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Tragedy in Boston, Kabul and Neskantaga

Peter Hogarth

April 18, 2013

On Monday April 15, a series of bombs exploded in an area where spectators were watching the final yards of the Boston Marathon. The blast killed three people, including an eight year-old boy from Dorchester, and injured more than 170 others.
There have been a lot of story lines that have emerged from this ugly event. The Islamophobic racial-profiling on full-display by police, media and other commentators; the dozens of people who rushed to the aid of the wounded; and the incredible work of nurses and doctors to tend to all those injuries.
Another that becomes quite obvious is the level of concern and solidarity expressed through social media, on the streets, in newspapers, sports and elsewhere. It is hard to miss all the sympathy being extended to the city of Boston and the people affected by this event.
It is easy for those of us who are ardent opponents of US imperialism to point out that there is an incredibly disproportionate level of coverage and discussion about a bombing that in other parts of the world happen every day—and with a level of professional, cold-blooded brutality that they could only come from the well-funded arsenals of NATO armed forces. We know the scale of the devastation wrought by US imperialism and its allies would mean there would never be enough hours in the day to profile all of its victims.
If Obama was genuine about his statement that “any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it’s an act of terrorism,” then he would condemn US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, and Israeli terror in Palestine.  If Harper was genuine about his statement that “when you see this type of violent act…you condemn it categorically,” then he would condemn the violent occupation of Afghanistan, and the ongoing colonial violence in Canada. While the Neskantaga First Nation has declared a state of emergency over a suicide epidemic, driven by colonial oppression, Harper has instead been paying his respects to Margaret Thatcher—who smashed the welfare state, launched a war in the Falklands and let Irish hunger strikers starve to death.
We need to stop these far greater expressions of state violence and terror, but that does not mean shrugging off ordinary people’s sympathy and caring for other human lives on display in Boston. There is nothing wrong with a newscaster taking time to give us a detailed look at the eight year-old life that was taken from the world on Monday. What we need is for every casualty of every bomb to be taken that seriously.
Let’s not scoff at the empathy on display for the victims in Boston. That is the kind of caring world we are fighting for. Let’s do everything in our power to extend those feelings of solidarity across every border, as we work for a future without capitalist borders.  
If you like this article, register now for Marxism 2013: Revolution In Our Time, a weekend-long conference of ideas to change the world. Sessions include "Indigenous resistance, Idle No More and the fight against Harper," "The origins of racism," and "Libya, Mali and Canadian imperialism."

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