Friday, April 19, 2013

…And They Are Us


[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]


 

Chechens.

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.

Chechens.

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.

128 comments:

  1. As always, on the mark! Thanks for a good read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As ever, a good read, with which I only disagree with a single point- I want to have the surviving bomber live out a long, lonely and pitiful life in jail, having time to come to terms with his actions, and perhaps repent of them. I'd like to claim that is because I want the State (whichever one you belong to) to be better than the killers, but maybe that just means I'm less merciful than you and 60 years of jail might be more cruel.

      Delete
    2. If Massachusetts law prevails, even though this is obviously a federal case, he WILL probably be sentenced to life in prison without parole, since Massachusetts did away with the death penalty some years ago.

      Delete
    3. Addendum: If life in prison is to truly be a punishment, then access to television, the internet, the public (including ghostwriters) other than immediate family, and reporters should be severely curtailed -- unless in the case of being engaged in an activity that accrues financial reward, said reward is 100% compensation to the victims. I wish that was the case for EVERY murderer and perpetrators of other heinous crimes.

      Delete
  2. Other than the part about the needle (don't believe in capital punishment, I'd rather someone live a long, contemplative life, in a small cell), points well made.

    Admittedly, I hoped it wasn't going to be a Muslim, primarily because I wanted to avoid the whole anti-islam crap. But, hate is hate, and regardless of the background of the individuals involved, the masses are going to be whipped up into a frenzy... and the dumbasses WANT to be whipped up into a phobic frenzy. I don't think I'll understand the human animal...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you, Sean. I concluded that the desire to see someone dead is not something that a civilized society should be indulging. Particularly since it's really costly to go there (responsibly). Besides, in a strange way, it lets the culpable avoid having to face what they've done. Death comes to us all, anyway. But having to sit in a concrete cell, for years and years and years, with the possibility of your conscience waking up... that seems like a harder punishment. Particularly if the images you get to see are those of the people you hurt and killed... and nothing else.

      Tim McVeigh wanted out.

      I think punishment would have been to leave him in a cell, with images of the children he'd killed. For the next 40 years or so.

      And it would have been cheaper for us to do that.

      Delete
    2. I think punishment would have been to leave him in a cell, with images of the children he'd killed. For the next 40 years or so.

      And I'd be just fine with that.

      Delete
    3. I hope the medical team can keep the young man alive long enough to learn what made him and his brother so hateful and if there are others in the wings.
      I wish him a very, very long and lonely life in prison, surrounded by images of the people he killed, the people who lost limbs and his parents' sad eyes.
      Thank you for another good thought provoking read, Jim.

      Delete
    4. I'd also hope that the State/country as a whole do not abandon those who have sustained injuries- particularly those who've lost limbs, and provide the very best in prosthetics for them.

      Delete
    5. I had an equally malicious thought that he should be kept in prison, with the general population ala Jeffrey Dahmer.

      Delete
    6. I'm going to write a lot more about the death penalty and my feelings about it over at the Garage, but until then, the tl:dr version goes like this:
      My son, Sean, was murdered just over 5 years ago. (For those of you keeping track, yes, I've buried 2 kids in the last 5+ years. Sucks.) 2 guys suckered him into opening his apartment door, and one stabbed him, looking for drugs.
      At first, I would cheerfully have gutted James Stacey Bush with a dull butter knife. But I could no more inflict the pain we felt (and still feel) on another family, than I could make my own pain go away. It is just too damn hard to deal with what we've been through, to think that inflicting it on someone else, someone equally innocent, would assuage my and my wife's broken hearts.
      The more I thought about it, the less stomach I had for institutionalized murder.
      There are still times when my anger swells, and I fantasize about paying someone to kill him in prison. I can't watch "24", because it is too close to my darkness. But in the more rational moments of my life, few as they are sometimes, I know that I could not live knowing that I took a father away from his children, or a son from his mother, no matter the justification.

      Delete
  3. If I had to place money on the board, I have a feeling we'll never hear the reason and we'll find Dzhokhar in about 5 days when the stink will lead us to his body.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As righteous a read as ever you've composed. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. They've got the guy, alive but injured. He's in custody and on the way to the hospital.
    Hope he stays alive long enough.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jim,
    Instead of all of the useless players in our MSM, you should be the go-to guy for the accurate, unvarnished truth on any issue, imo. I appreciate your work.

    majii

    ReplyDelete
  7. I also agree with every word, except the needle part. (check sediments in place of sentiments toward the end there). This is a great one, Jim. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Poignant, well-written, as usual, Jim.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think I agree with Sean. I just didn't want to see MORE Muslims blamed for what two did.
    Some of your points are very good but I wonder. If JW had ever had to experience being blamed for what other black people did, or had lost a job opportunity because "we tried a woman, she didn't work out", or had ever been assumed to be perverted because "that gay couple in California molested their adopted daughter" then he might find some mercy and compassion for those who go in fear.
    I understand that fear can be dangerous and corrosive, but I have to ask, starting from the vantage point of straight, white, and male, have you ever given thought to what it is like to NOT be "normal"? To always be identified by and representative of, those in common with whom you have accidental traits of birth? You will always be seen as yourself in America. As someone who has been seen as "other" I can find mercy for those who hoped it would not be an "other". We did not create the system, we just try to survive in it.
    As to the "liberal media", yes, there was a lot of irresponsible speculation, but these supposed liberals were just recently on record with more sympathy for the Steubenville rapists than for their victim.
    Re: The Journal: Op ed is all very well, but we cannot forget who owns the journal now and what their message would, of necessity, be.
    Other than that, may I compliment you on an eloquent and passionate piece of work?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LadyM, I do agree that stereotyping is a huge issue, especially in the US, where Us vs. Them is a big moneymaker. However, it does seem like you are using a few stereotypes yourself. Yes, white, straight men are seen as themselves by other white, straight men, but as a woman, I admit that I often evaluate a strange man, especially those I have not been introduced to, as a potential hazard. It's not something I'm proud of and would point to the excuse of society's ills, etc, but it's a necessary evil in my mind. When I've been to third world countries, there is assumption that because I'm white, I'm rich (relatively speaking, I AM!). I imagine that happens to white, straight men too. If you have never made an assumption about a white, straight man, then more power to you, I admire your clear-sightedness. But those who have made assumptions are not seeing the person (regardless of gender or race, straight, white men included) as "themselves."
      I'll clarify that I agree straight, white men have many advantages, but not being the subject of stereotyping and assumptions is not one of them.

      Delete
  10. Past tense of "to shit" is "shat". Very elegant word that doesn't get used much in its proper form anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In deference to William Shatner's Twitter effort vis a vis "Shat" I try not to use the word.

      Delete
    2. Jim, none of us actually give a shat if you use it properly.

      Your typos are part of the charm.

      Delete
  11. Don't know what "Squirrel" means but I like the critters so I checked it...Anyhoo, I'm kind of tired of hoping people will die. This dude is 19. I didn't know my arse from third base when I was 19. The one with the decision-making power, Tamerlan(e) I assume, is the one we would like to ask WHY, but he's dead. This one? A follower, I bet, a foot soldier, who "followed his brother like a puppy dog" according to older brother's former wrestling coach. I agree with you: their own uncle said they were losers, that they couldn't get along. I've been glued to the news most of the day, it just keeps getting more complicated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stop right there. This was no foot 'soldier'. Sen. Lucy Graham is calling for him to be held and tried as an enemy combatant. I find that extremely offensive to put these gutless wonders under the heading that generally describes a person who puts their lives on the line for their countries. And I also don't care why they did it, whether they had troubled lives growing up, whether they felt they didn't have any friends, how young they were, what religion, etc. etc. etc. None of it makes any difference. They ruthlessly and gutlessly killed people in a horrible and devastating fashion who did not deserve to end their lives that way. Do not raise them to any level other than what they are. Domestic terrorists, killers and criminals. Duff in nofla

      Delete
  12. Jim,

    Just heard about your blog through a friend of mine from our neighbor to the North. I am moving more and more toward pacifism being a follower of Jesus and all. There are several comments at the beginning of this blog that I am somewhat offended at. However, there is much more that I identify with as I read on. Well, crap! I guess that means I am going to have to visit here somewhat regularly--like I don't have enough to read already!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome to visit as often as you like. However, if you were offended at things I said in this post, you should prepare yourself to be offended on a regular basis. Just saying.

      Then again, as a follower of Jesus, that shouldn't be a problem, given how many people he managed to offend with the things he said.

      Welcome aboard.

      Delete
    2. I am certainly capable of overlooking an offense. Yes, Jesus certainly offended many so it will not be a problem.

      Delete
  13. I find the dismissal of the polling curious--and utterly predictable.

    90% (or more) of the population wants something... oh, but they might all change their minds tomorrow, the sillies....

    Oh, and who knows if 90% of the polled are at all representative of the population?

    Uh. Curiously, we have decades of polling data to explore that. How it's done (well, and badly, and maliciously). How reliable it is.

    Pretty damned reliable. Maybe off by a few points--when done competently. Someone want to ask Nate Silver about this?

    But the whole "senators know better than *you* and are in *real* touch with their constituents..." leaves me mouth agape. Uh, are we talking about the members of the US Senate? Folks who... no, this is shooting fish in a barrel. Hell, no, it's dynamiting fish in a barrel.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I commented to a friend earlier today, before more details about the suspect were known, that "Fear makes people stupid. Ignorance makes people fearful. The two together are a toxic cycle that will destroy our country faster than any terrorist."

    If people would take the time to think, to learn, to actually UNDERSTAND each other, there'd be fewer Tsarnaev brothers in this world. But because so many folks are taught to obey, not to think, to listen, not to observe, to react, not act purposefully, I despair for the future.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I suspect that the only reason your going to get is that he was doing it to please his older brother. I just hope he is dealt with by the judicial system as quickly as possible so he fades into obscurity and irrelevance as quickly as possible. Unfortunately I think the whole thing will be turned into a circus that will only cause him to become an inspiration to other extremists of every stripe. I also have mixed feelings about weather he gets the needle. Not because of capital punishment being right or wrong I think that for some crimes it should be almost mandatory, but you have the same problem with the whole process becoming a circus and fueling his image as a hero or martyr.
    Great post as always.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Humans are complex, imagine the psychological calculus of these young men. It just makes me sad. War, its resultant mangling of people’s psyches, I am overcome with sadness for all the victims of this sick violence. Answers? I don’t have any, except to say we should monitor our personal prejudices continually.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Couple things...if you can set down a bomb in a crowd full of live people, sitting in a jail cell looking at pictures for 40 years isn't going to do a damn thing to change you. Secondly, you may not know your arse from third base when you are 19, but surely by then you've formed an opinion about whether killing innocent people is acceptable or not. Following around your older brother and being influenced by him is one thing; planning, strategizing, building bombs and planning mass killings is a whole lot different than simply being "led astray" by an older sibling, ESPECIALLY at age 19.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In cases where two young people collude in a killing spree (Leopold and Loeb, Klebold and Harris, etc.), it's often the case that one of them is a dyed-in-the-wool psychopath (I'll comment on that further below) and the other a disgruntled and not too bright, therefore easily manipulable tool. Once the latter has voluntarily participated in the crime, of course he's equally culpable and must be punished, but the odds are good that he wouldn't ever have done such a thing except for the influence of the former. As my husband noted, most of the people at Jonestown weren't killed; they voluntarily drank the kool-aid and gave it to their children.
      Dewey

      Delete
    2. i am getting a bit tired of the "19 years old" excuse. My son at 19 was the cook on a missile base - he was responsible. My husband at 19 was employed in the very same job that he would eventually retire from - after being drafted (before he turned 20) a few months later to serve in the military. My dad, at 19, was in Korea, fighting in World War II. i am a bit tired of the 19 year old excuse. Some parents raise respectable reliable 19 year olds.

      Delete
  18. We have met the enemy and he is us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pogo and Walt Kelly - I was scrolling down to see if someone had beaten me to it before I posted it!

      Delete
  19. We have to know why. Not so excuses can be made, not so some rationalization can be found, but because we have to understand where these guys were coming from. What was the catalyst?
    It does matter.
    Then lock him away in a deep dark hole, but do not give him the release of a death sentence. Do not give him that tagline attached to his name for history.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I was pissed, wicked pissed really, that Boston got such a low blow, literally, on Patriots/Boston Marathon Day. Fuckers! My hate never really festered toward anyone or any group until this morning, when I found out about the big gun fight and the dead brother laying in the road while the younger brother drove away. I started hating the dead guy right away and started having some compassion for the younger guy. (easy Jim, I know he's a grown up boy that makes choices) It felt better thinking that the older brother was the real fucker and he pressured and coerced by any and all means to get the kid to follow along. Until I find out otherwise that's how I'm going to play "my" hate in my own mind. Don't get me wrong, I'm not thinking innocent, not by a long shot, but just to keep my lynch mob mentality of hate in check. Also, that was a fuck of a lot of firepower for one bloody kid.

    ReplyDelete
  21. It's good that they captured him alive so they have the chance to question him. But prepare yourselves for disappointment. There will never be an explanation/reason that will satisfy people and bring them closure. Some things will never make sense. Some things can never be explained. People want to know why, why, why. Unfortunately, sometimes it is simply pure evil and hatred.

    If the suspect gives a specific reason, will that make any of this tragedy better? Will people say, "Oh, now I see why he did it." No, they won't. Because no matter the reason, nothing justifies this cowardly and hateful act of violence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing justifies it, but by tearing their motivations and methods down to the atomic level, we can learn from them, and potentially gain tools we can use to prevent this from happening again, or at least spot another one in the offing.

      Or, if we just goosestep along with scumbags like GOP fascists King, or Graham, we can just go for the easy way out and indulge our bloodlust and revenge fantasies, and become just like these guys.

      Delete
  22. This is home turf for me. I live 3 miles from “ground zero” in Watertown. In fact, for 20 years, I lived about a mile from it. Susan’s office is about a half mile from the site, and we passed within 150 feet of it on Wed, when I was giving her a ride to her office. We are close enough that the helicopters have been rattling windows about once an hour.

    Here is a little bit about the place where the shootout occurred in the wee hours of this morning. Its a quiet neighborhood of fairly closely packed two family houses, many built in the 1920’s. They were bought by first generation immigrants, mostly Italian, and Armenian, and their children or grandchildren now own and live in them. They rent out the first floor apartments to a varied sort, some of the latest wave of immigrants, but there is also a large contingent of grad students taking advantage of the places 3 miles (on an electric bus line) from Harvard, and 5 miles from MIT. (the undergrads live in cheaper digs, across the river in Allston)

    On Mt Auburn St, which is the “main drag”, there are the usual collection of small restaurants, a hardware store, several funeral homes and a bunch of Armenian markets. There is an enormous Greek Orthodox church. Its also home to the Mt Auburn Cemetery, the first big “garden” cemetery in the US.

    For 15 years, I worked literally across the street from where the MIT police officer was shot. I am at MIT at least once a week (I am one of the instructors for the bell changeringers guild). Sue got her PhD there, her father was class of 1936. My father spent a year there, before getting invited to go visit scenic Korea by the US Army. I used to hang out in their computer lab as a high school student in the early 70’s. (when I started using the net, it could have a maximum of 256 hosts, and it was not in danger of hitting that limit for a few years).

    I will be there on Monday night, ringing bells with the students, to celebrate the lives of all those affected by these events. The performance will take us around 45 minutes nonstop. http://nagcr.org will explain.

    The only question will we be in the usual practice room, or out in the main lobby where the community can wander by. (this is not the sort of things that one does for an audience – its something people are supposed to hear in passing) Others in the guild will be ringing the bells in the tower of Old North church this Sunday. (as in “one if by land”, and these bells are the same set that Revere also rang) If my hands allowed, I would be one of them.

    I do not own firearms, and I don’t expect that to change. Nor will I be changing the places that I am willing to go.

    The closest I come to a firearm is the “powder actuated” tool that I use to set nails in concrete and steel. I do build “mechanical artillery”. They hurl vegetables.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I understand the need to want to know "why?" but what if it turns out the answer is just "because"? Whatever the reason won't undo the horror or bring anyone back. Not everything can be explained or solved neatly and tied up with a bow. In the meantime, it's all speculation and filler to keep the buzz going and eyes on the television/computer.
    Whether it's feeling ostracized or alone, or bullied, or whatever mental issue causes someone to think this is way to deal with something that doesn't suit you, I think it's symptomatic of the times. Some people think violence is the proper response to any perceived problem or slight. Not long ago, there was a local murder when a drunk guy got into an argument with the host over her asking him to move his car-guess who ended up on the wrong end of a gun? Just last week, a guy who was feuding with his next-door neighbor shot him dead in the middle of the street. I mean, have we become nothing more than short-tempered sociopaths? Whether you plan something like the bombing or shoot a 17-yo dead in an argument at McDonald's (last week), the "why" is never anything that makes anyone understand the reasoning behind it. I don't care why; I just care that they are caught and punished. Great work by law enforcement-hope it was fast enough for everyone with the attention span of a two-yo.
    Pam in PA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can anyone pinpoint when it became de rigueur to "act out" one's frustrations and angst rather than sublimate it in work, retreat, or prayer? Obviously none of the latter worked for pedophiles in the Catholic Church, but there was a time when episodes in this country of mass murder and destruction were rare...

      Delete
  24. With innocent people dead, the why seems irrelevant, but I'd love to get it. Mr. Wright, I certainly hope your assertion that unabated fear and hate always lead to this is way off your usual mark. Most conservatives I know certainly fit the criteria, which would mean there are an awful lot of people on the march towards being mass murderers.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Some people I know (and am related to) started with the "Muslim terrorist" thing today. After asking what difference their faith made to the dead, I bit back the urge to say anything more, because I have finally realized that some people hate so much they are beyond hope. What I don't understand is how they do not realize just how much like their "enemy" they are ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I grew up in a Britain that was under (what seemed like) a constant assault of P.I.R.A bombs and shootings. The Nationalist Northern Irish were demonised, dehumanised, and viewed by many as animals. The hate was palpable. It is strange that the same level of disgust was not levelled at the so-called 'loyalist' murderers - it was, but nowhere near the same level of disgust. Now the hatred is directed at Muslims and the hate for the Irish has faded, the hate is always there, it just finds a new focus to suit the times.
      Americans (some anyway) copped for some of that hatred because of those who funded the P.I.R.A. terror campaigns, ive been guilty of this in the past myself, its not nice and its not pleasant, but neither is running down a Manchester street to avoid a provo bomb. We like to think of ourselves as righteous and not to think about how others see us but we are all capable of blind hatred, the trick is to recognise it and reign it in.
      My thoughts to the people of Boston today.

      Delete
  26. After hearing all day about how people wanted this kid dead, I kept thinking about a story I heard many years ago. Two religious men (priests, I think) were walking in skid row when an alcoholic bum asked for money. One of the men took out his wallet and handed over a sum. As they walked away, the other man asked the one who had given the money why he had done that "since he's only going to drink it away." The man told his compatriot, "I didn't do it for him. I did it for me."

    Punishment - oh yes - to the farthest extent the law allows short of death. (I don't believe in the death penalty.) What he and his brother did was wicked and wrong by any measure. And, although I understand the urge, I don't want to be the kind of person who wishes death for another. I'm not doing it for him, I'm doing it for me.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I don't think you have it nailed. Being Chechens or Muslim had very little to do with their terrorism.
    The two brothers are very different. I think the younger surviving brother was not religious or political. He adored his big brother.
    I think their uncle was on to something about Tamerlan. He called his nephews "failures". I believe his anger was related to his failed boxing career. We are lucky Dzhokhar survived. Maybe we can find out what drove them from him. My prayers are with the folks in Boston.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, being both Chechen and Muslim probably had a lot to do with their terrorism, in that both the culture and religion are steeped in violence to the point of being normalized in their psyches. It was far easier for them to make that leap than it would be for others.

      Delete
    2. It was far easier for them to make that leap than it would be for others.

      Easier than for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols? Or Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Eric Rudolph,Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? Or Jared Lee Loughner? Or Adam Lanza? Or the gang bangers in East LA? Or the Alaskan Citizens Militia? Or that bunch in Waco?

      Chechnya isn't the only country steeped in violence and violent culture.

      Just saying.

      Delete
    3. Jim: You're "Just saying" and I'm just agreeing wholeheartedly, about all of it. Our American culture is very violent, and a whole lot of Americans are darned proud of that. I have noticed since 9/11 and maybe even before) that the most common American solution to negative action by others is violent revenge - not working to relieve the cause of the problem, not the "WWJD" of forgiveness or turning the other cheek. Americans want revenge. Very much like fundamentalists all over the world. And the more fundamental our religions get, the worse it gets. This so-called "Christian nation" has accepted the Old Testament and daily, hourly, speaks for but actively rejects the New. I don't know - it just really gets me down sometime. With all the beautiful young kids in the world - we so badly need some peace and forgiveness - but instead cling to the revenge.

      Delete
  28. I don't fit in conventional social or political categories well but I'm really seriously lefty/socialist/"progressive" and have very high standards for people I admire politically (I have a number of far more socially, fiscally, politically conservative friends than I am). I quite admire your writing. Your opinions tend to jibe with my own and your standards seem pretty high too.

    I believe that answers are already unknowable and that we're mostly scared well into the territory of making up answers on our own.

    Colin, my Aussie friend, said to me "There are no answers." I think he's right.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wanting vengeance is a very natural response to all of life's terrors and injustices. What distinguishes healthy people from psychopaths is our ability to admit those feelings and make a choice not to follow through. Yes, we do that for ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Let us celebrate that at least one of the Boston suspects is alive, having not been slaughtered in an all-American "suicide by cop" scenario, and can explain what this young idiot citizen thought he and his stupid older brother were trying to do. I'm all for moving toward criminal prosecutions, and away from military tribunals for dumbasses who might know, but really have no idea, why they might be treated as "military combatants.." Jay Bybee and John Yoo are worser haters than these weak, stupid young men . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  31. Replies
    1. Holy Cats. Have you met a cat? The phrase means basically the same as "You are my God!"

      Hope that answers your question.

      Delete
    2. Now that you're back to serious subjects, it is a little hard to determine whether or not "Squirrels!" is an appropriate emotional response...
      Dewey

      Delete
  32. Don't think you were too subtle Jim.
    More like serious and honest to the point of causing real discomfort.
    First time I read this left me with the feeling I have when trying to leaf past , without touching them, the pages of up close photos of insects one finds in books listing fauna. For me, somehow , insects are the ultimate other, the true alien .
    Second and third reads I found myself nodding my head, not because I agree with your personal view about killing the suspect should he be found guilty, but because I see "...they are us" in ways I hadn't worked through before.
    The Fascism by the Numbers piece ? Well. Hmmm. Still working through the pot-kettle dealie there.

    Thanks Jim.

    Alaska Pi


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Walt Kelly was right in 1971, putting the words in Pogo's mouth: "We have met the enemy, and he is us".

      He was talking about our tendency to litter the landscape with pollution, but the sentiment is universal.

      Delete
  33. Beyond depressing isn't it, Jim, this rabid desire to hate someone or some group? It seems America has become a nation of low-information haters with no passion for truth. Sad. Thank you for your well-written analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Have you read Eric Hoffer? In particular, "The True Believer: A History of Mass Movements", or "The Ordeal of Change"? I think he's rather brilliant on this topic. Well worth a read if so inclined.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Deep breath, let's see if I can state my thoughts coherently-

    1) We always hope that THIS atrocity will be the last, or among the last. I fear it never will be. Because, as Jim and many of the commenters here allude, fear, hate and prejudice are behind this and probably all atrocities. And we will never be rid of prejudice, I fear. We all have it to varying degrees- I do, and you do, too. Don't kid yourself.
    We really can't avoid it, not as long as the word "them" is in our language. We categorize the world, including people, into groups. And here's the thing: members of a group do share certain characteristics, that's why we can categorize them. Trees share a subset of characteristics that are different from bromeliads; same goes for Muslims and Methodists. In the latter case, the subset is is just an identification with certain religious priciples
    Where the prejudice enters is when we associate one or more characteristics (positive or negative)with the members of the group that do not actually define that group . Being blond does not automatically make you either dumb or attractive,just as being christian does not make you saintly. And on an individual level, we associate our own emotive responses with certain groups. As a child, did your parents show fear or nervousness around (Asians/Blacks/Jews/ThemdamnMethodists)? Then that nervousness probably infuses your perception of that group of people.
    The question is whether we each let our (often) subconscious misperceptions rule us, or confront them with our conscious minds and try to correct them. As Jim said above "What matters is how we express those extreme ideas, and where that might lead." Unfortunately, many people around the world embrace this fear of "them", the Other, and make it a driving force in their lives.

    2) The root cause of this atrocity? I think it is personal insecurity coupled with the feeling that life is unfair. The Tsarnaev brothers have been characterized as misfits and losers - well, that's got to be someone else's fault, right? Couple 1) with 2) and you have a recipe for a mindless, lashing-out paroxysm of misdirected self-loathing.

    3) The needle or not? I am conflicted. While culling the heard is an attractive prospect, part of me says that we should be civilised and not indulge in more killing. Another part says the needle is too nice, and that he should be slowly beaten to death with nunchuks made of old pressure-cooker handles, such beating to be administered by anyone who cares to show up, victims and their relatives get a FastPass to the front of the line.
    I guess that makes me a kinda normal human.

    I dunno, what do you think?

    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just boggles my mind to think that "personal insecurity coupled with the feeling that life is unfair", being "misfits and losers" can culminate in such a massive overreaction, after what must have been months of plotting, accumulating the wherewithall, and following through.

      In our current social and economic climate in the USA, there has to be millions of people who are also suffering personal insecurity etc. and feel like misfits/losers thanks to their banks foreclosing on their houses, their employers cutting their hours, their kids being deprived of Head Start, etc.

      Why do we not have an epidemic of similar massive overreaction to despair, by ordinary Americans not influenced by Islamic jihadists?

      Or will we?

      Delete
    2. I did not mean to imply that lashing out in this way was a normal response to failure. I see that I did not make that clear at all.
      You are absolutely right - the vast majority of people deal with life's uncertainties in appropriate ways. They pick themselves up as best they can and plunge on. Some even rise to heroism out of adversity.
      But these guys are broken, pitiful creatures. They descended into a violent fantasy world that they then made real. They definitely come from the bad end of the bell curve. And my mind boggles, too.

      But your comment makes me think. Have we seen a rise in recent years in self-destructive behaviors like alcoholism or suicide? I haven't thought to ask that question.

      I certainly hope we do not see a rise in public violence! It already feels as though "Stand on Zanzibar" was prescient journalism, and not science fiction.

      Bruce

      Delete
    3. There must be violent psychopaths in every large ethnic/religious group; in fact, America produces more than most. How such people express their evil may be culturally influenced, and they often proffer phony justifications for their violence to cover up the fact that the real answer is "because I enjoy hurting people". I've heard an estimate that there may be 200 to 300 serial killers living free in the U.S. (By comparison, if there were 300 active "Muslim" terrorists operating in the U.S., the hatred and persecution of Muslims that we already see would be escalated to a horrific level.) Maybe when a child from a white Christian family develops a lust to kill, he is likely to kill (usually) women one at a time in sexually sadistic ways and blame their sexuality, while a psychopath from a Muslim family will be more likely to kill by bomb and wave religion as an excuse. But I have seen no evidence that Muslims are any more likely to kill strangers for sport, all methods and alleged motives combined, than white/Judeo-Christian Americans. Those who profit hugely from fomenting Islamophobia refuse to admit that any Muslim who does something evil could have motivations other than Islam.
      Dewey

      Delete
    4. 'It just boggles my mind to think that "personal insecurity coupled with the feeling that life is unfair", being "misfits and losers" can culminate in such a massive overreaction, after what must have been months of plotting, accumulating the wherewithall, and following through.'

      Is there really that much difference between this and what Bush did to Iraq? Cause really, I can certainly see the parallels.

      Delete
    5. Cthulhu, since most of your comment was quoting my comment, can you go into further detail about your last 2 sentences?

      Granted, many people including me consider GW Bush and his administration cronies to be war criminals (and some other Wall Streeters and corporatists just plain criminals), but please spell out for me where the parallels are.

      Delete
    6. KaJo, Shrub was a little man who FAILED at everything he ever attempted, having to be bailed out by Daddy's pals again and again. He clearly has massive Daddy issues, is an insecure dry drunk, who massively overreacted to 9-11 by lying to the American people so he could call himself a War President and feel like a big man. Literally, I see him as the same kind of guy these two Bostonites are being painted as, only operating on a larger scale.

      Delete
    7. Re: KaJo at 7:43 am
      Why do we not have an epidemic of similar massive overreaction to despair, by ordinary Americans not influenced by Islamic jihadists?

      A few questions/comments:
      1. On what are you basing the presumption built into this statement that there is an "epidemic" of "massive overreaction to despair" by "Americans influenced by Islamic jihadists"? Because I can only come up with a handful of examples in the last few decades: 9/11 (obviously), the previous attempt to bomb the WTC, the underwear bomber, Fort Hood...and, that's about it off the top of my head, though I'm sure I'm missing some. I wouldn't call a handful an epidemic. Heck, even if I'm off by an order of magnitude, I still wouldn't call 100 or so individuals out of a population of 2.5 million Muslims in the US an "epidemic".

      2. On the flip side, on what are you basing your statement that Americans not influenced by Islamic jihadists are not showing "massive [i.e., violent] overreactions"? Because when I think back over the same last few decades, I can come up with a lot of examples of non-Islamic violence which, in many cases, could arguably be attributed - at least in part - to personal insecurity, a sense of unfairness, and etc. Off the top of my head: Columbine, Virginia Tech, the guy who shot up the women in the gym, the guy who shot the guard at the Holocaust museum, the guy who flew his Cessna into a government building, ALL the MANY men who have bombed and otherwise terrorized Planned Parenthood facilities, the Unabomber, and, of course, Oklahoma City, just to mention a few. And these are just the mass shootings - then there are all the small-scale shootings of a few people, often family members and/or loved ones, that flies under the radar. Then there's the well-documented rise in domestic violence during recessions.

      I just don't see any evidence supporting the claim that despair has a uniquely violence-inducing effect on Muslims, any more than the population at large. The only difference is that when a Muslim man kills people he's called a "terrorist", while when a white non-Muslim kills people he's called a "lone wolf" or, most commonly, "crazy".
      ~viajera

      Delete
    8. I would suggest that we have seen a large overreaction from" those not influenced by Islamic jihadists" in recent years.
      The correlation between the rise in Patriot group and/or hate group formation with the recession and Mr Obama's presidency is pretty clear.

      http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/the-year-in-hate-and-extremism#.UXPoLkqC2So

      There are also the far left ELF and similar organizations- have we forgotten all the fires and bombs there just because people didn't die?
      If the measure of "massive" overreaction is displays of domestic terrorism, there are ample examples, as viajera points to - do add in ALF and ELF please , as their behavior fits the definition of "domestic terrorism" under law, though it is a lot harder to be as angry and upset about property damage as it is be disgusted and horrified by the death and destruction of hundreds of innocent people.


      As per Bruce's question/answer " The root cause of this atrocity? I think it is personal insecurity coupled with the feeling that life is unfair."
      Probably partly. Maybe a lot. We don't know very much yet. Lots of speculating going on.
      There are those to whom the mere mention of Muslim or Islam has settled the issue. There are others who have settled on notions that since we all know life is unfair, there is no use or reason to consider a line of inquiry here.
      There is a fair amount of psychological, sociological, and anthropological work out there which looks at effects of transmigration on personal and cultural identity on groups and individuals including what happens when weak or disaffected persons glom onto a set of ideas and behaviors which seem to provide answers to their problems.
      Transmigration, at least for now, does appear to be part of this situation. That cannot be said of Eric Rudolph and other homegrown terrorists. I do wonder a lot about whether identity issues play into that kind of derailment though- per Erik Erikson's arguments in Identity and Uprootedness in Our Time.

      Alaska Pi

      Delete
    9. Bruce, I've been feeling like I've been living in "Stand on Zanzibar" for years. The prevelance of people going "mucker," especially in the last ten years is mind-boggling.

      NaluGirl

      Delete
    10. NaluGirl, I know what you mean. What makes it even eerier (and I have to note that I haven't located my copy of the book to double-check this) is that the story is set approximately in this time. 2011 I think.
      I think I detect a re-read coming on.

      Bruce

      Delete
    11. I've been thinking the last day or two. (No, come out from behind the couch, there)
      Maybe we should dust off Brunner's word "mucker" and get everyone to start using it in situations like this.

      For those who haven't read the book (and why not, I ask?) the term derives from "amok" and describes people who snap under the overcrowding & social pressure of the future world Brunner described (which is about now) and start laying about with death & destruction.
      Here's why I think this should happen:
      1) The word alludes to an unhinged mental state. I believe anyone who would commit mass murder & mayhem qualifies on that score.
      2) The word will never carry the gravitas, if you will, of the word "terrorist". I am all for NOT magnifying the status of these crapbaskets - whether it's Osama or a pimpled teen with a gun and self-esteem issues. This is also in line with current online sentiment to remember the victims & responders, rather than the perpetrators.
      3) It contains the word "muck" - reminding us of the bilgewater ethical level these people have descended to.
      4) It is devoid of political connotations. I don't care what your political grudge is, if you kill innocent people to prove a point, you are back to the level of pimpled teen with self-esteem issues & a weapon.

      I'm not saying that use of this word will deter anyone from committing mayhem, but just maybe we can have the satisfaction of denying them the satisfaction of being called "terrorists", "enemy combatants" or any other term that might feed their egos. They are muckers. (never capitalised, by the way. Not even that much deference to them.) Can you imagine if all the media started to refer to them as such?

      I know this is a late post, and probably won't be seen by many, so it's unlikely to catch on. But wouldn't it be awesome?

      Bruce

      Delete
  36. Dear Jim;

    These two, for unknown reasons, chose to kill two and wound and maim dozens with their bombs. The owners of the West fertilizer vaporize 15 people, wound many more, and nearly level a town, all in the quest for $$. The owners of that company, and their political pals and cronies worked very hard to cut regulations and inspections that allowed the explosion to happen, and let those people of West live with doom on their doorstep every day, unknowing.

    So, which one is the REAL terrorist? Which one is worse? If Tsarnaev bombed for religious or political reasons, he's a terrorist. If he did it for money, what is he then? A good Capitalist?

    FWIW, I don't want him dead. I'm way past the point of reciprocal bloodlust. I don't hold myself above anyone who does, Jim, I walked a long hard road to get to this point. I DO want Justice done, however, and besides, Mass doesn't have the death penalty. What I DO want, is this kids life dissected down to the last atom. I want to know who what and where inspired this insane act. I want to know that the FBI DIDN'T have anything to do with this plot, like they have in so many other entrapment plots. I'm cynical, but who made me that way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting how this is slipping by under the radar isn't it? Given it's proximity to April 19th and that it is in Waco, that seems very foolish, for multiple reasons.

      Delete
    2. Very good points.

      Delete
    3. And when despite their best efforts, a rule is put in place that they don't care for, they simply ignore it. In this case, they never bothered with the DHS paperwork for their stock of ammonium nitrate - They had 1,350 times the amount that mandated their reporting its existence, and the tracking of sales.

      It does a little bit reenforce my usual joke about DHSecurityTheater, as an official (presumably off the record) said "We had no idea they existed". A half million pounds of explosive, and you had no idea it was there.

      Delete
    4. Jeff Lamm and Lorigarrett65, that's the first thing I thought of when I heard "Texas fertilizer plant blew up" - the 3 ingredients to grab my attention being Texas, fertilizer, and blew up.

      And the next thing I thought of was, how quickly the gun safety measures being discussed before the Senate and about to be voted on got shuffled to the back burner while the Boston explosions and this fertilizer plant explosion took front page.

      It's enough to make even sane logical progressive folks get a little conspiracy-theory obsessed, especially when you hear the NRA's lobbying to prevent taggants from being included in the manufacturer of gunpowder hampers FBI investigations of gunpowder bombs.

      http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/04/17/how-the-gun-lobby-has-already-blocked-bostons-bombing-investigators/

      Delete
    5. Oh please. The owner of the West Fertilizer Plant was a farmer who'd lived in West his whole life (82 years) and bought it when the previous owner was having financial troubles. He might possibly have been careless, ignorant of regulations, etc., or even "old-school-we've always-done-it-this-way" set in his ways, but....accusing him of being in cahoots with cronies to prevent regulation is a reach. At best. Someone sells fertilizer in farming towns, and in West it was Mr. Adair. Your local gas station stores tens of thousands of gallons of combustable liquid underground just around the corner from you. Its pretty safe....except...when its near a fire.

      In a perfect world, ammonium nitrate storage rules will be modified. But then again, in a perfect world a tragedy involving mass murder of 1st graders would result in new regulations regarding gun ownership.

      Oh, by the way, there was a railcar full of ammonium nitrate on a side rail adjacent to the explosion that fortunately did not blow up. Its not always explosive.

      Delete
    6. The issue with fertilizer manufacturing and storage is that they make and use many of the same ingredients that straight-up high explosives manufacturers use. Except the explosives manufacturers are watched carefully, and they treat their products as the high-danger materials they are. The fertilizer plants treat the exact same things as if they were no more dangerous than manure.

      Delete
  37. Why did they do it? They wanted to.

    The police that arrested the younger one, the medics who treated him, and the others who have been in contact with him since his apprehension probably have wanted to do things to him. They did not. This is the difference between 'rule of law' and anarchy. This is the difference between mature human beings and animals.

    Danny

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeff Lamm

      My post is right after yours, and looks like a response to you. It is not.

      I do not believe the root cause of West fertilizer is known. There is a huge difference in the mindset. In Boston, the only purpose was to kill and maim. In Texas, people were trying to make a living, increase crop yield, and make a better way of life for others. Why are you using a computer, which is made with petrochemicals, heavy metals, and really nasty industrial processes for the integrated circuit fabrication? By using the output from the 'good Capitalist's', aren't you supporting and enabling them?

      I could blather on, but it is too nice a day. I intend to enjoy it flying a kite.

      Danny

      Delete
    2. Like the Deep Water Gulf of Mexico disaster or the Massey Coal Mine collapses, we have seen repeatedly the failure of corporate owners to ensure all safety and precautions are taken - best practices used are less important than the need to maximize profit. Human life is reduced to a price tag and cost/benefits are analyzed into the corporate profit/loss sheet. This is sociopathic behavior and just as egregious as the actions of these men.

      Delete
    3. Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico had a blow out preventer. What I wanted to know and still want to know is what the manager on the phone meant when he was on the phone and we inferred that "they" had done some sort of penny pinching that resulted in unsafe conditions.

      Delete
    4. Lady-Cracker, the Deep Water Horizon disaster was caused by failed concrete, which was a known problem hidden by one of the contractors, Halliburton. Again, corporate profits were put above the environment and human life. This is sociopathic behavior, but not punished appropriately because it involves a corporation. See https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&ved=0CE8QFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2010%2F10%2F29%2Fus%2F29spill.html&ei=pfxzUYHICMTE0AHM44CgAQ&usg=AFQjCNGSqI-qRgDuG8Z1rqfCihuIL7U3Ag&sig2=p2jJWRlaE5cBFsBIYC5Bvw&bvm=bv.45512109,d.dmQ

      Delete
    5. There is still a huge difference in the mindset of the people involved. I am not condoning the actions that led to the Deep Water spill, or the Massey Coal Mine. My example of this type of callous indifference is Bhopal, India. Penalties, both financial and criminal should be stiffened and enforced, to provide provide the negative feedback necessary to change the corporate behavior.
      As long as the primary legal duty of the Board of Directors is to return maximum return on the stockholders investment, the spreadsheets will be run. Either change the optimization goals, or change the limits, penalties, and costs that are the inputs to the spreadsheets.

      The mindset of the bombers in Boston, and the corporate mindset are still completely different. The bombers in Boston had only one purpose, to kill and main people. That is a fundamental difference, and to lump the two mindsets and arguments together only serves to obscure the different problems that may be the root cause of each, leading to less than optimal debate and solutions to the two different problems.

      Danny

      Delete
  38. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did have friends, see here, for instance. Tamerlan was the obviously alienated one.

    The Tsarnaev brothers were the refugee children of refugees from generations of conflict; probably deeply traumatized in childhood. Children raised in such conditions are at risk of becoming violent and incapable of trust and gratitude. This is not a matter of rational choice of an ideology but deep and irrational fear, a fear which can also be heard in the statements of their father and sister.

    In this light, I reflect on the children of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with some horror.

    Taranto is a poor choice to cite here, except as a bad example. This is someone who may be as psychologically disordered as the Tsarnaev brothers. He is so misogynistic and has so little empathy that, after the Aurora shootings, he tweeted "I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice." (Tweet preserved at http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/07/25/asshole-of-the-century/.)

    I—I don't know if your call for reason can be heard by the people we most need to hear it. As in the Tsarnaev family, the fear, hatred, ignorance, hatred, and violence loose in the USA have been nurtured for a generation. I find some hope in the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rather than his summary execution. Perhaps, after a decade, sanity is breaking out. But I only hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a footnote to this, Taranto has personally attacked Gabby Giffords, saying, "So we are supposed to believe that somehow in less than five hours a woman who has severe impairments of her motor and speech functions was able to produce 900 publishable words and put in an appearance in the White House in the course of it. So I think that's a little bit odd."

      This man is toxic.

      Delete
  39. Though I don't agree with capitol punishment, well said, Jim. Well said.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I will get slammed for this, but here goes:
    What if big brother told little brother "here, this will make tons of smoke and a loud noise and scare everyone, hahaha". Is there ANY evidence little brother knew there was an actual people killing bomb in that bag? I get that the older one was extreme, but from everyone I have heard speaking of the younger one, he had friends, he got along with people, know one saw this coming. So, he worships big brother, and big brother says, "Lets play a joke on everybody, it's be funny as hell". It would have seemed like nothing more than a prank.
    But, he had guns and his brother had bombs strapped to him, etc etc etc. Okay, the first bombs go off, the kid is terrified, what to do what to do? Big brother now has him, the kid has no idea whats going on, has to get away, has to hide, and on and on.
    I am NOT saying this is how it went down. I AM saying that we don't know crap just yet about this young mans motivations, what drove him to do what he did. Wishing someone dead because you THINK you know what they have done is a bit of extremism too.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, there are videos and high res photos showing little brother walking calmly away from the two explosions....

      I you were right, that he was stupid enough to believe he was just pulling a prank on the Marathon crowd, but if he did believe that, I'd expect a more horrified expression on his face and a few moments of paralysis, standing in place, while body parts went flying and while the people around him were running away in panic.

      Delete
    2. Correction in 2nd paragraph: "I wish you were right..."

      Delete
    3. Not only did the younger man walk away calmly, he also partied with his college friends following the bombing. That is COLD.

      Delete
    4. Ah, I had missed those pieces of information. If what you say is true, then my supposition is wrong. I tried.

      Delete
    5. Pamela Lee, that's one of the things that doesn't make any sense to me about this. By all accounts, the younger brother was popular, a stoner, liked to party, was a "No stress guy" and was anything but the extremist muslim they're trying to paint him as.

      And for him to go and party all night after the bombing, knowing that the whole world was looking for him....something just stinks about this.

      Delete
    6. I am afraid that the explanation will be not much more than 2 men wanting to wreck havoc and mayhem on a community as a means to become famous.

      The picture presented by the friends of the younger brother seem totally at odds with a muslem radical.

      Even the older brother married an American and had a daughter.

      Delete
  41. Sometimes I suspect that "I did it because..." is more an excuse than a reason.

    Want to blow something up? Want to play out your Rambo fantasies? Want to stomp the crap out of somebody ... anybody ... everybody? Maybe that's where it begins sometimes, and the "justifications" come later.

    ReplyDelete
  42. These two were pawns. The older a pawn of some group run by bitter old men who do not like how their lives turned out and want to blame it on someone else and the younger a pawn of his obedience to family honor to support his older brother.

    Why did they not have an exit strategy? Because there was no need for them to escape. There use was finished.

    ReplyDelete
  43. For someone who posted on Facebook that he didn't have any American friends..... Did he forget his born and raised American wife?.

    I once supported capital punishment, but I came to realize that the death penalty does not prevent murders nor does it bring back the victims. The costs to taxpayers for a death penalty case will be millions. It will be cheaper and easier on the families to send him to Denver for the rest of his life, even if he lives to be 80.

    I won't be surprised it we never get the answers we want.

    ReplyDelete
  44. So, I posted about this atrocity, albeit briefly, on my Facebook page the day that it occurred so that makes me just as culpable as anyone else. That said, it makes me wonder if tragedies such as these were simply ignored by everyone, that is, not given a bit of coverage anywhere with media, blogs, internet, newsprint etc. would it, could it reduce the number of future tragedies? Is there an ethical obligation to report and educate the public of things of this nature? Something to chew on--I certainly see both sides to this.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Straight talking article. Well written, and insightful. I have a slightly different take on the death penalty in general, but won't go into that at this time; let's just say I'm neutral about it. And though I'm a born in the U.S. citizen, I have been living overseas for over 25 years. Not from Boston, but have visited a number of times, and have friends there. For those who have the blood-lust, I think execution is not the best way to satisfy it: I think a better way would be to shoot his legs up to pieces; let him stay in pain for a while (while stopping the bleeding/shock etc from killing him). Amputate both legs at the knee; no prostheses, and THEN put him in jail for life. Living with the pain, fear, mutilation & resultant disability in a nasty high-security prison (probably in isolation because he'd be too much at risk for a shanking) might be a better punishment, and possibly more of a deterrent (tho' unfortunately, I doubt it)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And somehow, after describing your desire to enact that act of horror, you actually think you're somehow BETTER than they are?

      Disgusting.

      Delete
    2. Jeff, I totally I agree. Retribution begets retribution. A good question, which I have a hard time answering, is how is justice achieved while simultaneously achieving reconciliation and restoration?

      Delete
    3. How is Justice (She's always capitalized to me) achieved? By sticking to your values, your morals and your laws. Not by throwing them away at the first sign of anger, or difficulty.

      Delete
    4. I think a better way would be to shoot his legs up to pieces ...

      Heh. "For those with the blood lust" indeed. Those without would have a hard time writing that.

      I get the feeling you've read RAH's The Number of the Beast. Was it "Earth-without-a-'J'" where "the punishment fit the crime", or one of the others...

      Delete
  46. Very true - jarringly true, in fact. What you've written here, and what Charlie Pierce said latest over in Esquire, along with the weapon of choice being bombs instead of guns, made me realize what the difference between our current, seemingly intractable violence issues in the U.S. and those we - and most other primates with the occasional flawed seed - have had previously.

    Backers.

    Money promotes and subsidizes hysterical, violent rhetoric - the constant barrage that defames and delegitimizes government. Government is the primary obstacle blocking deregulation of business and privatization of public funds and programs, not to mention it getting all self-righteous and trying to nip into the lucrative firearms industry, much less the rumors that someone might actually be held responsible for some sort of mortgage industry thing...

    I doubt it's direct or calculated; it's just something that's grown. And that's just the first edge; the widespread effect includes less wealth for the majority of the public, less options, more frustration, a distrust of the government, near-constant social hysteria, repeated and reinforced violent imagery delivered by aggressive, irresponsible blather, and dysfunctional-at-best social services (mental health care in particular among the social 'safety nets') too gutted to help anyone.

    People buy into this, after being bludgeoned long enough by it. Some simply scream obscenities about Benghazi at pigeons, some get a pork chop pompadour and go on Fox News, but others? Others act out the violence they keep hearing.

    Congressional obstruction, "Takers vs. Makers", the vicious and inflexible all across the board - I didn't really quite understand that it was all part of the same damning and destructive cancer. I mean, yeah, it's been said before, there's correlation studies and so forth, but I didn't really see the big picture.

    Your post about Fear, recently - that's right on the mark, too.

    Anyway, apologies for the long ramble - just realized that we're doing this to ourselves. That we, for love of profit, have embraced the dysfunction that terrorism seeks to cause, and the bombers and shooters and killers we've seen are just the first few students to graduate.

    Well. At least that's one thing we don't have to import anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I for one am glad that Dzokhar Tsarnaev was taken alive, and I hope that he is able to recover from his injuries and speak to the authorities who interview him. My feeling is that there are useful things to be learned from him; things that could be used to help identify people in danger of becoming terrorists and stop them before they are able to drop an improvised explosive device in a crowd of people. What was the chain of events that lead this scholarship winning athlete to become an accomplice in this atrocity? What was it that enabled him to run over his older brother while fleeing from the police? A major issue to me, is the knee-jerk response to characterize people who resort to extreme violence (terrorists, serial killers) as unknowable monsters. That's simply not true, and what that does is absolve us from the responsibility to understand the chain of decisions they made up to the commission of their atrocity. It also absolves us of the responsibility to alleviate the conditions that encourage people to become radicalized in the first place. If you can understand the motivation, you can defuse the human bomb. I highly recommend reading Gavin de Becker's "The Gift of Fear" it's illuminating about the ways in which the violent become violent, and the ways in which our constant drumbeat of panic/fear on the news is actively counterproductive to being safe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most real or alleged terrorists are not unknowable monsters - one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter or drone operator - but those whose real motives are more akin to that of a typical serial killer may be. There's arguably a fundamental difference between people who have some degree of conscience and ability to relate to other humans as something other than tools or victims, and those who don't. Normal people, who would be repelled by the idea of killing or torturing strangers selected at random, usually find it almost impossible to understand the mindset of people who find that a pleasant thought. Assuming that the problem with such people (if and only if they come from specific groups) is that they have been "radicalized" may not only lead to persecution of both real freedom fighters and ordinary religious people, but distract attention from the fact that they are damaged in a much more fundamental and dangerous way.
      Dewey

      Delete
  48. When has a terrorist act that sought to bring world attention to a perceived injustice or persecution of a specific ethnic group of people ever motivated world opinion to do something other than crush the terrorists?


    ReplyDelete
  49. I guessed they'd be radical conservatives, and I was right. Of course, I thought they'd be anti-tax rednecks, since it was April 15th, but hell, one out of two ain't bad.

    ReplyDelete
  50. OK City - male - age 26
    Columbine - males - ages 17, 18
    9/11 - males - ages 16@20-26; 28, 29, 33
    Aurora - male - age 24
    Tucson - male - age 22
    Newtown - male - age 20
    Boston - males - ages 19, 26

    What we can cull from this data?
    Maybe we should take better care of our youth; their brains aren’t fully developed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or else mass castration. Every try to keep a tomcat in the house? Dogs settle down pretty much, too. Also horses. Also bulls.

      Delete
    2. Neat idea. Kill two birds with one stone. Castrate every young guy with any "abnormal" tendencies, (that's most of them) and Voila! we have solved the overpopulation problem, too. Genius.

      Jeanne in WV

      Delete
    3. And the few we keep intact for breeding will be too busy (and too happy) to cause much trouble.

      Delete
    4. u so easy, winky cull + t
      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/26/1205091/-The-continuing-deep-thoughts-of-Sarah-Palin

      Delete
  51. Jim, any way this thing can be jiggered to accept Disqus profiles? Not that I love Disqus or anything. (I normally spell it subst Q for S. gotta be careful on a fambly blog...;) ). But that way you get my neato avatar du jour...

    ReplyDelete
  52. I wouldn't say I had a preference, but it seemed obvious it wasn't AQ, since they don't seem to care much for anniversaries important to anyone but themselves. It seemed more likely, being Tax Day, Patriot Day, and the anniversary week of OK City, that it was a McVeigh fellow traveler.
    Well, looks like I got played. If they get Dzhokhar talking, I'd bet money, had I any, that they were trying to throw suspicion toward the American political far Right. Not a very "Islamoterrorist" thing to do. hell, they're proud of what they do. I think that's backed up a bit by the fact that they ran and hid, instead of blowing their own asses to Glory (with 72 virgins!). Also very un-terrorist. Dzhokhar wanted to get away badly enough, as Charles Pierce noted, to run over his own damn brother.
    So, crazy, yeah, probably, but also a bit of "...as a fox" in there, too.
    Am I disappointed it wasn't a wingnut? Kind of a wash there. Yeah, I'd love to see 'em get another well-deserved black eye, but at the same time, I'm happier--if that's the word--with an "unaffiliated" whackjob terrorist wannabe than I am with an organization, domestic or imported.
    And I'm really happy Obama resisted the urge to make this nutcase an enemy combatant, even if he only did it to mess with the wingnuts' heads. And hey, who knows? Maybe he did...

    ReplyDelete
  53. Obama showed some real backbone, some real grace under pressure, not jumping into the hysteria and (utterly needlessly and pointlessly) declaring the kid an enemy combatant. Score one for sanity and grown-ups there.

    ReplyDelete
  54. It sure is a big ol' crazy word, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  55. I'm not sure why suddenly some people seem determined to defend the younger brother by saying he was only following the lead of his dominant/adored/loyal to/etc older brother. This would be the brother he ran away and left injured in the street? If his survival instinct overrode this family connection that made him murder people, how come his decency or ethics didn't override his acquiescence to his brothers' plotting? Anyhow, I think it's more awful to think that he participated just because he was told to instead of because he actually believed. " I was only following orders" is not a defense for atrocities. It didn't fly in Nuremberg and it doesn't fly now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe older bro was a bit thick and younger bro had him twisted around his fingers....

      Point is WE DON'T KNOW. But if we are patient, and wait, and keep shtum, then maybe, just maybe, we will find out....

      Delete
  56. He didn't just run away and leave his brother in the street, he drove the car over his brother in an effort to get away. That is cruel!!!

    While the older brother may have been making a political statement, they were also into the thrill of creating a panic and overwhelming media coverage.

    When will people learn that blowing up planes, subways or marathons does not change public opinion or support - unless you consider being hunted down and possibly put out of your misery - is affecting public opinions.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I started my workday on the day the bombers were identified by trying to explain to a colleague the difference between Russians, Chechens, and Czechs. I didn't succeed; my colleague insisted that they were interchangeable, or all the same.

    No, they're not. I'm ethnically half-Russian; I should know (the other half is Polish).

    Over lunch, I saw the interview with their uncle Ruslan. It was hard for me to watch, because he reminded me so much of members of my own family. When he spoke about the nephews having brought shame to his family and his ethnicity, I understood exactly what he meant; I was raised that way, too, and that man could have been my uncle. If it wouldn't have been a not-great thing to do at work, I might have wept.

    Then I read some comments from people who thought his anger "didn't look good on TV." The man was expressing genuine, honest, conflicted emotion, and yes, it's messy. And real. Is this what we have become, a people who gauges everything by what looks good on TV? By how phony we can be?

    I am of two minds on the surviving bomber. I have a dark side, too; a dark side that wants the guy dead and isn't ashamed of it - only, I'm female, so my dark side is viewed as even more unseemly by some in this culture. There's a part of me that could pull the trigger or flip the switch or give the needle myself.

    But there's also a part of me that is civilized, or tries to be - who says, "Try him, and let him live out the rest of his days alone, surrounded only by concrete and pictures of the people he harmed. The dead, the wounded, and their families." Above all, I do believe in the rule of law (having been a practitioner at one time).

    Thank you for the honesty of your writing. There's no way to make a fluffy kitten out of a murderous Chechen, or out of my own dark side. Being a fallible human being, the best I can do is the best any of us can do - to try to walk in the light, but to understand that the dark is there in all of us, and that sometimes, it will demand to be heard. How we respond to it is what makes us a human or a monster.

    Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I have a quote from the Late, Great Hunter Thompson on my fridge. This post makes me feel like sharing it here. It is this:

    "Never turn your back on fear. It should be kept in front of you at all times. Like an animal that might have to be killed."

    It's a big, beautiful and terrible forest we live in. Full of all manner of creatures.
    Thanks for posting the notes on your watch.

    Dee

    ReplyDelete

Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.