Just like in the days after the 9/11 attacks, a politician has been sent a poison filled letter the day after a massive attack on our soil. Yesterday, just one day after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi was sent a letter full of the deadly poison ricin. It's horrifying for so many reasons, not the least of which is the echoes of one of the worst periods in American history.
Consider this: the Boston Marathon attacks on Monday came on a great day to be a Massachusetts resident. Patriots Day is a day of celebrating America's freedom, the shot heard round the world, and one of the most storied running events in the world. The attacks changed all that. They changed the sense of safety we get in a crowd at an event like a marathon. This isn't the kind of place one expects to be attacked. Then the letters started.
The weeks and months following 9/11 were a truly terrifying time to be living in the United States. The attack itself was horrifying and scary, but the anthrax attacks that followed made it feel like there was a terrorist on every corner. Is this going to be the same?
The thing about terrorist attacks that makes them different from other crimes is that they feel so random. Although whoever perpetrates them usually has some kind of insane "purpose" for what they have done, to most sane people, it just feels like things can happen anytime, anywhere. That's why they call it "terror."
The letters, in particular, feel like such a violation. We aren't even safe at home or at the office where an innocent act like getting the mail could get us killed.
The fear now is that this will just keep on happening. It's pretty terrifying.
Just after 9/11, anthrax was mailed to U.S. senators and also several news stations. Five people were killed and 17 were infected. This also isn't the first time ricin has been used. A package addressed to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in 2004 also contained the toxin.
These are scary times. There isn't much else to say. We are lucky we have checks in place that can catch such attacks and that's the best we can really hope for. The rest is up to chance. But we can't stop living our lives out of fear, even when we want to. If we do that, the terrorists really have won.
Do you feel on edge after the attacks?
Image via David Guo's Master/Flickr