“You Will Run Again”: Top Commentary on Boston Marathon Bombing

TIME Ideas rounds up the most thought-provoking pieces about the tragedy in Boston

  • Share
  • Read Later
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

A woman looks at a street memorial near the scene of twin bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts

The explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon on April 15 left the country reeling. While investigators apprehend the suspects, commenters have taken to the web to provide insight on what the bombings mean for America. Did we miss one? Share the opinions that caught your attention this week in the comment section. 

“The Saudi Marathon Man” in The New Yorker

Who: Amy Davidson, senior editor at The New Yorker

The Idea: As police searched for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, one Saudi man was heavily guarded at the hospital. Later, federal officials would search his home and interview his roommate. Finally, a day later, officials announced that he was not a suspect, but a witness. “What made them suspect him?” asks Davidson. “Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?” We get so close to being selfless, compassionate and unafraid in times of tragedy, Davidson says, but then we profile people without caution. “What’s missing?” Davidson asks. “Is it humility?”

Sum-it-up Quote: “The bombing could, for all we know, be the work of a Saudi man—or an American or an Icelandic or a person from any nation you can think of. It still won’t mean that this Saudi man can be treated the way he was … It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least.”

(MORE: Cover Story—Horror and Heroism)

“The Boston Marathon Bombing: Keep Calm and Carry On” on The Atlantic

Who: Bruce Schneier, security expert and author

The Idea: The hard truth about events like the Boston bombings is that “we will never be 100-percent safe from terrorism,” Schneier says.  “We need to accept that.” Instead of exaggerating the threats that terrorists pose to our nation, we should “refuse to be terrorized.” It’s a tough thing to do, Schneier admits, but terrorist attacks are still “rare” — “something that almost never happens.” It’s important for citizens to keep that in perspective, he says. “Criminal masterminds are another myth from movies and comic books.”

Sum-it-up Quote: “Terrorism isn’t primarily a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed.”

(MORE: Fareed Zakaria: Resilience and Complacency)

“Please Stop Talking About How Flinty and Resilient Boston Is” on Slate

Who: Luke O’Neil, journalist

The Idea: Boston is more than just a sport-loving city with lots of “things to do and look at,” but you wouldn’t know it by the way people (both residents and non-residents) are expressing pride after the marathon bombings, says O’Neil. While at first the outpouring of support felt like a show of solidarity, O’Neil says it quickly “took on a stranger tone, as if this was first an foremost an opportunity to champion the flinty New England spirit,” with memes showcasing the city’s sports mascots to the fictional rouge Irishmen from The Boondock Saints. “Sure Boston is tough and resilient, but opposed to where? Is there any city that we wouldn’t say as much about in the wake of something like this?”

Sum-it-up Quote: “How about we stop focusing on how we’re all Bostonians today and remember that we’re all humans.”

(MORE: Tragedy in Boston: One Photographer’s Eyewitness Account)

“Runners, the Marathon Does Matter” in the Boston Globe

Who: Matthew Bernstein, letters editor, the Boston Globe
The Idea: Even after the attacks that rocked the Boston marathon, the race — and the art of running — still matters, says Bernstein. “In the best of circumstances, running a marathon is a punishing experience. But it’s not one we normally associate with survivor guilt.” The experience on this particular race day might be sullied, but it still matters that the runners trained hard, started the race and finished or not finished. “The takeaway is to celebrate what can never be taken away.”

Sum-it-up Quote: “The lesson here is not to dismiss, even for an instant, the shared heartbreak that will forever mark our experience of this particular 2013 day. But runners need a way to honor the hours, the miles, the sweat, the discipline, the achievement of running beyond their capacity to continue.”

(MORE: Boston Bombing: World Reacts with Flood of Tributes)

“Boston Bomb Attack No Excuse for Media Speculation” in Bloomberg View

Who: Jeffrey Goldberg, columnist

The Idea: “Part of talking for a living is knowing when to shut up,” Goldberg says, regarding New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof’s tweet immediately following the Boston attacks. That early into the investigation, no one knew what had happened, but as Goldberg has personally learned in the past: “There will be time to analyze and criticize and learn from whatever it is we just saw. But not today. Please, let’s wait to find out who did this and why it happened.”

Sum-it-up Quote: “In an era in which none of us like to leave anything unsaid, and in which technology offers us the opportunity to say things fast, we often succumb to the urge to speculate.”