Saturday, April 20, 2013

Who Are They, Part 2,741

Juan Cole has the best piece I've seen on the very important question of just who are the two young men who bombed the Boston Marathon last Monday, and then held the attention of the United States public for the rest of this week.

Certainly there is speculation in Juan's piece, but it is far more grounded in logic and likelihood than 95% of what you might have heard on your television as the event was "covered" wall-to-wall from start to last night's cheering parade finish in Watertown, MA. One of the worst comments I've seen was from some Arkansas representative, who tossed the idea into the hopper that if more citizens had "Bushmasters," things would have been over with cheaper and quicker. That's all Boston needed, more bullets flying. More than one civilian had bullets going through the walls of his house as it was. The great good fortune at the end of this horror is that one brother is captured, alive. Hopefully he will not meet some zealot's revenge in prison. "We" need to talk to him, for a long time. Whatever his ultimate fate in the legal system, he should eventually be tried for murders. Four innocent people were killed, and he was one of the killers. But he is also 19, and "we" need to gain significant further comprehension of just what ideas were driving his actions.

There was a comment somewhere during the week that the boys has "contracted" the "radical Islam virus." This metaphor is balderdash and we do not need to think about such events and people this way. Indeed, if we look at radicalized people as though they have some "disease," we are more likely to simply kill them--as we are in fact doing in official drone policy. But this is all magic and fantasy. People do things for reasons, unless they are clearly mentally ill. These two young men had reasons. The very important question is, why did they do this.

This is not to say that there isn't "psychology" driving their actions. This is, essentially, what Mr. Cole speculates in the post cited above. Charlie Pierce says that to him this looks more like Colombine than 9/11. That is another way of saying the same thing.

We are, one might almost say, "blessed" to have captured the younger boy alive. More than anything else, we need to know who he is, and what he thought he was doing. It would be really great if various partisans stopped politicizing this whole tragedy, as it continues to unfold. It's not about immigration policy, as many right-wingers have fulminated. It's not about gun legislation. It's not about Radical Islam.

The right wing has successfully created a working fiction--that everything is political to the core, and that there is no pool of shared reality which we can all more or less share in our understanding of. This fiction is a great help in their ongoing efforts to destroy bedrock America. It has stalled efforts to deal in any way with human assisted climate change. It has created a political situation in which absolutely no legislative solution of the obvious problem of firearms proliferation in the United States can be achieved. Indeed, it is now easier to pass local ordinances in which all citizens are actually ordered to bear arms, than to make even modest alterations in the design of magazines or ammunition. (My guess is, soon there will be suits about restrictions on lead shot, since some hunters believe steel shot isn't as effective--why should their "rights" be abridged just because lead shot is poisoning waters where it lands?)

Fox News is the working mechanism which maintains the fiction that all is political, although their approach has become so ubiquitous that it now poisons a great deal of American journalism generally. We are never going to be able to accomplish much in the way of democratic solutions to real problems as long as Fox News offers it's daily ration of "on the other hand." In this sense, the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brings with it some actual reality, if we can just keep to the facts and avoid leaping to all the stereotypical conclusions being proffered wholesale by politicians and other practitioners of "truthiness."

Losing our perception of reality got us into two wars (at least, and counting). At Mr. Pierce's stand, a guest columnist offers another dose of practical reality:

In the meantime it's Saturday again. Here in central NC a big row of intense storms blew through last night about 7 pm, bringing a dead limb down on the roof just above where I write. After a few hours of rain, we developed a drip just on the other side of the kitchen table. Apparently the metal roof has been holed. Looks like a busy Saturday.

As Bob Dylan said, "the bricks seem so well timed."

1 comment:

  1. thank you for this. and yes, exactly as you said: "we need to know who he is, and what he thought he was doing."

    he is a killer. and yet....he's only 19. i keep thinking about him lying in that stupid boat for 20 hours, bleeding nearly to death, surely filled with panic and fear and regret. such idiots!!! but yes, i also want to know why. and who. and for god's sake, why.