Why Target the Boston Marathon?

Any suspected motives for the tragic events that unfolded near the finish of the Boston Marathon yesterday are conjecture as of the writing of this post. But Nicholas Thompson endeavors to explain the meaning of this celebrated event.
soniasu_ / Flickr

"The Boston Marathon is America’s iconic race, the oldest marathon in the country, and the most important. Eighteen people ran it in 1897; last year, thirty-five thousand did."

Thompson, who has completed the race twice, walks us through its scenic path from the start in Hopkinton, "a town so far out on the Massachusetts Turnpike that it seems like it must be farmland," up and down its punishing hills, past Fenway Park, to its conclusion "in beautiful downtown Boston. Copley Square. Newbury Street. Trinity Church."

"There’s something particularly devastating about an attack on a marathon. It’s an epic event in which men and women appear almost superhuman. The winning men run for hours at a pace even normal fit people can only hold in a sprint. But it’s also so ordinary. It’s not held in a stadium or on a track. It’s held in the same streets everyone drives on and walks down. An attack on a marathon is, in some ways, more devastating than an attack on a stadium; you’re hitting something special but also something very quotidian."

Full Story: The Meaning of the Boston Marathon

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Attacks on America's Public Spaces?

The Wall Street Journal editorial this morning raises the disturbing question, does "this attack represents a new terror tactic of targeting hard-to-defend public spaces"?

While airports and train stations are also public, they point out that "(s)ince 9/11, the U.S. has hardened its airports and ports... and one mystery is why terrorists haven't targeted the public places of everyday American life such as shopping malls or tourist venues." As with Copley Square, this attack bears similarity to the attempt on New York's Times Square, they note - "where we got lucky" as the bomb failed to explode and was detected by an alert vendor.

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