Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm Calling It: Third Craziest Week In American History

UPDATE: The second bomber reportedly captured alive.  This is important.  Alive means we get answers.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (9:35 pm EDT): Andrew Sullivan at his Dish site linked an Onion article that is 5000 times funnier than what I wrote here but yeah, the sentiment's about the same.  Oh man, the Onion got that article out yesterday... Lord knows what Friday's crazy would have made that article...

As a student of history, moments like these stir the need to look back at other times to compare and contrast.  To be fair, there's been a lot of crazy days, and there's been weeks and months of bad/good/violent/weird things happening, but narrowing it down to the Craziest of the Crazy takes some doing.

For this week of April 15 - April 20 2013, this is the evidence at hand.

Monday April 15: the tragedy of the Boston Marathon Bombings.  The media and social media - Twitter and Reddit especially - go into overdrive covering this all week long.  It builds up in the background until late Thursday night.

Tuesday April 16: A Senator gets mailed a letter laced with ricin, a lethal poison that's favored by low-grade extremists, usually militia types.  Other letters - especially one to President Obama - get intercepted with ricin as well.  Authorities are quick to point out this has nothing to do with the bombings in Boston.

Wednesday April 17: A fertilizer plant in West, Texas (the comma is not a misprint) catches on fire and explodes, killing at least 14 (most of them volunteer firefighters).  Rumors of arrests or imminent arrest buzz about Boston.  An attempt to get a gun control measure setting near-universal background checks fails to clear a Cloture vote.  An arrest is made on the ricin letters: the suspect is a third-rate Elvis Impersonator with a conspiracy obsession.  (What does it tell you when a Elvis Impersonator attempting ricin terror attacks is the THIRD-most talked about story of the week?!)

Thursday April 18: Boston remains on edge as reports get louder that enough pictures and video have been found of the suspected bomber(s).  Obama comes to town to join in memorial services for the three killed on Monday.  That afternoon law enforcement releases official photos of the two men they suspect planting the bombs.  By 10:30 pm there's a shooting at the MIT campus, the bombers rob a 7-11, they carjack somebody, get chased out to Watertown - a suburban town west of Boston - where a prolonged shoot-out ends with one of the bombers dead and the other fleeing into the night.

Friday April 19: The entire nation is abuzz.  Boston goes into lockdown mode - people advised to "stay in shelter" - as a massive man-hunt for the second bomber gets underway.  News about the bombers get out: they're brothers, immigrated nationals from Kyrgyzstan but with Chechnya parentage, the oldest (the one shot) a wanna-be Golden Glove/Olympic boxer the other (19) a college student.  They'd been in the United States legally since 2002 when they moved here with their parents, having gained permanent resident/naturalized status.  As of 7:45 pm EDT, the 19-year old is still on the loose.  EDIT: Just as I post this, there's a shoot-out at a boat on the river in Watertown which may involve the second bomber.  May.  News is breaking constantly right about now...

So there you have it for this being the Third Craziest Week in U.S. History.  There's still Saturday to go...

My Number Two candidate is the week of October 14 to 19th in 1987: although it starts Wednesday and goes into Monday, it's long enough to count.  During which we had the Baby Jessica "down a well" saga, an increase in hostile action between the United States and Iran where the US Navy blows up two Iranian oil platforms, and the stock market crashes on one of its worst Black Mondays ever.

For the Number One... I have to go with the craziness that started on Tuesday September 11 2001, but in some respects that was one huge day and everything else that came after - invading Afghanistan, occupying Iraq, the use of torture and prolonged detention - one big ongoing thing.

I've had a fellow Horder on Anibundel's site - efgoldman - suggest the week of March 31 to April 6 1968, during which LBJ announced he will not seek a second elected term as President, Reverend King is assassinated which stirred nationwide riots, and a sporting goods gunpowder explosion killed 51 in Indiana.  Got to admit, that's a lot of stuff.  It might be Number One.

There's also the time period between July 1 to July 4th in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, when Vicksburg fell and the Union army stood at Gettysburg.  But as part of a massive event like the Civil War itself it might not count: and such events are intense, but not truly crazy (albeit war itself a crazy and messy deal on its own).

I'd put it to all seven of my readers here: which week truly deserves the Craziest Week in US History title?  Is there another contender?  Please comment.  Seriously.  I live for commentary... :whimper:


Sarah Glenn said...

There's been a lot of crazy crap this week, that's for sure. I wouldn't include 9/11 because that was "just" one huge thing. Ditto the Civil War week.

I've had a number of friends either hospitalized or their relatives hospitalized this week, too. Everything seems to be nuts right now.

Paul Wartenberg said...

I forgot to add the Cuban Missile Crisis, that was roughly one week (actually about two weeks) of total ZOMG NUCLEAR WAR time. But that was all it was: we didn't have 3-4 other crazy sh-t happening at the same time.