Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Blog
In the wake of the horrific attacks last week in Boston, law enforcement, lawmakers, members of the media, and the American public scrambled to make sense of what can only be described as a senseless act of carnage. As the investigation continues to uncover the motives behind the Tsarnev brothers’ act of terror, a period of speculation, frustration and genuine fear grips our country. In the week of exigency following last Monday’s attacks, many elected officials and members of the media injected counter-productive and potentially detrimental rhetoric and misinformation into the discussion about the bombings. Two glaring examples of such rhetoric are found in remarks made by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and in irresponsible reporting from the New York Post.
In an attempt to jump out ahead of competition, the New York Post published a photo of two innocent men of Arab descent, claiming that authorities were looking for them in connection to the bombings. The report falsely alluded that the two men were apparent suspects in the attacks. It turned out the two men were completely innocent.
Last week, and again yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Rep. Peter King argued that the Boston bombings were proof that surveillance such as the NYPD’s controversial and illegal spying program, which targeted Arab Americans and American Muslims, should be expanded all over the country. Without knowing a single fact about the Tsarnev brothers’ motivations for the attacks, Rep. King defaulted to a one-size-fits-all approach to national security (profiling and surveillance of Muslims) and, of course, to his favorite talking points about the efficacy of the NYPD’s spying program, already debunked by the Pulitzer-winning Associated Press team that first brought the spying program to light. Rep. King told the National Review “Police have to be in the community, they have to build up as many sources as they can, and they have to realize that the threat is coming from the Muslim community and increase surveillance there.”
Despite the perpetuation of misinformation and, at times, downright vitriol thrown around in the wake of Boston, there have also been examples of leadership and tempered statements from leadership, most notably from the President in last week’s address to the nation.
Here is an important excerpt from the President’s speech
One thing we do know is that whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not -- cannot -- prevail. Whatever they thought they could ultimately achieve, they've already failed. They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated. They failed because, as Americans, we refused to be terrorized. They failed because we will not waver from the character and the compassion and the values that define us as a country. Nor will we break the bonds that hold us together as Americans.
That American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong -- like no other nation in the world. In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there's a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions. But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it's important that we do this right. That's why we have investigations. That's why we relentlessly gather the facts. That's why we have courts. And that's why we take care not to rush to judgment -- not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.
After all, one of the things that makes America the greatest nation on Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is that we welcome people from all around the world -- people of every faith, every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe. So as we continue to learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let's make sure that we sustain that spirit.
The President’s speech reflects the tempered approach all lawmakers and experts should take in response to this horrible tragedy. Stoking fears, disseminating false information, and jumping to conclusions will only serve to divide us. Lawmakers should follow the President’s lead.