Another Sad Day in America

Misguided. Angry. Disillusioned. Mislead.


Those are the qualifiers I use when I think of people like the Oklahoma City bomber and the Columbine and Virginia Tech shooters.Check Spelling Those are the qualifiers I now apply to one Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the man accused of plotting a vicious attack on Portland's Pioneer Square over the holiday weekend.

Mohamud's vile intentions had been thoroughly deliberated. Throughout the course of an FBI investigation going back at least a year, he indicated that he had no remorse about killing children, and that he wanted to kill as many Oregonians as he could. "It's in Oregon; and Oregon, like, you know, no one ever thinks about," he said.

It's that quote that cuts me to the core. Between 1999 and 2002, we lived in Lair Hill. Jeanne and I walked through Pioneer Square daily. We often went downtown for Portland's many holiday celebrations (estimates had the number of attendees at 25,000), and we enjoyed them.

But something occurred to me on my drive into the office today. It was an image I can't shake--an image of what my hometown would look like in the wake of such a hate-filled attack. Torn bodies and burned children; shrapnel wounds and mass chaos. Fear--palpable fear--taking hold of such a good place to live and share community.

It's the second year in a row that some idiot has picked a major holiday (last year's Detroit airplane bomber on Christmas day) to attempt such an act of depravity, and that worries me. From the shoe bomber to the idiot trying to blow up Times Square to these last two examples, our country has been fortunate that these bumbling dolts have been less than intelligent.

But still, the frequency with which this sort of thing has been happening on U.S. soil gave me pause this morning on my commute. In The Stand, Stephen King theorized on the efficacy of flying planes into buildings. What seemed like fantastic fiction then has since become a terrible reality.

Every day we read about war-torn regions of the far-flung global community--about suicide bombers wreaking havoc on unsuspecting wedding parties and tourists on vacation. And we often dismiss these stories. We turn the page, confident in the illusion of security that attends to the notion that those are things that happen other places.

All of this, despite the fact that it's (so far) come to very little, is troubling...

I deplore the actions of those who would, in turn, terrorize peaceful, innocent citizens for the behavior of one terrifically misguided individual. And I applaud the Somali community for their efforts to bridge the cultural chasm that this incident has created in Oregon.

But through it all I can't shake an image in my mind of something that never happened. I can't erase a scene of my hometown--of my friends and, in my worst versions of this nightmare, my family--torn to pieces as a result of such irrational hatred...

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