Saturday, April 20, 2013

on terrorists and fame

I had a hard time turning away from the Boston coverage today.  It was horribly suspenseful, and unbelievably extraordinary how quickly the terrorists were neutralized.

I turned on the TV this morning before work, as I do most days, and the Today Show was pre-empted by the coverage.  Boston was in lockdown, and virtually shut down, as the terrorists were hunted down.  The story slowly developed - overnight there was a firefight between the police and two suspects.   Suspect A was killed.  Suspect B was on the run.

I had a hard time turning off the TV to go to work, but I did - albeit very reluctantly.  Throughout the day I often checked my phone, and refreshed the browser set to CNN.  What was going on? Had they caught him?

But they didn't, and when I returned home they still hadn't.  I turned on the TV and resumed the coverage.  Gunshots, and widespread nervousness, and then, ultimately - clapping in the street.  He was captured!

Throughout the day, I kept having a recurring thought as I'd read the coverage:

I don't want to know anything about them.

I don't want to learn their name.  I don't want to hear about their upbringing or their family or their background.  I don't want to know about their ideology, or their beliefs or if they did this in the name of God.  I don't want to know, because I don't care.  My interest in them ceased when they set down their bomb-backpacks on Monday.

We live in an information hungry society, and I get that.  Hell, I contribute to it.  But this seems different.  Why do we give bad people such substantial news coverage?

Instead of focusing on the evil-doers, let's focus on the heroes that rose from the debris of the bombings.  The heroic bystanders who ran towards the blasts, not away, to rescue and to aid.

Let's talk about the doctors, and the nurses, and the hospital staff, who worked hours and hours on end, not going home to their families and their home safe-zones, because they knew they could save even one more person.

Let's talk about Jeff Bauman, the victim in the tragic but iconic wheelchair photo, a severely wounded victim.  I'd love an update on him - how is he doing?  Is his family holding vigil by his hospital bed? Is there a fundraising effort that we can contribute to? (ETA: Update!  I found his fundraising page!).  Show me a picture of him from a happier time.

Tell me about eight-year-old Martin Richard - show me his grade school picture and give me an update on his mother and his sister.  How about next year's Boston Marathon has a mile dedicated to him?  (I'll run mile 12 of the Chicago 1/2 in his honor).

Tell me about the other victims - Krystle Campbell, only a year older than me.  What were her goals in life?  Let's interview her family and her grandmother and show her picture on every news site.

What about Lu Lingzi, the 23-year old student from China, who apparently loved Nirvana.  Let's put a song she loved on our radios and sing it to her in heaven.

Tell me about Laura Wellington, a runner who had nearly completed the marathon when the blast hit.  Let's hear more of her story - about how she was alone, a half mile from the finish line, when a fellow runner Brent Cunningham, came upon her, and, in an unrehearsed and off-the-cuff moment, gave her his medal because "she deserved it too".

Tell me about Shawn Collier, the courageous MIT security guard who was killed last night.  Tell me about his background, what led him to be in law enforcement.  Tell me about his family, and the people that are grieving his loss so profoundly tonight.

I'd love to hear more about the Boston police force,  men and women who have a level of bravery that I can not even imagine.  Police who searched door to door, and unlike the rest of us, hoped to find Suspect B when they peered into a dark basement, or turned a corner into someone's fenced-in backyard.  Bomb Squad members, prepared to deliberately and intentionally interact with bombs like the ones that caused so much havoc.

I'd love to hear more about the regular Bostonians who literally opened up their homes - to strangers! - to make sure that everyone had a place to sleep on Monday night.

Tell me about the group of marathoners, who on Monday ran a marathon and then literally kept running to the closest hospital to give blood.

Monday's bombing was unbelievably tragic and horrible, and that probably makes it newsworthy.  There is so much material to cover... and it should be covered.  It's a way of paying tribute to the victims, and aiding in the closure that all of us need.

But let's not do that by giving the terrorists any more attention.

I could spend all day learning about the true heroes involved (and today, I just about have).  But I refuse to spend another minute thinking about them.

"The hunt is over.  The search is done.  The terror is over.  And justice has won!" - Boston Police Department, via tweet

1 comment:

  1. Powerful post - I love the way you think. Thanks for writing this.


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