Normally, we would all feel anger toward the Tsarnaev brothers. Self-styled terrorists who murdered and mutilated innocent Americans deserve nothing other than our opprobrium.
We need have no moral compunctions about holding the surviving brother accountable for his actions.
For liberal intellectuals this is a problem. In their theoretical ecosphere the Devil is American racism. Their mission is to rid America of racism. And that includes what is misleadingly called Islamophobia. Thus, they fear that America will go off on yet another round of Muslim-hatred, holding other Muslims to account for the actions of two deviants.
Within their minds, the Tsarnaev brothers will soon emerge as victims of America.
It has begun with an attempt to humanize the terrorists. Since most sentient humans know that the terrorists are monsters, the empathetic left will pay lip service to their perfidy and try to cast them as victims.
If these writers succeed in humanizing the Tsarnaev brothers, it will diminish our anger at them and at the culture that bred them.
Adam Gopnik offers this analysis:
And we already had a glimpse of how this might be a tragedy of assimilation and its discontents. A well-liked student at a good public school, a Golden Gloves boxer—somehow they had transformed their souls in ways that made it possible for them to casually drop devices meant to rip human flesh apart next to an eight-year-old boy and his family….
However the details turn out, this is certainly a tragic story about America far more than it is a tale about the exotic elsewhere. Whatever had happened, it had happened here. Surprises surely await us as we go on, but an intuitive scenario—in which an older brother who had struggled with the promise and disillusion of American life and turned to extremist Islam for comfort, dominated and seduced a younger brother not born or made for violence—seemed plausible. But all of our experience suggests that it is not “fundamentalism” alone but an aching tension between modernity and a false picture of a purer fundamentalist past that makes terrorists.
Gopnik comes very close to suggesting that the terrorists were tragic heroes. They were good boys who were corrupted by America. They could not fit in, presumably because American Islamophobics rejected them.
This view was echoed by the president of Chechnya who immediately blamed it all on America. The Tsarnaev parents immediately said that their boys had been framed.
Of course, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was married to an American woman and spent a great time with her family. Still, he insisted that he had no American friends.
Gopnik continues that Tamerlan, feeling rejected, needed comfort, turned to violent, extremist jihadi Islamism.
Think about it. Gopnik wants us to believe that this man turned to Islam to seek comfort. If you were looking for comfort would you turn to al Qaeda or the terrorists of Beslan?
In truth, Tamerlan Tsarnaev turned to Islamist radicalism to find a way to punish America for his own failures. And he recruited his brother. To Gopnik's mind, Dzhokhar was neither born nor bred for violence.
Oh,really. Surely he was brought up in the same home by the same parents who raised his older brother. For someone who was neither born nor bred for violence, he took to it rather well.
Why did the Tsarhnaev brothers fail to assimilate into American life? Clearly, they did not want to. If they had they would have betrayed the Islamist beliefs that their parents had been feeding them.
Both Tsarnaev parents think like radical jihadis. Both thought that their sons were framed. They forced their teenaged daughters into arranged marriages.
Gopnik wants us to think that Tamerlan turned to radical Islam because felt rejected by America. The truth is, he could not assimilate because his radical Islamist upbringing made it impossible.
Alyssa Lindley Kitzer knew the bombers’ mother. She described a woman who had the mindset of a fanatic.
Kitzer described her:
During this facial session she started quoting conspiracy theories, telling me that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate muslims. “It’s real,” she said, “My son knows all about it. You can read on the internet.” I have to say I felt kind of scared and vulnerable when she said this, as I am distinctly American, and was lying practically naked in her living room.
It seems reasonable to say that these parents created two monsters. Naturally, they do want to accept any responsibility for their actions. Would you?
If anything, they would want their sons to have martyred themselves in the war against the Great Satan.
David Remnick also wants to offer these parents empathy:
But, as the day was coming to an end, you could not help but feel something, too, for the parents of the perpetrators, neither of whom could fathom the possibility of their sons’ guilt, much less their cruelty and evil.
This mother and her husband could see no evil in these angelic boys because they put it there. A cousin named Zaur Tsarnaev saw clearly that Tamerlan was no good.
The Boston Globe reports that Zaur tried to warn Dzhokhar:
“I used to warn Dzhokhar that Tamerlan was up to no good,” Zaur Tsarnaev, who identified himself as a 26-year-old cousin, said in a phone interview on Friday from Makhachkala. “[Tamerlan] was always getting into trouble. He was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. He hurt her a few times. He was not a nice man. I don’t like to speak about him. He caused problems for my family.”
If leading American writers seem incapable of providing moral clarity on these terrorists, their uncle Ruslan Tsarni has. Interviewed outside of his home in Maryland, Tsarni explained that he was estranged from his brother and his family. Apparently, he saw that they had become fanatics.
While the Tsarnaev parents were blaming America, Ruslan Tsarni expressed his shame for what they had done.
When a reporter asked him whether he was ashamed, Tsarni repliec: “Of course we are ashamed! “They are [the] children of my brother.”
Tsarni also understood clearly that shame is shared. When your shameful actions tarnish your good name, all those who share it share the shame.
In the minds of Americas the name Chechnya will for some time now be associated with a pair of terrorists. It is the normal reaction; it does not mean that Americans are racists.
Tsarni understood it well:
He put a shame on our family. He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.
Tsarni does not blame America. He loves America. He is grateful for the opportunity that America has given him and his family.
On behalf of his family Tsarni offered a very public and very sincere apology:
Those who suffered, we’re sharing with them, with their grief—and ready just to meet with them, and ready just to bend in front of them, to kneel in front of them, seeking their forgiveness. … In the name of the family, that’s what I say.
More expressions of shame from more Muslims will help enormously in relieving us of the sense that Muslims approve of what the Tsarnaev brothers did in the name of their religion.
[Addendum: My thanks to Neo-Neocon for linking this post.]