The terrorist attack in Boston is supposed to split the United States. President Obama, however, can unite the country if he acts prudently.

Obama’s first reaction after the bombings in Boston was characterized by extreme caution. We didn’t yet know anything specific about the circumstances, explained the U.S. president, but the responsible parties would be brought to justice. It was the only reasonable thing Obama could do. As long as the facts were not certain, he correctly reserved judgment.

Otherwise, he could easily stir up phobias or hate attacks against Muslim-Americans, like what happened after the grave terror attacks against the U.S. in 2001. For America’s public, terror is often quickly tied to foreign, Islamic perpetrators. But only further investigations will reveal whether the barbarity of Boston was caused by foreign or home-grown terrorists. Many experts already see the unprofessional construction of the explosive device as a clue to scattered right-wing extremists with a boundless rage against America’s authorities.

Obama’s compassionate but toned-down reaction was therefore clever, because the Americans are now once again being thrown into a climate of fear and suspicion more than a decade after 9/11. The fact is this country has remained in the focus of terrorists even after 9/11. Again and again, attacks have been thwarted or have failed. The terror of 9/11 was planned over such a long period of time that the U.S. would have been able to take action against the planners if all of the information had been combined and correctly evaluated in time. As a result, the U.S. established an immense security apparatus that captured nearly every aspect of American everyday life and increasingly aroused the concern of civil rights activists. U.S. authorities collected a vast amount of data about domestic and foreign extremists, but at the same time, they had to make clear that in spite of this, they could not prevent all attacks on American soil.

9/11 was a gigantic shock for the U.S., triggering panic in this nation. But after a few years, U.S. citizens recovered from it. In spite of all of its gruesomeness, the scope of the attacks in Boston is not as dramatic as 9/11. Americans should therefore be in a position to maintain their lifestyle with vigilance and clear thinking. That is the best remedy against those who want to spread fear and terror with violence.