I totally understand why Bostonians were elated Friday night and wanted to get out of their homes to celebrate. Even so, chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in the streets after "Suspect 2" was caught still looked and felt wrong to me.
This isn't about America vs. Another Country. This is about Good vs. Evil.
To those who think it's wrong to "judge" how people reacted to a horrific act of terrorism and an unprecedented lockdown, I don't entirely disagree. I'm just trying to figure out why watching a moment that should have been full of joy and enormous relief gave me a sinking feeling in the pit in my stomach.
The entire nation -- Boston, above all -- went through an incredible amount last week. Our hearts have been shattered. But just as mine broke for the families of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Sean Collier -- as well as everyone else harmed on Monday -- it also broke for the people of Norway when a madman slaughtered 77 people and injured 209 in 2011. And for the 156 killed and 600-plus hurt in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. And for the 52 murdered and 700-plus injured in the London subway bombings in 2005. And for the 191 people killed and 1,800 wounded in the Madrid subway bombings in 2004. And while it's natural to be more emotional if terrorism strikes close to where you live -- Sept. 11 left a deep scar on me and most New Yorkers I know -- victims of pure evil don't have to be our neighbors for us to feel compassion and outrage. I have no doubt that hearts were broken around the globe when they saw little Martin's smile.
Someone tried to enlighten me on the celebration in Boston last night, saying that the "USA chants" -- which may have been initiated by the SWAT teams there -- were relevant because "regardless of the enemy, we yet again have shown how amazingly Americans respond to challenge." This explanation was comforting for a moment, until I asked myself this: Would we be chanting "USA! USA!" if these two monsters were "local" boys gone bad?
The road ahead to healing is long, and the "patriotic" chants struck me as a dubious place to start. I, too, am elated that Suspect 2 was apprehended. Now let's try not to lose sight of the real enemy here. One is in custody, and the other is dead. There's no need for a battle cry for just America. This isn't about Us vs. Them. It's about Good vs. Evil.
Follow Kenneth M. Walsh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kenneth212