[Update: Obviously I’m too subtle for my own good.
As such, allow me a cautionary preamble. This post is about extremism.
I’m about to lead into the post with some extreme positions and images of my own. See, because none of us, me included, are immune from those kinds of things, especially in crisis, especially when terrible things occur and leave us impotent with rage.
I’d like to see this guy dead. I admit it. So would a lot of people. I’m not ashamed of wanting him dead, I’d like him to feel the terror and pain and horror that he inflicted on others. Does that make me evil as somebody called me on Twitter and Facebook? Or does it make me just your average human being who can’t look at those dead kids and that poor son of a bitch in the wheelchair with his shattered leg bones sticking out of the stumps of his legs, and think extreme thoughts about the bastards who lit the fuse?
What matters is how we express those extreme ideas, and where that might lead.
I not going to apologize because this post isn’t full of happy laughing kittens. This is an ugly damned subject. And it isn’t going to get any better if I sugarcoat it or turn it into a joke. The murdered and maimed deserve more respect than that.
As I said in the previous post, Turn, and face the danger. Don’t look away.
Extremism. Extremism in all of us. That’s what this post is about. And don’t try to tell me it isn’t, I know, I wrote it.
The title should have been a dead giveaway // Jim]
I’ll be honest, I really didn’t see that one coming.
It turns the that the Boston Marathon bombers are, most likely, two brothers from the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya.
Look at the bright side, at least we have somebody new to hate.
As I write this one of the brothers is dead for certain, and police might have just shot the second one.
[edit: Obviously by now everybody should know that the police got him].
I honestly hope that the authorities take the remaining terrorist alive. I’d like him to live long enough feel the needle sliding into his arm. I’d like him to look through the glass of the execution chamber at the people waiting there, and then I’d like him to be strapped down on that hard cold table, and I’d like him to stare at the cold metal ceiling, and I’d like him to feel his heart painfully hammer out the last few terrorized beats of his miserable life before the poison surges into his veins and he pisses himself and empties his bowels onto the gurney.
Because really, fuck him.
But, since, in addition to blowing up the Boston Marathon the brothers managed to kill a cop and wound another, I don’t suppose Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will remain either at large or alive much longer.
[edit: Reports are that he’s alive and in custody. How about that?]
And while there’s a certain level of satisfaction in seeing the son of a bitch blown to bloody scraps in a hail of gunfire, I’d really like Tsarnaev to answer a few questions before he bleeds out.
Like, “What the hell, Jerkwad?”
Supposedly Dzhokhar and his now violently deceased older brother, Tamerlan (and, really, there’s prophetic name out of history for you), came to the United States more than a decade ago, when they were age nine and sixteen respectively, and have lived here, legally, among us ever since. Details are a bit sketchy at the moment and everybody who ever knew them has a conflicting story to tell. No doubt over the next few weeks we’ll end up knowing them better than they knew themselves and that probably won’t give us much in the way of satisfaction – unless one of them remains alive long enough to explain himself.
However it shakes out, one thing is for certain: The United States gave the Tsarnaevs shelter and opportunity, just like every other citizen, naturalized or naturally born, Boston and Cambridge welcomed them with open arms – and they shit all over us.
They nursed their differences and their hatred and let their bigotry fester, they – at least Tamerlan, according to his own words – didn’t understand Americans and didn’t like us.
Supposedly he lamented the fact that he didn’t have any American friends.
So they resorted to violence. They decided to kill people. Blow things up. Make a statement and go out in a blaze of terror.
I don’t know what their actual motivation was, religious extremism, political extremism, nationalist extremism, mental extremism, or whether they were just assholes.
Unless the FBI takes the remaining one alive, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.
And I would like to know why they did what they did – but I don’t really know that it really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Hate is hate, all we’re talking about here is the particular variety.
This, right here, is always the ultimate destination of unchecked extremism whatever its flavor.
Fear, hate, violence, and death, that’s how it goes.
Writ large or on the personal level, extremism unimpeded always leads to the same place.
War, conflict, murder, terrorism, death, that’s the natural sum of extremism.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar likely didn’t have any friends because they didn’t really want any. There’s every kind of person in America, somewhere out there are people you can relate to, form a friendship with, establish a relationship with, no matter your origin, no matter how different you are.
Hell, attend a Science Fiction convention sometime and then tell me that there isn’t somebody for everybody.
Somewhere out there are people who will give you comfort, make you happy, be there in good times and bad.
But it takes work.
You’ve got to stop seeing others as alien and make an effort to meet them halfway.
And if you don’t, if you won’t, well then eventually you end up right here at fear, hate, violence, and death.
And that’s what always happens when you see people as other, as alien, as not one of us.
That’s what happens when you look out at the world in terror, you become terrorized.
And when you take that far enough, well, you become a terrorist.
The Tsarnaev brothers aren’t the only ones who refuse to meet America halfway.
They’re not the only ones who look around our vast and infinitely varied country, indeed the world, and see not friends, but enemies everywhere, aliens, other.
The Tsarnaevs are just the far end of a curve, they’re where you end up when extremism goes unchecked.
They are where you end up when fear and hate are allowed to flourish.
But there are a hell of a lot of points along that curve, each a little step closer to the edge.
The ironic part is that by their own words the Tsarnaevs felt themselves alone.
They are far, far, from alone.
There are plenty of people here in the United States who look upon the world just exactly the way the Tsarnaev’s did, just the way Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did, just exactly the way Major Nidal Malik Hasan did, just exactly as Eric Rudolph did, and just exactly as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did.
Events like the Boston Marathon bombing bring it all right into sharp focus.
From those who remain convinced that a Saudi national must have been involved – because he was a Saudi national, and a Muslim…
…To the once great news source, now sadly reduced to little more than a tabloid, who triumphantly announced a “dark skinned” man was responsible, and those who nodded and turned to each other and crowed, “told you so!”
…To those who immediately blamed the Tea Party or the Occupy Movement. And those, Right and Left, who continue to wage an unabated war of furious blind hatred on the twin fronts of news forums and social media, lobbing grenades of unguided ignorance and flaming rage at each other.
…To those who believe, and will continue to believe no matter what, that the president of the United States through the agency of some shadowy government organization conspired to blow up Boston in order to seize their goddamned guns. Because, really, isn’t everything about their goddamned guns? Really? I haven’t checked with The Blaze or Infowars yet today, so I’m not sure what the President’s exact role in all this is, but I think we can safely assume that Alex Jones or Glenn Beck will shortly announce the details of Obama’s secret plan to employ Chechens in his nefarious plot to destroy America – which, paradoxically, will no doubt be immediately followed by condemnation from the same sources, berating the President for “taking credit.”
…To all of those who took the public stage to announce who they hoped the terrorists would be, or wouldn’t be. Please let it be a Christian, not a Muslim. Please let it be a Muslim and not a Christian. Please, oh please, let it be an atheist. Let it be a liberal. Let it be a conservative. Please don’t let it be a black man. I sure hope it’s an illegal immigrant, or a member of the Weather Underground, or a homosexual. I suppose it’s human nature, to hope or to fear one way or the other, but when you do it in public, well, you know, you’re an asshole.
…To members of congress who blamed Muslims trained to “act like Hispanics” in some Mexican drug cartel run training camp south of the border. Remember, folks, it’s never too early to blame brown people. Or to just make things up whole cloth and pretend you know what you’re talking about.
…To the columnist for a major online Tabloid who publicly called via social media for the death of all Muslims – before the identity of the assumed terrorists were even known. Ironically, that columnist is black. You’ve got to wonder if he’d call for the death of all African Americans if it had turned out that the bombers were Black Panthers. Or Christians.
…And right on down to those religious organizations who blame gays, and by extension God, for every single ill that comes along – and I’m not just talking about Westboro Baptist Church here. Like the Tsarnaevs, they’re just the most obnoxious extreme end of an ugly curve. If you preach hate and intolerance from the pulpit, you’re no goddamned different, even if you are more polite about it, even if you wrap it up in a pointy hat and a pretty robe and claim that’s what Jesus would do. Fear and hate and intolerance are exactly that, fear and hate and intolerance, no matter how divine your holy man makes it sound.
There’s an editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, Fascism By The Numbers, subtitled “The thuggish majoritarianism of the Obama-era left.” It’s worth the read, though you might want to avoid the comment section. Given the general nature of my usual audience, you won’t like what it has to say, but it’s worth the read nonetheless. The author, James Taranto, outlines the grievous excesses of the supposed “liberal” media in general, and David Sirota in particular – a liberal radio host from Denver who said that he hoped the bombers would turn out to be “Caucasians” (and in fact it looks like Sirota got his wish, thought not exactly in the manner he wanted. You should always take great care when commanding the Djinn, just saying. But I digress). Taranto spends some considerable ink pointing out every left-leaning publication and pundit who expressed similar sentiments, i.e. they hoped the terrorists would turn out to be somewhere on the right side of the political aisle. He has a point. The same one I’m making here, and in the previous post. But what Taranto conveniently leaves out is this: when you have spent the last five years, or more, talking about secession, and revolution, and shooting down your government and your neighbors, when you spend all of your time hating others and calling them unAmerican, then you shouldn’t be all that surprised when people take you at your word.
And it goes both ways. Note that some of the very folks Taranto paints as victims of unwarranted blame and bias, are the same exact people who declared the Left must be responsible because way back in the 60’s they were the ones talking violent revolution and secession and shooting down their government and their neighbors.
What goes around, comes around, sooner or later.
What it comes down to is this: If you look out upon the world and you see only enemies, the problem isn’t them, it’s you.
If you don’t like being labeled as afraid, then stop being afraid.
If you don’t like being called ignorant, then stop acting ignorant.
If you don’t like being accused of violence, then stop threatening violence.
If you don’t like being called a hater, then stop hating.
Extremism, unimpeded, always leads to the same place.
If you want an end to terror, then don’t allow extremism to go unimpeded, unchecked, unquestioned.
Confront it, always, and call out it for what it is, hate, fear, ignorance, and terror.
If you don’t want to be labeled an extremist, well, then you know what to do.
So do it.