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Columbia Missourian

DAVID ROSMAN: Don't jump to conclusions in placing blame

By David Rosman
April 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Boston. The Marathon. Bombing. Words that never should have been in the same sentence.

It is just past midnight on Tuesday morning. Nightline is over and the news remains grim. Three dead and 144 injured. (CNN just confirmed the numbers.) A day of celebration became a day of terror and mourning. This is not what Patriots' Day in Boston was supposed to look like.

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I had just come home from a doctor’s appointment and was trying to catch up with my email, always a long endeavor on a Monday. I try, but I'm not always successful at staying off the computer on the weekends. Curious enough, my smartphone had remained quiet for most of the morning. No “pings” telling me a new text had arrived. It was just after 2 p.m. when the song of the text was followed with “Explosion at Boston Marathon.” My heart, like yours, sank.

I used to be a runner but can’t do that anymore — knees will not let me go for more than a few blocks right now. But I have friends who still run, a few are marathoners. I know none had qualified for the Boston race, but I am worried about them just the same.

The explosions were caught on video and were shown over and over again. So much so that it became mesmerizing. Much like the 1986 Challenger disaster, watching the explosion over and over again, at least 1,000 times in the hours after the disaster, engrained into memory. Boston created the same hypnotic spell of unimaginable death. I could not stop watching.

We seem to forget the sheer number of terrorist attacks, foreign and domestic, on United States soil.

The first I really remember was the 1975 Christmas Day bombing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The 1993 on the World Trade Center. I watched the imagery repeat on a continuous loop — people leaving the WTC 1 with injuries and scenes of the massive crater in the parking structure underneath.

The 1995 domestic terrorist bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the mortally wounded building that became the death bed for 168 men, women and children, with another 680 injured.

Atlanta’s 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, again domestic terrorism.

Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the attempt for the White House.

This only a partial and very long list of attacks on American soil.

My concern is over the unnecessary loss of life and for those injured physically and mentally from these and the dozens of other attacks since the 1970’s. I am also deeply concerned with the commentaries that already have surfaced, placing blame on a foreign terrorist organization without considering domestic extremists.

If one looks at the history of terrorist attacks in the U.S., most were carried out by Americans against Americans. I will continue to say that I am more afraid of domestic terrorism than of al-Qaeda, Iran or North Korea.

I am angered that commentators, journalists and news organizations are already placing blame without having all of the information. Nightline opened with a listing of foreign terrorist attacks, taking too long to suggest that the attack could have been domestic based. New York Congressman Peter King, a Democrat, already suggested an al-Qaeda connection.

I am sickened by Monday’s cowardly attacks on hundreds of innocent men, women and children celebrating life by the yet unknown and unnamed terrorist(s). But I warn you, our state and federal legislators and officials, and the media not to jump to conclusions without facts, without knowledge.

Now is the time to honor the sentiments of our founders and show the world that the United States is governed by law and reason, not mob rule. We must reject those who claim knowledge with no proofs, whose sole purpose is to create fear for fear’s sake and their own political and professional advancement. For these people are as much terrorists as the bombers.

It is raining hard outside. It seems that nature is reflecting my mood and sorrow.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Questions? Contact opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.