Opinion
Get Opinion in your inbox -- sign up for our weekly newsletter
Top of the Ticket
Opinion Top of the Ticket

Boston Marathon bombing proves evil never leaves us in peace

The terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon is yet another cause for despair. It places the hometown of Paul Revere, Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty in company with Mumbai, Karachi and Baghdad, as well as Oklahoma City.

Hour after hour Monday, the same heart-wrenching images cycled through the nonstop television coverage: moms, dads, kids, amateur athletes shooting for a personal best, all suddenly engulfed in horror. As I write, the death toll is set at three; the number of reported injuries has climbed to 134. Those numbers will probably be revised upward.

One moment, happy people celebrating Boston’s Patriots' Day holiday stood cheering for friends and family at the marathon finish line; the next they were on the ground, bleeding, stunned, grievously wounded, pulverized by shrapnel, many legs blown off by the bomb blast. They were random victims of some person or group of people who did not have an ounce of empathy for them.

The central question now is, who is that person or group? Is this the action of a foreign terrorist organization with a gripe against the United States or, like Nidal Malik Hasan, a homegrown killer in sympathy with a distant cause? Is it someone like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, a coldblooded militant sprung from the darkest cesspool of American paranoia? Or is the perpetrator in the mold of Ted Kaczynski, a sociopathic loner with a purpose that makes sense only in his own sick mind?

Whoever it is, we do know this: If anything in this world qualifies as evil, this is it. 

On the afternoon of the bombing, I sat at my desk among my colleagues on the Los Angeles Times national staff. They sprang into action as soon as the first bombing report came in. Reporters were dispatched to Boston. Everyone grabbed a piece of the story to provide a comprehensive version of events.

The editor next to me was on the telephone interviewing an L.A. woman who had been running the marathon when the bomb went off. Then he called a correspondent to suggest a new angle on the story. He used the phrase, “Whenever things like this happen…” and, overhearing those words, I was struck by how utterly normal this sort of incident has become.

George W. Bush was right when he called the people who commit these acts “evildoers.” We are all flawed and stand lower than the angels, but only a few among us eagerly descend to evil like that done in Boston on Monday afternoon.

The evildoers are always out there, plotting to blow a hole in our everyday lives. Luckily, we have resilience, we have generous spirits and we have a legion of good guys on our side to care for the wounded and track down the killers. What we do not have is any realistic hope that the evil ones among us will leave us in peace for long.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Kim Jong Un is a bratty, brutal prince from a darker era

    Kim Jong Un is a bratty, brutal prince from a darker era

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems like a fictional character out of a satirical doomsday movie -- maybe a sequel to “Dr. Strangelove.” That fact that this immature brat and his gaggle of grim, aging generals actually rule a country and have the capacity to disturb the international order seems...

  • Right-wing religious nuts limit Republican Party's future

    Right-wing religious nuts limit Republican Party's future

    Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, says his party needs to be retooled. Republicans, he says, need to reach out to minorities, show a willingness to work with those who do not agree with them 100% and find a way to convince young people that the GOP does not stand for...

  • Hurricane Katrina and the tyranny of magical thinking

    Hurricane Katrina and the tyranny of magical thinking

    Floodwater was everywhere — muddy-brown and streaked in pockets by an oily film. It covered the streets. It covered the lawns. It covered plazas and parking lots. And it lapped softly up against my porch, threatening to crest the lip and continue on through my front door.

  • Opinion newsletter: Time to start taking Trump seriously?

    Opinion newsletter: Time to start taking Trump seriously?

    Good morning. I'm Paul Thornton, The Times' letters editor, and it is Saturday, Aug. 29. Times journalist Ruben Salazar) was killed in East Los Angeles 45 years ago today. Here's a look back at the week in Opinion. Subscribe to the newsletter If you ask Donald Trump, part of the U.S. Constitution...

  • Will L.A.'s Olympic ambitions hurt or help the river restoration?

    Will L.A.'s Olympic ambitions hurt or help the river restoration?

    City analysts raised concerns this week that Los Angeles' bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics underestimated the cost of building an Olympic village along the Los Angeles River to lodge 17,000 athletes.

  • What Americans need: An 'idiot-proof' retirement system

    What Americans need: An 'idiot-proof' retirement system

    Volatility in the stock market over the last couple of weeks has caused enormous unease among investors big and small. Tens of millions of people with much of their retirement money in the market are worried about seeing a sudden plunge in prices. Many of these people will sell their stock to protect...

Comments
Loading
84°