William H. Rashbaum, and Michael Cooper. Yet, it does not ring true. A picture is worth a thousand words that will keep our ears ringing as we recoil from this photo. Images have a way of searing themselves into our memory in a way that can’t be undone. We have an emotional memory, not just a rational one that is exemplified by words.
While terrorism is about causing fear — again an emotion — we do have to account for our conduct in these extreme times when adrenaline is running high.
At my home, to at least offset this, we turn off all media. I couldn’t believe my sons’ explanation when they got home about one brother running over the other one. So I found a place to read about this, and I recoiled after seeing the picture. Still, we all know that terrorism, like crime,“leads if it bleeds” with the established media. The established media fixates on the domestic-violence or crime-of-passion aspect of terrorism, and it, too, inculcates more fear in all of us.
Boston has great resonance for terrorists. Selecting the Boston Marathon has great impact and it is going to be felt among the upper middle class: healthy, white, high-income earners who are non-smokers and non-drinkers (though maybe pancake-and-syrup eaters)— those who attend the Boston Marathon or watch it.