The Boston Marathon Bombing: What Does It Mean, and Where Will It Lead Us?

By Jay Holmes

By now, you will have heard about the bombs that detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Before offering opinions concerning that event, I would like to point out an important fact that is easy to miss as the United States and interested foreigners focus on the “who” and the “why” of the tragedy.

Boston Marathon Bombing image by Aaron "tango" Tang, wikimedia commons

Boston Marathon Bombing
image by Aaron “tango” Tang, wikimedia commons

I offer my thanks and admiration to the many bystanders that did so much to help the dozens of badly wounded victims. Several victims of the bombing lost limbs and yet did not bleed to death. This was due to the fact that many of those who were not wounded or not severely wounded reacted quickly and calmly.

For someone to survive the loss of a limb in an explosion requires the immediate application of first aid. While trained First Responders were fortunately present at the finish line, they faced the task of dealing with approximately one hundred seventy wounded people. Without the quick calm actions of many bystanders, the death toll would have been much higher than three. For the loved ones of the three victims who died, three no doubt seems like infinitely too many. Our sincere condolences to those families that mourn those losses, along with our humble encouragement to the dozens of badly wounded victims who are fighting to recover some measure of health.

The questions that loom largest in the minds of most Americans are, “Who did this?” and, “Why?” In the days immediately after the bombing, a variety of politicians and “journalists” offered their guesses about who was responsible and what their motives were. Many of those early guessers did little to hide their obvious personal political agendas when voicing their opinions and assumptions about the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Which politicians and journalists spouted the most asinine and annoying nonsense is a topic worthy of an entire article, but let’s leave that for another day.

On April 17, 2013, rumors circulated that the FBI had arrested a Saudi Arabian suspect. The FBI and Boston Police stated that no arrests had been made. Reports of an unscheduled meeting between US President Obama and the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal fueled speculation that the White House was doing damage control in response to a supposed connection between Saudi al-Qaeda members and the Boston bombing. However, the White House said that the president had simply joined the meeting, which was already scheduled with other White House staff members and the Saudi Foreign Minister concerning the ongoing civil war in Syria. Thus far, no connection between al-Qaeda and the Boston bombing has been announced by the White House or by US government agencies involved in the investigation.

On April 18, the FBI released photos and videos of two bombing suspects. At about 10:00 p.m. that night, police received a report that one of the bombing suspects had robbed a convenience store. As police headed for the scene of the robbery, 26-year-old policeman Sean Collier of the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology responded to a report of a disturbance. He was allegedly murdered when the two bombing suspects attacked him.

The murderers of the MIT policeman are alleged to have subsequently hijacked an SUV and its owner. They forced the owner to withdraw $800 from an ATM, but later allowed him to leave as they continued their seemingly disorganized escape attempt in his SUV.

In the early morning hours of April 19, police located the bombing suspects. The details of the ensuing chase and shootout remain unclear, but the police were able to mortally wound 26-year-old Chechen immigrant Tamerlain Tsarnaev. Unfortunately, his 19-year-old brother and alleged accomplice in the bombing managed to escape the confrontation. Boston was placed in an “emergency lock-down” as the police conducted a manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

During the evening of April 19, a resident of the Boston suburb of Watertown noticed that the tarp covering his boat had been disturbed. He found a bleeding man hiding in the boat and alerted the police. After an hour long police action, the wounded Dzhokhar was taken into custody.

As Boston and the nation rejoiced in the capture of the two bombing suspects, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick reminded the public that “a million questions” remain to be answered. Given the stress of the last week, the governor can be excused for his exaggeration.

From my point of view, the most important questions are as follows. Were there any conspirators to the bombing beyond the two Chechen immigrant brothers? What were the motives of the two bombers and any other conspirators? How forthright will the current administration be in releasing information about any groups that may have conspired with the two bombers?

Some speculate that the two bombers were acting on behalf of the Chechnya Nationalist Movement. This is not altogether impossible, but it strikes me as unlikely. Chechen Islamic jihadis have fought in a number of conflicts, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and the current civil war in Syria. This can be compared to the fact that Jordanian, Saudi, Egyptian, and Syrian Islamic jihadis have taken part in various armed conflicts outside of their individual homelands. They were, in most cases, not acting as representatives of their home nations.

It seems likely to me that the older Tsarnaev brother would have received training from Chechen Islamic nationalists, as is common for young male Chechens. However, we don’t yet know if any ongoing relationship with any radical group in Chechnya existed, or if such a group had any foreknowledge or involvement in the Boston bombing. In the long struggle between Chechnya and Russia, Chechen nationalists thus far have cautiously avoided acquiring enemies beyond their formidable Russian opponents and their immediate neighbors. It would seem contrary to Chechen nationalist goals to instigate a conflict with the US. For those who are unfamiliar with the recent history of Chechnya and its war with the Soviet Union and now Russia, we will publish a brief outline of the history of Chechnya on Wednesday.

One of the more popular current theories about who else—if anyone—might be behind the Boston bombing is the theory that the two Chechen brothers might be working on behalf of al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda clone group. However, al-Qaeda is generally quick to claim credit for any crimes that they may have had a hand in, but, thus far, they have not claimed credit for the Boston bombing. This does not exclude the possibility that they or some less expert Islamic terror group was behind the bombing.

Early theories espoused by some were that “white supremacist” or “right-wing pro-gun radicals” or “tea party supporters” were behind the bombing. Since the apprehension of the two Chechen suspects, these ideas seem even more improbable than they did in the early hours after the attack. Also, although it might support marketing opportunities to excitedly proclaim that the Boston Marathon Bombing somehow represents a new type of threat to the American public, there is as of yet no evidence to suggest that.

Any nation that can remain free enough to avoid devolving into a totalitarian police state is, in its comparatively free state, going to be vulnerable to violent criminal attack. While the Boston bombing represents a new type of horror for the good people of Boston, criminals like the Tsarnaev brothers are not a new development.

While the motives of the Tsarnaev brothers and any other co-conspirators have yet to be clarified, another important question remains unanswered. To what degree, if at all, will the people of Boston, the people of the Massachusetts, and the people of the US respond to the tragedy with a greater willingness to surrender more civil rights in an attempt to gain more security?

Tea Time on Wall Street – Since 1773

By Jay Holmes

During the last two years we in the United States have seen a rise in popular protest movements. In January of 2009, in response to a proposed “obesity tax” in New York State, Libertarians and fiscal conservatives organized a “Tea Party” style protest against rising taxes and the fiscal recklessness of the New York State government. Some of the protesters wore Native American style head gear and make up to emulate the actions of the original Tea Party participants in Boston in December of 1773.

image from

In more recent weeks, we have seen the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement and witnessed its near collapse. While I don’t support the acts of vandalism and other crimes committed by a small minority of the “occupy” protesters, I do sympathize with many of their concerns.

The outrageous financial scandals in recent years and the near total lack of prosecutions of the culprits have been disturbing to watch.  The ensuing news announcements that taxpayer-funded bail out money has frequently been used to pay huge bonuses to the “leaders” of failed financial institutions have served to salt the wounds of taxpayers and defrauded investors.

Guileless and unlovable mouth pieces in the media shamelessly whore for each of the major political parties with less class than the employees in a third world house of ill repute. Their attempts to dismiss the Occupy participants as being either hooligans or well-disguised, hard-core supporters of their respective political parties are clumsy at best.

My guess is that the protestors are neither thugs nor political radicals. The American taxpayers have plenty to be genuinely angry about, and I support any peaceful protests. If elected officials are mildly concerned by the protests, then I say bravo! It’s high time these very comfortable congressmen and the self-worshiping ninnies in the White House felt a touch of discomfort. A comfortable government is a bad government.

Given the recent rise of popular protests, along with any unpopular ones, I thought it was time to review one of my favorite Tea Party Groups. With current events in mind let’s look at the events of 1773 in Boston Harbor.

In 1773, the British East India Company performed the miraculous feat of so badly mismanaging their government sponsored world trade monopoly that they found themselves in financial trouble. Modern readers, having witnessed the recent years of financial scandals in the Western world, will have no trouble understanding that such outlandish mismanagement is possible.

The East India Company found itself holding more tea then it could hope to sell. It reasoned that too much of someone else’s tea was being sold at lower prices to lowly peasant colonists. We can call those “someone else” folks “Dutch, French and American merchants.” The East India Company went to their pals in the British Parliament and quickly had a bill passed known as the “Tea Act.” Rather than bother with the details of the intentions and stated purposes, real and imagined, of the Tea Act, lets just recognize what the little people in the colonies thought of it.

From the point of view of those quaint but pitiful colonists across the Atlantic, the Tea Act taxed them as a particular group without taxing their cousins in England for the same tea. The colonists (a.k.a. the eighteenth century Occupy protesters) decided that they neither wanted nor would accept “taxation without representation.”

Three British ships loaded with the newly taxable tea made port in Boston in 1773. The locals—we can call them “Red Sox Fans”—wanted the ships returned to England unloaded. The Red Sox Fans assumed that the British ships would cast off and return to England, just as British tea ships had recently done in New York and Philadelphia.

Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the British head goon in Boston, Governor Thomas Hutchinson, had a financial interest in the distribution of British East India Company tea in New England. He ordered the ships to remain docked while he attempted to coerce the Red Sox Fans into doing what Yankees Fans in New York had already refused to do. Baseball fans will easily recognize the fundamental flaw in his strategy.

The Red Sox team would not be founded for another century, so lacking in proper Red Sox caps, the long-suffering, impatient Red Sox Fans, while waiting another century for opening day of the baseball season, dressed up as “Indians.” The Native Americans, not the baseball team. On the night of December 16, they overpowered the guards of the ships (actually they probably laughed together about it) and proceeded to dump the thousands of pounds of tea into the harbor.

Independence minded colonists did not miss the significance of what had happened. The King and his parliament—sort of like the White House and their Wall Street—didn’t think it was funny. They closed Boston Harbor to all trade and demanded full payment from the colonies.  An accommodation would have been wiser, but the big-headed, small-minded English King George and his parliament were long on wind and short on reason. Instead of losing a few tons of surplus tea, they ended up signing a less favorable agreement at a place called Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781 when General lord Cornwallis surrendered his army to an upstart Virginia plantation owner named George Washington. Adios, American colony!

It is never wise to ignore the legitimate concerns of a reasonable people. It is a thousand times less wise to ignore the angry rumblings of an always impatient and often fiercely independent people. I call those people Americans, and I do so proudly.

What do you think of the modern American protests?