Updated: May 17, 2013 6:44AM
Nobody in a position of responsibility wants to say who might have been behind the bombings on Monday at the Boston Marathon, and nobody should.
Not until we know.
Then, and only then, should we strike back.
Maybe it was a terrorist group. Maybe it was a madman.
Maybe it was a hater from overseas. Maybe it was a hater born and raised at home.
We just don’t know. Not yet. And until we do we should hold our fire rhetorically, militarily and otherwise.
“We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable,” President Barack Obama said Monday evening.
And more than likely we will. We usually do.
In the meantime, we betray our nation’s best values when we jump to conclusions. We have learned, the hard way, that the killer or killers could be anybody.
A homegrown al-Qaida operative, Najibullah Zazi, was behind a failed suicide bombing in a New York subway.
Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh, a homegrown hater of the federal government, was behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Eric Rudolph, upset about legal abortion, was behind the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.
Some are terrorists. Some are nuts. Some are Americans. Some are not.
We will sort it out, as the president says, and hold the perpetrators accountable.
In the meantime, nobody should live in any greater fear. Nobody should hunker down or call off the good times or drum up even more absurdly ineffectual security measures.
We will learn a few things from Monday’s horror in Boston, and we will take new precautions. But like those 23,000 marathon runners, we’d be wise to keep on chasing life with all the fullness possible in a country so free.
In every way, we will not be defeated.