Charlotte Hays

After the April 15 terrorist bombing in Boston, T-shirts bearing the slogan “Boston Strong—Wrong City to Mess With” began sprouting all over the city as a way of raising beleaguered spirits.

One of the things that struck me immediately after the bombings was that Boston might be just the right city to mess with. It is a liberal city that is likely to give budding terrorists all sorts of opportunities such as scholarships and welfare. Boston is also likely to have a hard time grappling with the reality of Islamic terrorism after the fact.

And so what does happen if you do mess with Boston by pulling off the most sickening terrorist attack on American soil since September 11, 2001? For starters, a magistrate judge will pop into your hospital room to halt interrogation by FBI agents by reading you your Miranda Rights. Hush, hush, sweet terrorist.

Many of us struggle with seeking and giving forgiveness. But, if you mess with Boston, killing four and maiming scores, a Jesuit priest will offer you public absolution via the trendy Huffington Post before a single one of your victims has taken a first halting step on new prosthetic legs. “I can't hate you because I remember being 19," writes the Reverend Father Michael Rogers, S.J., on the Huffington Post. "[When I was 19] I thought many things were a good idea which weren't." Sounds like mighty interesting teen years for a Jebbie, no?

Oh, and here’s the scariest part—if you mess with Boston with pressure cooker bombs filled with lethal nails, the city will sing at you. Neil Diamond will sing “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park, and “Boston Strong,” a new song, will be a hit on iTunes. "Our hope is that the song will not only help the city of Boston heal, but will send a broader message that terrorism in the long run will not and cannot win," “pianist and 9/11 first responder” Jaime Hazan said of the song to the Wall Street Journal.

But terrorism can win, and the song sends no such message. Not even Circe could sing away terrorism. There was true courage on the scene of the Marathon bombing, with Americans, as is their wont, rushing to help others at peril to life and limb. The quiet dignity in the message to the public from Bill Richard, whose “dear son” Martin, 8, died in the attacks, and whose wife and daughter, 6, were grievously injured, was a testament to human decency in the face of intolerable suffering. It was in marked contrast to so much of the bravado and chest thumping employed to pretend that Boston in defeat is really Boston Strong.


Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.