David Sirota at Salon on the unknown Boston bomber How policymakers respond to the Boston Marathon bombings will hinge on the racial identity of the perpetrator, argues David Sirota. "If the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist ... the attack [will likely be] portrayed as just an isolated incident — one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates. ... It will probably be much different if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world. As we know from our own history, when those kind of individuals break laws in such a high-profile way, America often cites them as both proof that entire demographic groups must be targeted." He continues: "Coming at the very moment the U.S. government is planning to withdraw from Afghanistan ... and debating landmark immigration legislation, the [Boston bombing] could easily become the fulcrum of all of those contentious policy debates — that is, depending on the demographic profile of the assailant." Writer Tim Wise agrees, writing, "If this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas." And Amy Davidson at The New Yorker says that the chaos on Monday is no excuse for appeals to racial discrimination. "It is at these moments that we need to be most careful, not least."
Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review on the children of Newtown "Instead of engaging his critics on substance, the president has done his level best to circumvent the debate by transmuting a dispute over the wisdom of new laws into an up or down vote on whether or not one is sad about gun violence," declares Charles C.W. Cooke, who weighs the rhetoric of pro-gun-control policy makers against the actual tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. "It makes no rational sense whatsoever to privilege the testimony of Newtown’s parents in our deliberations. The children of Sandy Hook were randomly chosen victims of abhorrent and reckless violence. ... Cruel as it might seem to observe, you are not afforded greater insight into the legal and economic questions surrounding gun control because a bullet fired by a madman has hit you or somebody you love." Cooke thinks this strategy, which "betrays a certain desperation," ultimately paid off for opponents of more restrictive gun policies, referring to The Washington Post's recent admission that "nothing proposed in the gun-control debates would have prevented the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and everybody knows it." Jonathan Chait of New York agreed with Cooke's conclusion but not his lesson. "Gun control was suddenly thrust onto the political agenda by a shocking event, but with little groundwork laid," he notes, adding, "Newtown did not change the world. Any real effort to address the plague of mass gun violence will require not a catalyzing event, or even a string of them, but years of organizing and effort."