Resisting the Marathon of Fear

About Tarso Luís Ramos

Tarso Luís Ramos is the Executive Director of Political Research Associates. He has been researching the U.S. Right for over two decades, contributing numerous articles and reports on Christian Right, anti-immigrant, anti-labor, and anti-environmental movements and campaigns. Ramos previously served as founding director of Western States Center’s racial justice program. Throughout the 1990s, Tarso worked in various western states to counteract anti-gay campaigns, right-wing militias, and other organized threats to social justice. As director of the Wise Use Public Exposure Project in the mid-’90s, he monitored the Right’s anti-union and anti-environmental campaigns.

In the wake of yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, we want to let our community know that we at PRA are all safe. We have been deeply touched by those of you who have reached out to express your concern.

Our hearts are with the bombing victims and their families, and we applaud the heroic actions of those bystanders and first responders who came to the aid of the fallen. At this writing, there have been three confirmed deaths and scores of reported injuries, some of them very severe.

This is a time for mourning and affirming our common humanity – in part, by challenging efforts to manipulate anger and suffering for cynical purposes. As we await the results of law enforcement investigations currently underway, we offer the following advice to our friends and supporters:

Resist the rush to judgment. Responsibility for this horrible act has yet to be established. Early press accounts are often inaccurate. We are reminded of the immediate aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, when “terrorism experts” were quick to suggest that foreign, Arab terrorists were likely behind the bombing. Of course, a U.S. citizen, Timothy McVeigh, was found to be responsible.

Challenge efforts to blame or demonize groups of people. The Tea Party Nation homepage declares, “It is a pretty safe bet right now that this attack was carried out by an Islamist.” Fox News contributor Erik Rush blames Muslims for the Boston Marathon bombings via his Twitter account. When challenged, he doubled down on his accusation: “Yes they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” Such demonization is no less dangerous for being predictable. We caution against blaming any group of people based on their faith, nationality, or ideology.

Beware attempts to expand police powers. Violent public attacks are often followed by appeals to cede our liberties to achieve greater security. Calls to enhance government surveillance of domestic groups with “extremist” ideas were widespread, strident, and bipartisan following the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, leading to passage of draconian national security laws. That mid-’90s legislation provided the basis for some of the most notorious domestic abuses of the George W. Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Panic rarely yields sound policy. (

We at PRA continue to follow the Marathon bombing story very closely, and we will share any developments that may be relevant to our mission. In the meantime, we will follow our own best advice, above.

Sincerely Yours,

Tarso Luís Ramos,
Executive Director