On Political Tuesdays I let myself get more philosophical than most days on my blog, and range freely over the political and cultural landscape. It's not my intent to give offense in such posts, just to record my interaction with current events. But I reserve the right to think freely here, and if you are one who is easily offended by differing opinions you may be happier in a different corner of the internet, at least on Tuesdays.
I first learned to wonder, "What is it about April, anyway?" in 1995, the Oklahoma City bombing. Waco, two years earlier, was just another mishandled aspect of the Clinton administration I tried not to pay attention to. Then there were the school shootings; at Columbine, just down the street a few miles. I remember pulling the little boys back inside for safety as helicopters circled until late in the night. Little Elian Gonzales, stolen from his family at gunpoint, again a Clintonian blunder. Then as a teacher myself, I became more aware of the rhythm of the school year, the "spring fever" phenomenon. Yeah, kids do crazy and unpredictable things in the spring, just when you'd think they would see the light at the end of the school year tunnel. The ancients called it "Naufragium in portu facere" - to make a shipwreck in harbor. Why is that? Why do kids drop out, run away from home, pick a fight with their families, or make a disastrously bad choice that will ruin their lives right before they reach a positive milestone? I don't know more than anyone else. But I've learned to cringe through April, both on the personal and the national scale. Maybe national leaders are just overgrown children, making bad choices and doing random things in the spring just like so many schoolchildren. And then there are the obvious bad guys. They take random to a whole new level.
The carnage in Boston is clearly the work of a psychopath, and a very anti-American psychopath at that. I would think an anti-government kook would target a federal building or an IRS convention; a deranged madman would stick with schools and movie theaters; but this attack on athletes and civic celebration has the feel of our terrorist enemies from the Middle East, and the methodology was designed to maim and terrorize more than kill. Whether the criminals will be caught and brought to justice is uncertain. Whether our current leadership is even competent to prosecute a campaign for justice, rather than a political campaign, is even more doubtful. We know that the left is utterly opposed to using American military force to wage war on terrorist states, and the American public is at best flaky about supporting such efforts. John Kerry would be the hard-headed negotiator in charge of any diplomatic solutions; I can just see him now, riding his swift boat to narcissism. No, I don't have a lot of confidence in political solutions for the Boston attacks, any more than there are political solutions for school massacres. I hope for justice nonetheless.
I do see a certain chilling parallelism in the terrorism of yesterday and the moral and cultural decline of the last 40 years. And before I am charged with saying that God is judging America for gay marriage and abortion, credit me with being a little more nuanced than that. America is judging herself. There is a retributive principle of justice here, one that has been ignored in this country for my whole generation. We are simply reaping what we have sown. For forty years the lives of millions of our youngest children have been snuffed out in the privacy of clinics and doctors' offices, if they were somehow inconvenient to us: the emanations and penumbras of the Constitution told us this was permissible. Now we are surprised that we have enemies who want to kill our athletes in the flower of their youth and strength. Kermit Gosnell collected severed baby feet in jars in his Philadelphia abortion clinic for years, never inspected by health authorities or questioned by journalists, who said they were too squeamish to deal properly with the subject. "I am someone who cringes when I hear a description of a sprained ankle." Now the severed limbs of adult victims scroll across our Facebook feeds for all of us to see. C.S. Lewis had a profound observation about the moral bankruptcy of the 20th century: "We castrate, and bid the gelding be fruitful." In the 21st century, we kill our children, and bid their surviving siblings build a just and enlightened society.