WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former president Bill Clinton says the two men accused of bombing the Boston Marathon this month are symptoms of the world’s “oldest divisions” continuing despite an age of instant communication.
“What is really tearing the world up is the oldest divisions. The religious divisions. The political divisions,” he said at Georgetown University today. “It is very interesting that despite all of this globalization, despite of our being thrown together, despite of the opportunities that I see. Despite the diversity in this crowd, we still see the world put at risk when things don’t work out so well in America for two young brothers from Chechnya who were given a chance to get an education, to come here — apparently didn’t work out so well.”
“So you have the Boston marathon attack. Or the young man who tried to blow up the car bomb in Times Square a couple years ago,” he continued, adding “they had a good job, and a home, and a mortgage like all the rest of us do when we start out and then it didn’t work out. And he decided an appropriate response was to go back to Pakistan and learn how to make a bomb.”
The 42nd president’s comments came as he lectured students at his former alma-mater on life lessons for future public servants. A major theme of his remarks centered on bridging cultural divides. It follows similar remarks made by the former president at the National Holocaust Museum Monday, in which said the roots of that genocide were still “alive and well today.”
On the domestic front, Clinton evoked the national debate on gun control to demonstrate what he portrayed as polarized communities who should otherwise be listening to each other. Gun control advocates and opponents needed to hear more “stories” from each other, he said.
“You got to realize for the legitimate differences, let’s say over gun control, basically it’s an urban-rural deal,” he said. “There are some people you can’t reach. But if you live in a city and you think you need protection in your home you’re way better off with a shotgun than an assault weapon. Trust me. It’s not even close. So this is mostly a rural-urban deal.”
Clinton may have been referencing comments made by the vice president in February when Biden stated a shotgun was a more effective weapon for home defense than the civilian variant of the military’s M-16 assault rifle.
“So I just think they need to keep talking about it. I think they can do that,” Clinton continued, adding as examples President Obama’s recent dinners with Republican lawmakers and his meeting with women senators.
“Disengagement is a recipe for failure,” he said.
Clinton’s speech and the following question and answer also hit a wide range of topics from his memories as an undergraduate at the Washington college to more niche subjects including regulation of commercial fish farms and the explosion of non-governmental public service organizations in the last decade.