Reactions to the bombing of the Boston marathon tell us more about the writers than they do about the bombings. From both sides of the Atlantic we have responses which can only be described as repugnant.
Here in Britain it was not unusual to read articles which pointed out that Boston had been a major fund raising centre for the Provisional IRA as they carried out their bombing campaign in the United Kingdom for more than thirty years. More were murdered by the PIRA and their ilk than died in the twin towers. Resentment at the consequences of sentimental Irish Americans funding terrorists is understandable. To use the bombing of a sporting event which resulted in the deaths of three people and the severe injury of scores of others as an opportunity to say “Serves you right, now you know what it’s like” is not the response of an adult.
From the USA there was an even worse response. The progressive Salon website published a heartfelt plea that the bomber would be a white American male. This is not because David Serota the author of the article thought, in good progressive fashion, that there should be a racial quota for bombers. Rather he thought that this might prevent a backlash against Muslims in the USA. He was probably recalling the massive violent backlash against Muslims following 9/11.
Oh, we remember now, there was no massive violent backlash against Muslims. Instead there were a few instances of name calling and even one or two assaults, but the great mass of the USA’s 300,000,000 citizens reacted in a remarkably mature fashion. They realised that practically all of the USA’s Muslim population were just as horrified as their fellow citizens.
It is a natural reaction to be protective of groups with which one has an intimate connection. Before it became clear that it was another jihadist atrocity most white Christian Americans no doubt hoped that it wasn’t, as the media widely hinted, a white Christian American who planted the bombs. Equally it is beyond doubt that the vast majority of America’s Muslims hoped that the terrorists would not be their co-religionists.
Why should Serota write such a repugnant article? He hoped that it would be a white American terrorist as that would fit in with his progressive view of society. If it were a white Christian American no doubt that would be even better. If it were a white Christian American who was an adherent of the Tea Party his cup would be full and overflowing.
When it is acceptable to write an article openly stating that you hope that an appalling atrocity was committed by people with whom you disagree politically you have departed from rational discourse. If a white supremacist had stated that he had hoped that the Sandy Hook killer had been a black gang member he would be called out for racist hate speech, and rightly so. If a Christian had stated that he had hoped that the Breivik atrocity had been committed by jihadists he would be called out for Islamophobic hate speech, and rightly so.
Serota revealed that he did not really care about the horror. What he really cared about was any political advantage which could be gained from the horror. It is possible for progressives to be guilty of racist hate speech.