Fear. Horror. Disgust. For me, that melancholy trinity defines the response to latest act of Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil, the hideous bombings at the Boston Marathon just over a week ago that left 3 dead and more than 260 injured (at least 15 were in critical condition).
Let’s start with the horror.
Martin Richard, age 8, was near the finish line watching the race with his family when one of the bombs detonated. He was killed by the blast, which riddled his body with shrapnel. His younger sister Jane lost a leg. That’s easy to say, isn’t it? “Lost a leg.” Sounds like “lost my glasses” or “lost my wallet.” But there’s this difference: you left your glasses behind a book on the nightstand. In Boston, a young girl had her leg blown off by two Islamic terrorists. And then there was Mrs. Richard. She was standing right next to the bomb and suffered a traumatic brain injury from the blast. That story can be told many times over. At least 14 people lost all or part of a limb, several of them more than one.
Horror is probably the central element of most terrorist attacks. How could it be otherwise? Terrorist attacks by definition target the innocent. A bunch of spectators at a marathon in Boston on an early spring day. What have any of them done to the bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Nothing. The destruction of those innocent lives is a brute, unassimilable horror that must forever exist outside the quotidian realities of everyday life.
But horror, although it is a central element in this barbaric episode, is not the only relevant emotion. There is also disgust. For me, disgust (fortified by a healthy dollop of contempt) is my prevailing response to what the hand-wringing, left-wing sentimentalists have to say about the Boston bombings, and especially what they have to say about the bombers themselves. I’ve already written about David Sirota’s emetic essay in Slate in which he expressed the hope that the bomber would turn our to be a “white American” while also dilating on the sin of “white male privilege.” The politically correct consensus has been bleating in perfect unison on this subject. First came the prediction and the fervent, trembling hope — the unspeakable yearning — that the perpetrator of this slaughter would turn out to be a tea partier, an anti-government right-winger, or at least a white male Christian of some description.