AFTER the horror and shock at the loss of life and bloodshed at the Boston Marathon, one is struck by how cowardly the assault was on those innocent lives.

The mindless idiocy of the event recalls the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Vicious, self-indulgent acts that kill and maim ordinary citizens.

All in the name of what? Protesting American values or the tax code? How many delusional people can crowd around a table and plan out this kind of murderous assault?

What grotesque arguments were repeated often enough that the inane thoughts made perfect sense? Why the only answer to a perceived grievance is to blow up joggers and spectators.

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Certainly the number of plotters will vary from one insidious assault to another, along with motivations and geography. Boston’s famous race most certainly attracted its bloody prominence because of its visibility and an opportunity to maximize the slaughter.

Also lurking in the background was a confluence of dates and anniversaries around which to attach a lethal motivation and symbolism. Maybe it was Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts holiday.

Boston suffered a tragedy, but others have been narrowly averted. Recall the backpack full of explosives found in Spokane along the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in January 2011. Caught and convicted, Kevin Harpham will serve more than three decades in prison.

What invites these assaults? Any presumed attack on government is grimly ironic, when one sees a member of a bomb squad crouched over a suspicious bag to protect others. Government — the only institution with the capacity to respond to the heinous acts of madness by the supposedly aggrieved.

Whether it was a foreign assault or domestic terrorism, one can be confident the guilty will be found and held accountable. Regardless of their origins, they are enemies of this nation and liberty.

The selfless acts of runners and spectators, first responders, doctors and nurses and law enforcement cast a long shadow over those who undertake murderous acts, and those who quietly applaud them.