The frightful bombing of the Boston Marathon earlier this week destroyed lives, paralyzed a city, and shocked a nation. Its wounds will be felt for years to come, and its occurrence will stand as a testament to human brutality and malice.
But I’m not here to talk about the wounds caused by the bombing. I’m here to point out the greater wound revealed by the bombing that was there all along: distrust.
Moments after news of the attack began spreading like wildfire, alternative media giant and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones dubbed the attack a government-orchestrated false flag operation. He immediately faced condemnation from The Blaze, a news website run by Glenn Beck, a pundit who has himself been accused of peddling conspiracy theories in the past. Hardly the kind of unity we have long expected to see in similar situations of national distress, especially from birds of a feather.
But the noteworthy commotion didn’t swirl around a couple of self-important pundits. The real action happened across social media networks as the people of America reacted to their most present fear following the horror: an opportunistic and overreaching government. “How much are we being lied to?” “What senseless government regulations will happen as a result?” “Are they going to jump on this tragedy to try to take away my right to self-defense, like they did last time?” “Am I going to become a government target now because of my peaceful political views?” “What innocent country are we going to invade next with the attack as a pretext?”
We now live in a world where the people’s most primal fears in the face of a horrible tragedy are not that they will become the victim of a similar attack, but rather what the government will do to them as a result. You heard that right: we’re entering an era where the fear of government has surpassed the fear of death and dismemberment by means of a sudden explosive attack. Shocking though this may seem, upon further consideration it makes perfect sense. The probability that one of us will be injured or killed in a terrorist attack is extremely small. The looming threat of a government willing to imprison, rob, and kill its own citizens, with or without legal pretext, is much greater by comparison.
The tragedy is over. Brace yourselves for the aftershock, for they will let no good crisis go to waste.
Photo credit: Aaron Tang