This morning at the Christian Science Monitor, Staff Writer Peter Grier demonstrated a stunning level of ignorance about the Boston Marathon's significance. He then built on that ignorance to posit that yesterday's bombing at the Marathon's finish line "could indicate that the bomber was a local or at least a native of the United States."
Among other things, Grier seems completely ignorant of the fact that Boston is one of six "World Marathon Majors" (the other five are New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin, and Chicago). The related paragraph from Grier's report, followed by other indicators of the Marathon's worldwide significance, follow the jump:
First, here's what Grier wrote:
The fact that the target was an event of great significance to Boston but not particularly significant to the wider world could indicate that the bomber was a local or at least a native of the United States. The explosions occurred on April 15, tax day, which could be a further indication of a domestic connection.
Now I fully realize that other paragraphs in Grier's report tie into the possiblity that the bombing could have been perpetrated by one of "numerous groups in the Middle East" or, quoting an expert, "self-radicalized Islamic extremists from the area." So here's the point: If you are a "staff wrier" serving as a reporter (as opposed to being an analyst or critic), give us the facts you know, period. It's hard enough to get that aspect of things right without veering off into irresponsible, ill-informed speculation.
Grier's contention that the Boston Marathon is "of great significance to Boston but not particularly significant to the wider world" (including, by implication, the rest of the U.S) is definitely ill-informed.
The U.S. and world running communities closely follow the race. Amateur and more serious participants from all over the world come to Boston and consider finishing the race a crowning achievement.
Ten of the top 15 male finishers and 12 of the top 15 women in yesterday's race, including the top three in both instances, were from outside the U.S. The geographic breakdown of this year's race entrants included 55 U.S. states and territories, 74 countries of residence and 96 countries of citizenship. Even if you buy into the idea that few pay attention to the race each year, which isn't true in any event, the fact that there is so much worldwide participation and that spectators come in from all over the world to watch their loved ones compete would, if you wanted to go there (which a reporter shouldn't), support the idea that a worldwide terror organization would be quite interested in creating mayhem at such an event.
To be clear, the bombings may ultimately end up having been perpetrated by one or more domestic terrorists. But it sure as heck won't be, as Peter Grier claimed, because the Boston Marathon is "not particularly significant to the wider world."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.