Who did it? That’s the question on most minds as the investigation into the terrorist slaughter of three people and the maiming of nearly 200 in Boston on Monday continues.
On Wednesday afternoon we had to suffer through one of the worst failings of the media: false reporting. There has been an arrest, respected outlets such as CNN said. No there hasn’t, law enforcement authorities quickly responded.
To the dead it doesn’t much matter who did it. Eight-year-old Martin Richard; Krystle Campbell, 29, a restaurant manager; and Lingzi Lu, a graduate student at Boston University — their names are ones we will not soon forget, and really never should.
They died in an act as heinous as any you can think of. The Newtown shootings, Sept. 11, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 — they’re all terrorism, whether committed by a mentally deranged young man, an antigovernment radical or al Qaeda.
And whichever type of person or persons committed this act, this new Boston Massacre, they must be found and suffer the full weight of justice. If the perpetrator is an American citizen, that means a federal trial. If he is a foreign enemy engaged in this war between civilization and the followers of Osama bin Laden, it must mean swift and certain death at the hands of our military and intelligence services. No other retribution will suffice.
Meanwhile life for the rest of us must go on, just as it did after Newtown, Sept. 11 and Oklahoma City. We cannot prevent every act of terror, as Boston demonstrates, but we cannot let terrorists of any stripe win by letting them scare us into altering our way of life. There will be other marathons, including here in New York, and the crowds will turn out as they always have. The same goes for baseball games, theater performances, New Year’s Eve and every other event for which people congregate en masse.
That doesn’t mean we don’t exercise vigilance, and we are. The NYPD said it has received three times as many reports of suspicious packages since the Boston attack as it normally does. LaGuardia Airport’s main terminal was briefly evacuated Tuesday after someone reported an odd package there. That’s an inconvenience but it beats the alternative. If you see something, you must say something.
Meanwhile it’s been reported that letters containing a poisonous substance were sent to the president and at least one U.S. senator this week, in an echo of the period after Sept. 11, 2001. They were intercepted, and further tests will be done to confirm if the substance is indeed the poison ricin. That’s a job for the government, just like finding out who was behind the Boston bombing. The rest of us can only go on, and hope that whoever committed this disgraceful act, for whatever reason, will soon pay the price for it.