The crowd gathered to hear Michoacán Gov. Leonel Godoy ring in El Grito last night at Morelia’s Plaza Melchor Ocampo right smack dab next to the Cathedral represented a cross-section of society: fresas, nacos, old people, middle-aged people, young people and families, the middle class and poor folks, people like you and me. They weren’t making any kind of political statement; they were just out celebrating Mexico. For Estadounidenses, they were doing nothing more than cheering this country’s version of the 4th of July and Thanksgiving all rolled into one.
When other groups are victims of terrorism, it’s easy to foist off some of the blame onto them for being the wrong kind of people in the wrong place at the wrong time. The World Trade Center and Pentagon people were, after all, working in and for the famed military-industrial complex. Iraqis had the poor sense to be living in the wrong country. Jews who ended up in concentration camps were foolish enough to be born of less than Aryan blood. The Israelis are crazy enough to live alongside Palestinians. Those gunned down in the Tlatelolco Massacre forty years ago were students and workers who lacked the good sense to refrain from demonstrating. All of these people were in some way offensive to their attackers.
Last night’s victims were guilty of nothing. They incited nothing. They offended no one. And that’s what made the attack even more senseless.
That’s what terrorism is all about.
And it’s more than simply picking off random people like the Beltway sniper did a few years back. Pulling a trigger on a gun creates a direct connection between the perpetrator and the victim, even if the shot’s fired into a crowd. Detonating a grenade is an entirely different matter and far more evil, because it blurs and extends the distance between the attacker and the attacked.
That’s how terrorists operate.
We can’t lay blame upon the Arabs, Muslims and foreigners for this one. Whoever is responsible for last night’s acts was as home-grown as nopal.
That’s where terrorists come from.
The symbolism in striking during a revered national event wasn’t lost on the rest of the world. Last night’s attack won’t be the last one we can expect to experience. The next one may not occur at national celebration, but instead at a crowded theater, a shopping center, sporting event, or even a school.
That’s where terrorists strike.
For one brief and shining moment, politicians from all corners will be on the same page. By tomorrow morning, someone will have written and recorded an anti-narcocorrido. Morelia’s Wikipedia entry has already been updated. Editorials will be written. Pledges, righteous indignation, and campaigns will precede conspiracy theories and finger-pointing. And then we still will not know what’s coming next.
That’s what terrorism does to people.