Boston Marathon Bombings Dark Irony and The Nature of Man

When I heard of the bombings during the Boston Marathon, it first horrified me—then struck me with the dark irony. Boston enjoys a substantial Irish population, some of whom supported and may still support the Irish Republican Army. Why is this important or relevant? Well, you might say the IRA invented street bombings. Just Google “IRA street bombings.” Now, God isn’t punishing Boston. But all of us continue to be punished by imitators of this heinous practice. Evil begets evil or evil imitates evil. Speaking of evil begetting evil, you know of course, Westboro Baptist Church – A Shining Light will be out picketing and teaching with the ‘anti-example.’ They think this event is God’s punishment for legalizing same sex marriage in Massachusetts. Oh well, anyway, I digress, back to the IRA.

IRA Sought Assistance from Hitler

IRA activity against the British during World War II embarrassed the neutral Irish. Once the IRA even sought assistance from Hitler to help remove the British from Ireland. Later in history, the IRA divided into “Official” and “Provisional” wings. The Officials preferred parliamentary involvement and rejected violence after 1972, whereas the Provisionals, or “Provos” continued to use terrorism. From 1970 on, the Provos carried out bombings, assassinations, and ambushes. In 1973 attacks expanded to mainland Britain and continental Europe. Estimates are that, between 1969 and 1994, the IRA killed about 1,800 people, including around 600 civilians.

After the killing of 13 Catholic protesters on “Bloody Sunday” (Jan. 30, 1972), sympathy swelled organization ranks. Extensive funding from some Irish Americans helped the IRA procure weapons from international arms dealers and foreign countries, including Libya.

Some Supported in Ignorance, Some with Intent

Some Irish Americans who collected money for Catholic charities in Northern Ireland did not condone the IRA. But some other Irish Americans who, while claiming to aid families of political prisoners, actually helped arm IRA terrorists. They were the IRA’s primary source of funds. This continued until Margaret Thatcher asked Ronald Reagan to stop it. Even after this some activity continued.

IRA terrorists set off their bombs across the ocean and most Americans took little notice. But the British noticed: 1982, an IRA bomb killed eight people in Hyde Park; 1984, the IRA attempted to kill the whole British cabinet in Brighton; 1984, a plot to smuggle seven tons of explosives was stopped. This led to the arrests of several Americans. In 1999, well after the IRA declared its cease-fire, members of an IRA group connected to an American organization, the Irish Northern Aid Committee (Noraid), were caught running guns in Florida.

Connections with International Terrorism

For years, the IRA developed and maintain relationships with terrorist groups across Europe and the Middle East: training in Palestinian camps in the ’70s and ’80s, acquiring arms from Libya, and building the Basque separatist group, ETA.

On July 28, 2005, the IRA announced that it had ended its armed campaign and instead would pursue only peaceful means to achieve its objectives. But what goes around comes around, and what some Americans supported abroad decades ago came home during the Boston Marathon. This is not divine retribution or punishment from God but the consequence of evil begetting evil. Perhaps there are one or two families in Boston who might be thinking about what they, their fathers or their grandfathers did a couple of decades ago. The pain of sowing the seed of the Boston Marathon bombings will be a heavy burden to bear.

Until now, imitation of the IRA has stayed far away and now that it has slowly come back to our shores, what questions are going through their minds? What regrets do they have? Do they think that maybe they helped invent the idea for a street bombing? When evil is used to accomplish political objectives, there are always unintended consequences, and sometimes those consequences come near.

Man Basically Good?

The point is not to lay blame but to examine ourselves. If man is basically good, where does he get the idea that terrorism is justified? Is it collective maladjustment for a few? If man is basically good, why do the acts of Irish Americans seem somehow more morally superior than those of Middle Eastern heritage? Why do men from any and all regions engage in these acts if man is basically good? If man is basically good, why does he so readily imitate evil?

If man is basically good, he doesn’t need a Savior. He can do it himself. So can we fix this? Can we stop it with our own understanding? Our own power? Creating more controls? More laws? More regulations? Hiring more policemen? More body searches? Bombs and materials to make them are already one the most controlled material on the planet, and yet motivated individuals still can get and make them.

All Fall Short

Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and if you insist that man is basically good, please continue your search. But remember, you must keep your eyes open. Though we may not sow the seed of a Boston Marathon Bombing, we have either done something we deeply regret or set something in motion through our deeds that has harmed others.

If you want an alternative, a real solution from someone greater than any world leader, I invite you to open a Bible to the book of John. Read it once. Pray, “Lord Jesus, show me if you exist and teach me to know you. Teach me what your solution is for my evil and all man’s evil.” Read John a second time expecting an answer.


“Global Networking: Trading in Terror?” Time Magazine. Helen Gibson/London Monday, September 03, 2001,9171,172708,00.html

“Irish Republican Army (IRA)”. Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2013

“The Discreet Charm of the Terrorist Cause.” The Washington Post. Anne Applebaum. Wednesday, August 3, 2005

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Comments 2

  1. Post

    Thanks for your comments. This is certainly not divine retribution, but the consequences of evil begetting evil. Thanks for pointing out the good which has come about. I have adjusted the language in the post to better reflect the unintended consequence of what can happen when evil acts are committed.

  2. You said:

    “But what goes around comes around, and what some Americans supported abroad decades ago came home during the Boston Marathon.”

    To link this malicious act to a kind of indirect retribution for past IRA support is a perversion of the worst kind, or in the very least poor taste. Witness the outpouring of love and help coming in the aftermath of this terrible crime. For every terrorist there are thousands of law abiding, conscientious citizens who fight against these forces of darkness.

    Sorry but I think this kind of divine conspiracy theory only holds the christian world to ridicule – and in this case for good reason.

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