How Individualism Will Help Us After the Bombs

The news has been dominated by the footage of the horrible attack on the Boston Marathon.  Once again, an act of terrorism has ripped open the veil of false security we live under here in the United States.

At this point, nobody knows who is responsible for the bombing, but I give the news media approximately two more days before the finger-pointing begins.  Was it “right wing extremists?”  Or was it “Islamic terrorists?”

Don’t fall into this trap!  People are individuals, not groups.  The person or persons who planned and executed this attack acted as individuals, not as a representative of a group.  Never forget that.  Provided each individual was free to make their own decision (barring family members being taken hostage or some other circumstance), the attack was done by an individual or a few individuals.

Tribalism is a dangerous form of collectivism in that it is easy to believe.  We saw an attack on Oklahoma City conducted by Timothy McVeigh and a few accomplices.  It became easy to blame “right wing extremists” for the attack, and worse than that- be suspect of any other “right wing extremist”.  However, “right wing extremist” was never defined.  Similarly, after the 9/11 attacks, we sought to punish any “Islamic extremist”, with no such definition in sight.

These acts were committed by individuals.  Blame the individual.  If you blame the “groups” with which they identify, you are saying that the individual does not matter, and that all punishment belongs to a group- who may or may not have been involved in the attack.  This leads to guilt by association and guilt until proven innocence, as all one has to do to be guilty is belong or appear to belong to a group.

Regardless of who was responsible, stop yourself from saying, “well, you know, those Muslims do things like this” or “well, you know, those right-wing extremists do things like this”.

Wrong.  An individual did this.  We can blame an individual for school shootings.  Why can’t we for other acts of terror?  Is there something magical about killing people with a bomb instead of a gun?



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One Response to “How Individualism Will Help Us After the Bombs”

  1. tiffany267 Says:

    Nicely written post – interesting point of view. Thanks for sharing.

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