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MUHAMMAD: Our Curious National 'Celebrations'

Askia Muhammad | 4/24/2013, 9 p.m.
Askia Muhammad

I literally ache at the thought of innocent suffering.

The images in my mind of children beaten or molested by their parents or other adults; or of a woman beaten by an abusive spouse or boyfriend; children, women, other civilians murdered by drone strikes sent to rain fire on them by adolescent minds playing with joysticks at consoles in Langley, Va.; high school honor students, bystanders dropped by stray bullets in drive-by shootings; men, women, gas station attendants, beaten and robbed by criminals who see them as targets for getting easy money; the targets of Dudley-Do-Right village-vigilante-stalkers wanting to make their neighborhoods safe for White people; innocent movie goers minding their own business cut down by mad men; defenseless children eagerly looking forward to a new day of learning, dispatched instead to tiny coffins by lunatics maybe just seeking a thrill; athletes, their well-wishers and family members blown to smithereens at sporting events; all those images make me cringe.

I offer my sincere condolences to the victims and family members of those cut-down by the Boston Marathon bombs, and for the police officer in Cambridge, Mass., last week and all police and firefighters who are killed or maimed when they run toward danger when it occurs, not away from it, in order to protect the rest of us.

But I find it odd, and a little off-putting to see people all over the country celebrate, as if with one voice at the successful termination of a catastrophic event.

Folks here in Washington rushed into Lafayette Park across the street from the White House waving flags and chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A,” when President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been assassinated.

Similarly, people rushed into the streets of Watertown, Mass., waving flags at police as if they were conquering heroes, when the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was captured. It was the greatest manhunt in Boston-area history, literally hundreds upon hundreds of police, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, militarized units kept practically, the entire New England region literally on lockdown for more than 24 hours while one teenager managed to elude capture.

In one shootout with police, the heavily armed cops literally “ran out of bullets,” allowing the suspect to drive through their perimeter, then, though seriously injured, escape on foot, because none of them bothered to establish a secure perimeter around the area of the shootout. There was a secure enough perimeter to literally keep hundreds of curious news media members out of the area, but it wasn’t secure enough to prevent a seriously wounded, badly bleeding man from penetrating that same perimeter on foot.

Then, police and SWAT units exhaustively searched a 20-block area, house-by-house-by-house for hours on end, finally giving up in desperation, conceding that the suspected perpetrator had slipped through their dragnet, only to be informed by a citizen that their wanted fugitive may have been hiding out in a boat in his backyard. The capture of a desperate, lone fugitive after such an ordeal as this is something worth lining the streets to wave flags and cheer about? I don’t think so.

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