07/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Times Square Bombing -- A Repeat of History

The word this morning is that a suspect in the Times Square bombing has been captured. The New York City police, the border patrol, the FBI and other governmental agencies did a remarkable job assembling evidence, tracking down leads and assuring public confidence. While the investigation is not complete, the organizations and agencies working on the case deserve enormous credit for their swift and effective work.

The work of governmental agencies -- and the value of that work to everyone -- should not be underestimated. The real target in these situations is the value of American citizenship, not just pedestrians in Times Square. Create enough of a scare, frighten enough people, and the result will be a country which is less free and more worried.

We've seen this before -- and right in New York. On September 16, 1920 a bomb carried on a horse-drawn wagon exploded on Wall Street, killing 38 people and wounding almost 150 more. The bomber was never found.


Later, there were a series of almost three dozen Manhattan bombings which took place over a 16-year period. In time it was discovered that George Metesky -- the Mad Bomber -- was responsible for such acts. Metesky had lost a job at a public utility years before, wanted a hearing for his grievances, thought no one would listen to him and when caught was judged insane.

Lastly, and on a entirely different scale, were the attacks on the World Trade Center.

The point, of course, is that we can't be cowed by terrorists, whether motivated by insanity, politics or religion. It's inevitably true that some bombs will go off and some attacks will succeed, but that can't stop us and shouldn't stop us from keeping our civil and social standards in place. Think of Oklahoma City. The cost was terrible but the country prevailed.

At this writing it's too early to say if the suspect caught at JFK airport is guilty or not guilty. And that's the beauty of our system: We actually believe that people are innocent until proven guilty, that laws count and like the song says, we won't back down.


Photo Credit: Wikipedia. Bombing aftermath on Wall Street, 1920.

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