April 21, 2013
A memorial to the victims near the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
A memorial to the victims near the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Our political leaders have a tough assignment in the coming days and weeks — how to respond to the Boston bombings. If ever there were a time for calm, poised leadership from our political leaders, now is that time. Anger is appropriate. So is resolve and patience, especially with the question of who the terrorists were and why they decided to attack us.

The balance for our leaders will be to urge action while avoiding vigilantism against anyone or any particular group of people. Yes, once again, it appears that the attackers were Muslims. Logical questions need to be asked about that fact including why fanatical members of that faith keep attacking and what can we do about that. No one can pretend those questions don’t exist.

I don’t know the answers. But they can and should be asked without bigotry or exaggeration.

Already news channels are filled with commentators acknowledging that we need to know what happened, presumably so that we can prevent mayhem in the future. How did the Boston bombing suspects become radicalized and how do we spot the early stages of such radicalization? For instance, is becoming a devout Muslim an early warning sign or the opposite? Such questions need to be asked calmly and with the understanding that no one should condemn an entire religion for the mistakes of a lunatic few.

That is the balance required in coming weeks and months. We can only hope that our political leaders are wise enough to seek answers without stirring hatred along the way — the same kind of insane hatred that no doubt was an element in the marathon tragedy last week.