Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brother Bombers

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.]


RB Glennie said...

hello sir, I linked through to your post from neo-neo-con.

you have interesting ideas here, but I must take exception to your statements at the outset, to wit, the notion that somehow `the left' will attempt to `humanize' these two who, allegedly involved in the bombing.

I hate to sound sarcastic, but are they not human already?

Sure, I will concur that left-wing opinion will attempt, in some measure at least, to excuse their actions; but don't you really mean to say that this school of anti-anti-terrorism (as I call it) will attempt to make them `sympathetic' rather than `human'?

Just wondering.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

What I meant to say was that some people commit acts that are so evil that we do not believe them worthy of human sympathy or understanding. In common language, they are considered to be monsters, as opposed to one of us.

Bob's Blog said...

Linked here:

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for the link, Bob.

Charles A Pennison said...

Long ago when you killed someone in war, you did so while looking into his eyes. You saw the life in him leave his body. You saw the pain that you inflicted on your enemy. You felt, smelled and saw what a lifeless body is like when you cleared the battlefield.

Now we can kill hundreds, thousands and even millions with pilotless cruise missiles, and drones piloted by twenty something techies sitting in the Arizona desert. The people we kill have become nothing more than a number on a ledger. We no longer look into their eyes as we kill them.

We can expect as much compassion from our enemies when they kill us as we have for them when we kill them. Just numbers on a ledger.

Dennis said...


So what we are saying is that we deserved it and of course it is so much better to kill a large number of American soldiers so we can experience all the blood and gore of war and not feel good about not killing them man to man?
I am having trouble feeling sorry for people who commit terrorism. Their motive for this terrorism is that America is such a bad country that anything that others want to do to it is just retribution.
We are damned if we deal with the leadership of other countries. We are damned if we help those who would overthrow those countries. We are damned if we do something and we are damned if we don't.
A rather convient excuse I think for those who just don't like this country or its citizens. I am quite familiar with coming back from a war zone and getting what seemed, "How come you are not dead?" in their underlying commentary.
I surely hoped I am misreading your comments.

Anonymous said...

I've got this great idea...

Let's notice something, and pretend we don't. Let's just put our heads in the sand and hope that a miracle will happen before we suffocate. Let's just hope that the obvious thing we see right in front of us just goes away. Let's make pretend.

Let's pretend that we don't notice that they're insane, and Muslim, and from Chechnya. Let's pretend we don't notice that they packed ball bearings in pressure cookers to maximize casualties.

Someone such as Charles could probably extrapolate that the people in the World Trade Center were part of the problem of some rigged, terribly wrong game of global finance that takes advantage of other less fortunate, less sophisticated people. Screwy idea, but I'd still be listening with my air sickness bag in the ready.

But the idea that cruise missiles in a combat zone have anything to do with blowing up amateur runners and admiring spectators on a national holiday is pretty wacky. I don't give a @#$% whether they did it with a sword in hand... it's still evil.

And to Mr. R.B., I would suggest to you that this is, in fact, a disgusting attempt to humanize these monsters and somehow get us to understand that they liked apple pie and Coca-Cola, just like us. The only little inconvenience is that it doesn't matter to me whether they liked frisbees or the Red Sox or any of their irrelevant preferences. Sure, they are human, but it is irrelevant to the reason they're on the news. They're not on the news because they like being a bleeding stowaway on someone's backyard boat. They're on the news because they're psychotic murderers. Bring Oliver Stone in to humanize them... I'm sure he can find someone who will dig deep and prove that they're just patsies. I'm sure George W. Bush did it.

I saw this Atlantic article online today about how we are not to judge the fact that the brothers are Muslim, that "it shouldn't matter":

Please. Stop. Please. Now. Give me peace. Please stop judging people for judging. The person who wrote this is a columnist, for God's sake. She gets paid to share her opinion. Her judgments about people who are passing judgment are in fact... judgments! Human beings pass judgments every day. To not judge is impossible, and the people who say they don't judge are compulsive liars (which is a judgment). We pass judgments because they align with our experience, and we're trying to make sense of an insane world.

The evangelical Christian terrorist groups are not on the news very much, are they? And please don't waste my time trying to equate people today who are Christian and kill with people who kill in the name of Jesus Christ. You will not find them, because it is not Christian. Yet there are plenty of people who kill in the name of Allah, Mohammed and Islam. This is because Islam is a religion based on submission to Allah. This is laudable when peaceably practiced. The problem is that there are lunatics who are able to (and are encouraged to) interpret the Koran as saying that they should go out into the world and have other people submit to Islam, against their will. I will not submit. Now what? Am I to die? According to these monsters, not only will I die, but I deserve to die. According to their judgment. Good luck not judging such people. That's a suicide pact.