It's been an extraordinary week of fast-moving events -- a week of tragedy, tears, anger and fear. Yet the bombs that on Monday shattered the joyful celebration of a storied event, the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring nearly 200, never blew a hole in the social fabric. Too many helping hands -- heroic first responders, brave ordinary citizens -- stood ready to hold it together.
Then swiftly followed brilliant police work by the FBI, and other law-enforcement agencies aided immeasurably by the tools of the modern age -- surveillance cameras in public spaces and video and photos shot on cell phones and digital devices in the hands of spectators. Those images proved decisive.
By late Thursday, after the FBI released video and photos, the tips were pouring in and the suspects -- Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother Dzhokhar, 19 -- were on the run.
Events soon accelerated at almost an action-movie pace. A campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge was shot dead. A carjacking followed. The brothers exchanged gunfire with police and dropped explosives. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and later died. His brother fled and the long night journeyed into day with Watertown and much of Boston locked down. On Friday night, after superb police work, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested.
When justice is finally done, plenty of questions will remain and much will be debated. For one thing, how did these brothers get their arsenal of guns and bombs? In the same week, the U.S. Senate decided it could do nothing to inhibit anybody from getting a gun. How would-be terrorists must love America's foolishness.
Because the brothers are originally from Chechnya, a region that has exported Islamic terrorism to other parts of Russia, intemperate voices in this country are saying immigration reform is imperiled. That is ridiculous. America has always been a land of immigrants. If xenophobia is allowed to kill reform, this dose of terrorism will have succeeded in bringing the nation low for years to come.
But one debate may be finally settled. For government conspiracy theorists as for reasonable civil libertarians, the facts are irrefutable: The theoretical dangers posed by surveillance cameras have paled to insignificance in the light of their usefulness as an agent of justice. We can end this week on a note of relief precisely because cameras allowed the suspects to be quickly identified, found and, in the case of one, apprehended. Thanks to everyone -- and everything -- that made it happen.