In the weeks leading up to the anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings the media has focused its attention on those who survived their injuries. Perhaps the most notable example of this would be Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dancer who lost part of her left leg during the attacks. Last month, Haslet-Davis danced onstage in Vancouver on a special bionic, prosthetic leg designed by a team at MIT.
A few days ago, Haslet-Davis again made headlines. But this time it was because of walking rather than dancing. Haslet-Davis had been invited to participate in a panel discussion on NBC’s Meet the Press about the anniversary of the bombing. But when the Tsarnaev brothers were mentioned she walked off the set. Haslet-Davis contends that she had requested that the names of the bombers not be mentioned during the segment and that the producers had broken their promise. For its part, NBC News claims it made no such guarantee and insists there was a miscommunication. Whatever the circumstances, Haslet-Davis was furious. Here is part of what she wrote on her website:
To say that I am hurt is an understatement, for you not only disrespected me, you disrespected the survivors of the bombing and the victims memories by blatantly disregarding this request and putting the value of a terrorist’s name, who put a city in turmoil and caused irrevocable damage physically and emotionally to people of this city, over Boston’s integrity, fortitude, and my personal well being.
I understand how mentioning the bombers’ names would be too much to bear for Haslet-Davis and other survivors. It brings a pain greater than the physical injuries they sustained. I also understand the desire not to glorify the bombers as Rolling Stone did by putting the surviving brother on its cover last July. In a blog post I wrote titled “Would Rolling Stone Put George Zimmerman on Its Cover?” objecting to their decision, I argued that it had the effect of turning “a terrorist into a teen idol.”
Given that NBC News was dishonest in its presentation of Zimmerman’s statements on his 911 call, it is certainly possible that NBC News was not honest in its dealing with Haslet-Davis. If that is the case, then I second her shame on them. However, Haslet-Davis’ objections go much further. She argues that the mere mention of the Tsarnaev name disrespects both her and all those who survived the bombing. With this, I must disagree.
I would argue that by not mentioning the names of the perpetrators and more importantly the religious ideology that drove them to their act of evil does a greater disservice to both those who survived the Boston Marathon Bombings as well as those who did not survive.
We must acknowledge that terrorism committed in the name of Islam is a global phenomenon. What happened on the streets of Boston a year ago, at Fort Hood nearly five years ago, and at the World Trade Center a dozen years ago has also happened in London, Madrid and Mumbai over the past decade. There have also been numerous attacks against fellow Muslims between Iraq and Indonesia and until the construction of the separation fence it was nearly a daily occurrence in Israel.
It all the more important we acknowledge those responsible for committing terrorism in the name of Islam precisely because there are too many people who don’t want to acknowledge what is happening in front of them. The Obama Administration refuses to acknowledge that the shootings at Fort Hood in November 2009 were an act of Islamic terrorism despite the fact that Nidal Malik Hasan carried business cards indicating he was a SofA (Soldier of Allah) and was shouting “Allahu Akbar!!!” as he gunned down 12 soldiers and one civilian. The Obama Administration instead called the Fort Hood shootings an act of “workplace violence.” By that measure the attacks of September 11, 2001 were the largest act of workplace violence in history.
As Boylston Street was covered in blood, Chris Matthews was blaming the “far right” for the attacks and noted that federal taxes were due on April 15. Former Obama right hand man David Axelrod also noted it was “tax day.” Although neither Matthews nor Axelrod mentioned it by name they were clearly implicating the Tea Party despite the fact that no Tea Party activist has ever been arrested for assault against a person or for damaging property much less shooting a police officer. Then there was David Sirota of Salon openly rooting for the attackers to be white Americans. And by white Americans, Sirota meant conservative Christians. If that wasn’t bad enough, Rand Paul’s pal Alex Jones was calling it a “false flag” operation and had one of his associates infiltrate a press conference to pose that question to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. To his credit, Patrick curtly dismissed the question.
If the bombers had not been stopped in Watertown, they would have headed south on I-95 for New York with their sights set on Times Square and could very well have succeeded where Faisal Shahzad failed in May 2010. Although terrorist attacks on Times Square have twice been averted, it remains a target. With tens of thousands of people walking through Times Square at all hours of day, how could it not be a target for aspiring jihadists? I have a horrible feeling that one day I will have to write about thousands more people killed and injured in New York in the name of Islam. If I do, I also have a horrible feeling there will be others content to blame such an act on the Tea Party, wish it was white Americans, or rationalize it as a false flag operation.
When it comes to the Boston Marathon Bombings one year later, it is important we acknowledge the resilience of survivors like Adrianne Haslet-Davis in overcoming the loss of part of her leg. Yet it is equally important that we acknowledge the reasons why Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost part of her leg in the first place.