The Boston Marathon bombing was a terrible tragedy that does not stand alone.
Casualty figures for April suggest that about 182 people have been killed in violence in Afghanistan this month. In one of the days leading up to the election, some 55 people in Iraq were killed in a bombing. The wars that catalyzed such attacks, and have made both Iraq and Afghanistan such unstable nations, will end up costing the United States over $4 trillion total, to say nothing of the cost of human life both military and civilian.
Approximately 4,700 people have been killed by United States drone strikes: in Pakistan alone they have killed about 800 civilians and far too many children. The survivors of these attacks, and the family members of those killed, are often radicalized by the attacks into an animosity towards the United States that frankly, seems righteous when considering the devastation that U.S.’ foreign policy has wreaked upon their communities. At Jezebel, writers testily proclaim that one can feel sadness about the Boston Marathon just as one feels sadness about drone strikes or mass bombings around the world, but if that’s the case, where are the innumerable memorials and blood donations for those in Iraq? Where is the passionate American condemnation of drone strikes and all military policy that endangers and terrifies a population the way that the Boston Marathon did to our citizens that would presumably accompany such empathy?
At the time of this writing, CNN has announced that a suspect in the bombings has been identified, though he/she has not been taken into custody. We must hope, not that the person who committed this act is “not Muslim,” as so many around the world are praying, fearing violent and misguided military repercussions, fueled the United States emphasis on militarization and tacitly condoned by our misinformed citizenry’s racism. Rather, we have to hope that the United States, both our people and our government, takes this horrible incident as an opportunity to reflect on the violence perpetuated against American citizens, but also in our name, and by our leaders. Otherwise the Boston Marathon tragedy is only a terrifying incident, business as usual for United States’ post 9/11 foreign policy and a wasted opportunity for empathy. Americans are not the only people in the world upon whom egregious acts of violence are perpetrated. Indeed, we are a citizenry whose state’s violence tends to be perpetuated far beyond our national boundaries.