LZ Granderson: April 15, 2013, bombings a reminder of ever-present threat of terrorism
He says September 11, 2001, changed our world; now we know "safety" isn't going to return
President Obama didn't use word "terrorism" but everyone knows that's what it's about, he says
Editor’s Note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and was a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.
If September 11, 2001, was the day everything changed, then April 15, 2013, serves as another reminder of that change, of our frailties and of a new reality in which “it can’t happen here” has been replaced by “it can happen anywhere.”
When initial reports came out of Boston about two explosions occurring near the finish line of the 116th marathon – a marathon that began with 26 seconds of silence in honor of the 26 victims of the Newtown massacre – we held our collective breaths and hoped it was a freak infrastructure accident.
Or compromised electrical wiring.
Or a gas leak.
Anything other than …
President Barack Obama did not say the word “terrorism” in his brief address, perhaps waiting until more facts are learned. We don’t know how many are responsible, we don’t know motive, if any, and we don’t know whether it’s domestic or foreign. But we do know the FBI said the explosions were well-planned. We know the Boston Marathon is seen around the world. And we know three people are dead, including an 8-year-old boy, more than 100 are injured, and countless lives have been scarred.
So if September 11, 2001, was the day our innocence was taken, then April 15, 2013, is the reminder that it is never coming back.
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And we do not need the president to say the word to feel the word.
It is felt each time we have to take off our shoes at the airport, have an TSA officer pat us down, throw away a tube of toothpaste because it’s over the allotted 3.4 ounces. The FAA temporarily restricted flights over the bombing site while security was increased in cities as far away as Miami and Los Angeles.
We do not need the president to say the word to feel it.
I was in central London earlier this month and was having a difficult time finding a garbage can whenever I had something to discard. Finally, I asked some of the residents why it was so hard to find one and was reminded that the Irish Republican Army hid bombs in garbage cans during the 1990s and as a result they are still seen as a security threat.
This is what happens when evil like the kind experienced in Boston takes away our innocence.
It forces us to empty our pockets, have our bags inspected and remove trash cans from the streets of a major international city.
We don’t need the president to say the word to be reminded constantly that if we see something, we need to say something, blurring the lines between a healthy awareness of our surroundings and irrational paranoia. But then again, is our paranoia that irrational if something as celebratory as the Boston Marathon is no longer a safe place to be?
If September 11, 2001, made you cry, then April 15, 2013, should make you angry.
All of the laws, the creation of Homeland Security, the trillions spent, the political grandstanding and debates and yet the best we can do is make the country safer. We will never, ever be safe again. Not in the way many of us remember being safe growing up.
When I’m in a large crowded space, I check for emergency exits … and I hate it.
But like love and good, evil is an omnipresent force imposing itself on the rest of society like an untreatable cancer. So while Obama telling the American people those responsible will “feel the full weight of justice,” we are haunted by the fact that “justice” won’t bring the victims back.
“Justice” won’t undo the fear embedded in the people who were closest to the blast. “Justice” won’t take us back to September 10, 2001 … back before the word “terrorism” was on the tip of every American’s tongue.
And make no mistake, while the president did not use that word in his news conference, that is the word federal authorities are using. Doesn’t matter if the culprits of this heinous act came from afar or home. The origin of the person or persons responsible won’t bring us the peace that we took for granted not so long ago. That peace is gone, forever. Our children will hear stories about this peace and our children’s children will treat it as a fairy tale.
If April 15, 2013, was the day the Boston Marathon became a target for terrorism, then September 11, 2001, was the day we all were warned that it would be. Since then nothing has been the same.
Nothing will be the same.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.