Editor's note: Margaret Hoover is the author of "American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party."
(CNN) -- In this installment of "The Big Three," John Avlon, Dean Obeidallah and I discuss the top news in a crowded news week.
First, of course, is the Boston Marathon bombing, which shocked and captivated the country. Second, we look at the failure of universal background checks to pass the U.S. Senate despite the support of nearly 90% of Americans. And third -- on a lighter note -- we note Justin Beiber's self-absorbed understanding of Anne Frank's legacy.
I was in Boston on Monday when the blasts erupted at the marathon finish line. I arrived at Logan Airport and was scheduled to participate in a panel discussion at Harvard University's Institute of Politics. As I pulled up to the Kennedy School of Public Policy, the building was being evacuated for bomb threats, and reports -- which later turned out to be false -- of another explosion at the JFK Presidential Library. Boston was, understandably, in a panic.
Monday brought back memories of 9/11 for all Americans. In our podcast, we talked about the public reaction to this attack. We cite examples such as liberal radio host Dave Sirota and Rep. Steve King's polarized projections on the attack and its perpetrators, and look at how and why we've changed over the past 12 years.
Four months after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a bipartisan compromise amendment to secure universal background checks failed in Senate. John and Dean expressed a combination of fury and frustration that the Senate failed to pass a single gun control measure. While I understand their frustration and favor background checks, I'm wary of passing laws that make us feel safer but do little to actually prevent the next Newtown.
On a much lighter note, we decided to take on Justin Beiber's visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, inspired by an excellent column Dean wrote for CNN.com. Beiber visited the historic home and Holocaust memorial and wrote in the guest book, "Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber."
This inane bit of Hollywood self-reference reflects the dumbing down of America, courtesy of our obsession with celebrity gossip instead of civics and history. One possible silver lining: This was a teaching moment for thousands of Beliebers who had never heard of Anne Frank. Get a real hero, folks.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Margaret Hoover.