You know what's the wrong way to try to motivate Americans? Harm innocents.
I was musing about incidents of highly-visible violence in this country and the popular reaction to them, from Ruby Ridge to the Haymarket bombing and riot, from Kent State to Oklahoma City, from the World Trade Center horror to yesterday's Boston Marathon bombing and there's really only one common thread: innocents were harmed.
Judge it however you will, but most people in this country do not so very much mind if bank robbers and drug dealers shoot one another or the Feds fatally take down Dillinger on a public sidewalk, as long as no otherwise uninvolved bystanders get hurt. Even when the "bystanders" hurt or killed are firmly on one side or another of the issue at hand -- Davad Koresh's followers, the police and labor agitators at Haymarket -- there's a strong sense of outrage.
Acts of terrorism are generally presumed to be done to provoke ever more extreme reactions, thereby polarizing the largely-uncommitted masses. In this country, that usually does not work; instead, we react to the perpetrators as we react to cockroaches. Likewise, police actions of the "overwhelming force" sort are supposed to shut down a bad situation rapidly; and they, too, have a history of failure or at least undesired outcome when they extend to include innocents.
The reaction cuts across party, ideology, socioeconomic class, region: do harm to folks who didn't have it coming, and you have incurred the wrath of not merely The Authorities but the majority of an entire nation.
Whoever it was bombed the Boston Marathon, lone madman, political direct activist, whatever: wherever you are, we're coming for you.
4 weeks ago