Is there any ideology or lunatic religious fringe on Earth that hates the 26-mile Boston Marathon—a race that honors that run from Marathon to tell the citizens of Athens that their young city and its democracy were safe? Likely not.
Nihilism, whatever its accent or distance from my particular way of thinking, is still nihilism. It can’t be streamed in high schools, vanquished by early childhood education, or caught by dogs or bureaucrats at the border. It’s not a menace that can be shot out of the sky by a new policy and a quarter-trillion-dollar budget.
Nevertheless, enough time has already passed for last week’s tragedy to be exploited to advance partisan and bureaucratic interests. Does an almost Orwellian security machine centered in the US and global in its reach need more money and a good shaking at the top? Could immigration reform—if not the constant, unrelenting flow of millions—be dangerous? Is this the time to enhance every border standing?
However last week’s murders are defined, murder and terrorism ("terrorism" for those who insist that that’s an under-used word) will continue. Still, this is a moment when people are actually looking for leadership.
To be bigger than a footnote, leaders could respond by being constructive.
My nomination is to concretely rebut reports that Obama’s bureaucracy is considering a border-crossing fee to help pay for the unnecessary bureaucracy that interferes with the land movement of millions of Canadians and Americans—that assumes that neither side is as good as the other side in maintaining domestic security, and that neither side has found a perfectible devise to detect and deter nihilists.
The wholly euphemistic Perrin Beatty of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce complained that a new border tax would “diminish a sense of ‘North American community.’” Surely, we need a more emphatic assertion of North American interests and ambitions.
A sense of community never built anything or solved an important problem. We have great cities and united nations today because leaders came forward before and said, “We live together; we share values and objectives; let’s get organized.”
I wouldn’t hold my breath or take an early flight home from Rome. But, I’d be impressed if either Stephen Harper or Barack Obama said: “Spending more money keeping Canadians and Americans apart is a distraction in fighting violence, and diminishes our economic and intellectual horizons. Twenty-four years ago, Europeans took down a murderous wall. It’s time to take down a ridiculous one in North America.”