NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 4, 2013

The zenith of absurdity

“Two weeks ago today, two brothers are alleged to have set off a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left three dead — including an 8-year-old boy — and injured 282. At least 14 lost limbs. Our president implored us not to “jump to conclusions” and thus end up stereotyping his favorite faith. ... In the interim, a friend sent me a link to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists website. With one exception (a convert named Adam), all had names like Ibrahim, Abdul, Omar, Jamal, Abdullah, Ramadan, Hasan, Mohammed and Muhammad. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.”

— Don Feder, “It’s the Islam, Stupid”

Don Feder was my boss, from 1978-1980, until he left Citizens for Limited Taxation and I eventually took over his job as executive director. Back then, he was a libertarian, now is far more a traditional conservative; though we keep in touch, we have had our differences over the years. Ascribing blame for the Boston terrorist attack isn’t one of them.

Sometimes I’m uncomfortable, expressing outrage over things that have not directly affected me as they have more justifiably outraged people. No one I know was killed in the twin towers or injured in Boston. My son called to check on me last week; he also wanted to note that while I fretted about his taking my grandchildren to Mexico for spring break, he could have brought them here to visit me and then to view the marathon instead.

I get the point: There is no safe place, no reason to spend my life worrying, so I shouldn’t have called his cellphone in Baja because I read about revolutionaries battling the drug cartel in a town on the Mexican mainland, “on the other side of the Sea of Cortez, Mother!”

Grandmothers will worry as long as there’s evil in the world. So even if we haven’t suffered a terrible loss ourselves, one of the things that make us human gives us empathy with other people: Our imagination easily places us where they are, in a hospital, at a funeral. We even have empathy with people very different from us, as we send contributions for disaster relief to faraway countries.

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