In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings we, as a nation, have been tested. While this incident did not affect us all in the same way, it certainly has impacted us. Tragedies such as these always lead people into the "who done it" and "why did they do it" discussion. As soon as the bombings were reported people started saying that "right-wing groups" or "people of Islamic decent" (which I am not even sure if you can be a descendant of a religion) were behind this. It seems to be a reflex now to assign blame before we even know any of the facts. Carl Wicklander wrote an excellent piece about this earlier in his column ICON.
I will admit that I even wondered if some sort of super-ultra-conservative group was behind this given the date (April 15th - Tax Day), the fact that it was in Boston (home of the original Tea Party) and it was "Patriot's Day". And I, as you may know, am a Conservative.
To suspect that a group of Islamic fundamentalists was behind the attack also seemed natural given 9/11 and other attacks (attempted or "successful") of such magnitude. Yet, so far as we know, that was not the case here either...at least not a large organized group like Al Qaeda, Hamas, or similar such groups.
However, while those assumptions were verbalized by some in the media, both on air and over twitter, the issue is not them but our mindset as Americans. You can see/hear/read the reactions in the comment section of news stories, on Twitter and Facebook, the callers on radio shows. We are quick to point the finger even before we fully know what we are blaming people for doing.
In our haste to paint the blame we use overlarge brush strokes, almost always including a large section of people that are not at any fault at all but have a sole, singular connection (race, religion, politics, etc) to those who perpetrated the tragedy to which we are reacting.
Perhaps it is time we all take a step back and remember that when something awful like the Boston Marathon bombings, the Sandy Hook Shootings, and even 9/11 happen, it is because of madmen (and women). People who are, quite literally, insane...who's only purpose is to inflict terror on others. That is the only category we need put these people in - that of terrorist.