Political lowlights of the Marathon bomber manhunt

I spent nearly 24 hours trapped in my home because a heavily-armed, murderous terrorist was hiding in a boat just miles from me. I spent most of that time watching the news, following police scanners, digging into social media and texting my neighbors in a desperate attempt to be informed about the crisis that was facing my community.

While all of the Boston metropolitan area was in lockdown so that authorities could hunt for the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, some people decided to use the crisis as an opportunity to score cheap political points and to further flawed policies.

In Arknansas, state representative Nate Bell, a NRA-loving Republican, called Boston liberals cowards in this since-deleted tweet.

I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?

Bell managed to crassly politicize an ongoing tragedy by dragging the whole crisis down into the muck of gun control partisanship. He also managed to call Boston liberals cowards.

Never mind the fact that the ongoing investigation will undoubtedly reveal that stricter gun control probably would have prevented these two young men from arming themselves with assault rifles.

The Tweet ignited a firestorm of criticism, which prompted the cowering Nate Bell to delete his original tweet. Then he posted a non-apology on his campaign Facebook page.

I would like to apologize to the people of Boston & Massachusetts for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning. As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis. In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy.

So he doesn’t apologize for calling Boston liberals cowardly. He doesn’t apologize for his crude attempt to score political points in the face of tragedy. He only apologizes for doing it while the Boston area was still under curfew. When would the timing be appropriate? After more people have died? After more bombs have gone off? After the amputees have been released from area hospitals? After the hundreds of people affected by these events have finished treatment for PTSD or completed a one-year period of mourning?

The bottom line is that there is no good timing for when to behave like a partisan hack and call the people of the city which fired the first shots of the American Revolution cowards. Centuries ago Boston bled so that the Constitution could be born and Bell’s precious Second Amendment rights could be codified. Boston is the crucible of democracy and freedom. Boston was the first city to drive British soldiers from its soil.  Boston is the city whose people ran into the carnage on Marathon Monday and used their belts and shirts as tourniquets while the smoke still hung over the bleeding masses.

But Bostonians cowered in their homes and dreamed of owning AR-15s? I don’t think so.

Speaking of the Constitution… aren’t our national leaders sworn to uphold that document?

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, took to Twitter to pressure President Obama to treat the surviving bomber as an enemy combatant and withhold his Constitutional rights, such as a right to a trial by a jury of his peers?

If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

It’s become clear that the government will use the public safety exemption to delay reading the bomber his Miranda rights, but the president also made it clear that the kid, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, will be tried in a civilian criminal court. This is a good thing, because we are a nation of laws. We have a Constitution.

Still, Graham and other Republicans will continue to push for this kid to get the Gitmo treatment, because it’s a political position they have staked out since 2001, never mind the damage it might do to our Bill of Rights.

Why is it that Republicans are so protective of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, but so blithe abut eroding the protections of the rest of the Bill of Rights. Treating a U.S. citizen as an enemy combatant takes away the rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments. Why is Senator Graham so ready to toss out those rights while fighting any legislation that tries to make reasonable changes to the Second Amendment?  Votes. Republicans have relied on the politics of fear ever since 9-11. They’ve relied on it since gay people started demanding the right to marry. They’ve relied on it since African Americans demanded an end to Jim Crow.

In fact, fear is common thread that runs through the politics of both these crass political hacks. One man would have us cling to guns in fear. The other would have us sanction torture and indefinite detention of a 19-year-old out of fear.

I am not afraid. I don’t need a gun to feel safe. I don’t need to waterboard a boy to feel safe. Last night as I listened to the sirens  and the urgent radio calls of police officers under fire, I did not give in to fear. I simply waited for justice. Both of these politicians would have us pursue a path that would deny that justice. Rather than try this boy, they would shoot him, torture him and throw him in a hole. That’s not what our country stands for. That’s not what our Constitution demands of us.