Editor's Note - Closer to understanding

From the editor

A friend just told me he's bothered by the fact that Lebanon and Israel are so much like the West.

It's not that he thinks the lives of other people — Afghanis, Iraqis, Indonesians — are less valuable than those of Westerners. It's just that he can relate more easily to the disruption and pain suffered by people whose lifestyles are more similar to ours.

In other words, it's a little scarier when terror and violence strike closer to home.

This week's cover story is about a time when terrorism struck really close to home. Published on the 10th anniversary of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, Senior Editor Scott Freeman's article is based largely on the voluminous writings of all-American terrorist Eric Rudolph. Of all the articles I've read on Rudolph, it comes closest to helping me understand what was going through the mind of this particular murderer as he bombed not just the Olympics but two abortion clinics and a gay bar.

I don't want to exaggerate the parallels between Middle East violence and homegrown terror in the United States. And I don't want to argue here over who's to blame for violence in the Middle East. It's enough to say that hundreds of people are dying weekly in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and that, whatever "side" they're on, the torment such violence brings to the survivors is unimaginable.

But, as rockets and bombs land on Haifa and Beirut, it's remarkable to get inside the mind of someone in our own midst who managed to rationalize his own wave of murderous violence. Eric Rudolph sees beauty in the flight of an owl but also can coldly explain why killing someone he doesn't know is justified by a higher cause.

We are — I think ... I hope — a far more stable society than those that have fallen into such terrible strife over the last few years. But the hatred that breeds such terror is never, it seems, far from home.


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