While a suspect or suspects may have been identified in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, it may still take days, or even weeks, to truly find out more about the exact motivation behind these attacks and about the person or persons behind them.
But it’s not too soon to consider why terrorists, foreign and domestic, take the actions that they do.
Foreign terrorists, like the members of Al Qaeda who attacked us on 9/11, and domestic terrorists that attack America often have specific grievances against our nation.
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In the case of Al Qaeda, they attacked us on 9/11 largely because Bin Laden was offended that we still had US troops on Saudi soil, and he was horrified that we may “westernize” his little variation of the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, a domestic terrorist, whether they are from the far-right or far-left, often have specific grievances with what the American government is or is not doing.
From left-wing window smashing attacks during WTO meetings and Occupy protests to the right-wing bombing attacks of Oklahoma City and the 1996 Olympics, there is always some underlying grievance that the perpetrators have.
And, when it comes to right-wing extremist attacks, the grievance against America is almost always related to the meme of “big government.”
But where is the meme of “big government causes all of society’s ills” really coming from?
When Eric Rudolph, the 1996 Olympic bomber was captured, he shed some light on why he committed the bombings.
Rudolph said that he thought the Olympics, by bringing together athletes from throughout the world on an equal basis, promoted the “despicable ideals” of “global socialism.”
How many times a day does a talking head in the right-wing media and blogosphere argue that America is turning into a socialist country? How many times a day do they argue that “big government” is the cause of all of our nation’s problems?
“The government” is the constant “enemy” of right-wingers who are often funded by billionaires.
Speaking about Hilary Clinton, Dick Armey once said that, “Hillary Clinton bothers me a lot. I realized the other day that her thoughts sound a lot like Karl Marx. She hangs around a lot of Marxists. All her friends are Marxists.”
And then there’s Charles Koch, who speaking back in October of 2012 said that, “I think it’s scary with this administration that is fundamentally dedicated to transforming this country, and that means bigger and bigger government, more intrusive, less productivity, less opportunity. And so who does that hurt the most? Hurts the poorest people.”
The poorest people hear that and, sadly, think maybe there’s some truth to it.
And, while billionaire-backers of the right who speak ill about the government are bad enough, the meme that “big government” is the cause of all our problems is perpetuated each and every day in the right-wing media.
Billionaires don’t want “big government” because when the government stops funding the commons, things like schools, hospitals and water and power systems, then billionaires can grab those natural monopolies and squeeze more and more money out of working people.
While all the talk by billionaires and the right wing media about “big government” might be good for massive transnational corporations and the wealth elite, it’s shaken the people’s confidence in America, and in the idea of Lincoln’s government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Don’t forget, the founders of our country fought and died so that we could have the type of government that we do. They fought and died for a government that looked out for all of the people, rich and poor.
We used to believe in our form of government.
But now, it’s attacked daily by right-wingers on the radio, the web, the television and in Congress.
And, while they attack our form of government, they freak out when somebody mentions the decades of violence that have been dumped on us by people who “hated” or were “afraid” of the government.
Anti-government talk, when in the abstract, is corrosive, and it activates the crazies to come out of the woodwork, and unleash violence on our society.
When that anti-government talk is specific, for example with discussions of with drones, spying or torture, it’s a good thing, and an important dialogue to have. That’s democracy in a republic.
But when the United States is routinely attacked with slurs like “big government,” so much so that it’s hammered into our psyches, we shouldn’t be surprised to see right-wing extremists turn violent.
We don’t know exactly what happened yet in Boston or all the details of why. But we do know what happened in Atlanta, Waco, Oklahoma City, and with the Unabomber, among hundreds of others so well documented over at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Our founders fought and died for this nation – for goodness sake, George Washington had three horses shot out from under him, or so the story goes.
If we don’t like something our government is doing, let’s have a serious dialogue about it. Let’s discuss it. Let’s vote on it.
But let’s not demonize America itself, government itself, and consistently paint our democratic republic as the source of all of our problems. Not only does such behavior accomplish virtually nothing, but it brings the crazies (of all stripes) out of the woodwork.