I just heard news of the explosions in Boston. I know of no better way to describe such a thing than shameful cowardice. It was a terrible wrong, and my heart goes out to all who were hurt and the many more affected.
Before we begin wringing our hands, however, at the political use of this event that will be made — and it will — let us be prepared to respond intelligently. Making political use of an act of violence or terrorism is, in itself, not wrong. It is a question of ends and means. The question is: To what end does the political use aim?
Politics of Freedom in the Midst of Fire
When British soldiers fired upon un-armed men in what became known as the Boston Massacre, freedom-fighters made political use of it to advance the cause of freedom. Later, when British warships sailed up the Hudson River, and attacked positions of the Continental Army, freedom-fighters made political use of it to advance the cause of freedom.
We could list many other examples, but I think I make the point. Men and women died today on American soil. It is unclear who did the deed. Let us find and punish them. Let us send a signal to the world that we will tolerate no more.
What Boston Means, Politically
In the meantime, we should not attack those who make political use of this. To do so is to attack human nature, which is thoroughly political.
Rather, let us clarify the proper end to which such politics should be aimed: the safety and robust self-defense of Americans and our friends who come to visit on our soil, including those who come to run in our races. Let us bend this terrible day to do all we can to enable Americans to protect themselves, individually and as a nation. And for those who want to use this sad, sad event for the opposite end, let us challenge them relentlessly.