Reflections on The Austin Bombings

Several people in town have been killed by exploding packages. The victims seem random with a likely tinge of racism.

I think this put the whole city on edge a bit. A few delivery drivers at work had guns pulled on them. Grumblings about racial tension. Town hall meetings. I had a dream the other night of being in the blast radius of an exploding building. Friends and family seemed concerned and uneasy.

Is this what terrorism feels like?

The perpetrator killed himself last night with a bomb while fleeing from police in a car. A miserable, cowardly death. We get facts and details but no closure. Why do these things happen at all?

More disturbingly, given that these awful things do happen why don’t they happen more often?

If I’m to pay any attention to my dream the other night my subconscious mulls this over in the background. Pondering these things put me in a glum mood but having a place to write a few poorly articulated thoughts on the subject has been a cathartic exercise in its own small way.


Update 3/31


As we look around for answers.

Whenever there’s a news story about someone killing lots of strangers, I cannot stop thinking about the book I read a couple years ago about the Columbine massacare called ‘Columbine’ by Dave Cullen. I will quote the passages that still stick with me below:

“None of the earlier school shootings had been televised; few American tragedies had. Or at least it appeared that way: the cameras offered the illusion we were witnessing the event. But the cameras had arrived too late. Eric and Dylan had retreated inside after five minutes. The cameras missed the outside murders and could not follow Eric and Dylan outside. The fundamental experience fore most of America was almost witnessing mass murder. It was the panic and frustration of not knowing, the mounting terror of horror withheld, just out of view.”


“Mass murderers tended to work alone, but when they did pair up, they rarely chose their mirror image. [FBI hostage negotiator] Fuselier knew he was much more likely to find a pair of opposites holed up in that building. It was entirely possible that there was no single whyand much more likely that he would unravel one motive for Eric, another for Dylan.”


National polls taken shortly after the attack would identify all sorts of culprits contributing to the tragedy: violent movies, video games, Goth culture, lax gun laws, bullies, and Satan. Eric did not make the list. Dylan didn’t either. They were just kids. Something or someone must have led them astray.


“For investigators, the big bombs changed everything: the scale, the method, and the motive of attack. Above all, it had been indiscriminate. Everyone was supposed to die. Columbine was fundamentally different from the other school shootings. It had not really been intended as a shooting at all. Primarily, it had been a bombing that failed.”


“The final act of the killers was among their cruelest: they deprived the survivors of a living perpetrator. They deprived the families of a focus for their anger, and their blame. There would be no cathartic trail for the victims. There was no killer to rebuke in a courtroom, no judge to implore to impose the maximum penalty. South Jeffco was seething with anger, and it would be deprived of a reasonable target. Displaced anger would riddle the community for years.”


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