Without much time to write in depth on various matters that interest me in relation to the recent Boston Marathon bombings, I am summarizing my thoughts here, many of which were previously expressed in 140 characters or less:
America is a Uniquely Violent Society
The Tsarnaev brothers’ violent rampage last week not only had a terrible human toll, it also revived the tough guys’ “the sky is falling” narrative. And the tough guys always react in the same way: they demand we be very scared, especially about foreign jihadists in our midst. We need to immediately stop immigration reform, suspend Miranda rights, and probably even impose a moratorium on all cookware.
Once the boys were identified and the press was drawing the Chechnya connection, I kept thinking that these brothers had finally become uniquely American, though something was missing. Come on, what is more American than a psychologically deranged person – disgruntled for any number of reasons – lashing out at innocent bystanders, resulting in a blood bath?
The only thing that kept the Tsarnaevs from earning true citizenship was that they hadn’t gone on a shooting spree (at least not until confronted by the police). And that was the good news for Massachusetts because had they used the Red, White and Blue weapon of choice, we would have seen death tolls in the high double digits, as we saw in Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine.
But Massachusetts wasn’t the only one to benefit from the fact that these boys were not American enough to inflict real carnage. The NRA also must have let out a huge sigh of relief. Everyone was so focused on their makeshift bombs, that no one was asking how they got their hands on a sizable stockpile of guns. Moreover, we were able to focus on Islam as being inherently violent and not on how guns and the violence they cause are are unique to American society.
As I wrote after the Sandy Hook shootings, where 20 children and 6 adults were slaughtered by a deranged gun owner,
So, for example, when a crazy Muslim American shoots up an American military base – something oh so uniquely American – we immediately call it terrorism and blame Islam. But if that American man had not been Muslim, as in the other 61 mass shootings during the last 30 years (seven this year alone), we’d all be talking about mental illness, how we’d be safer if everyone were armed, and generally treating the senseless murders as an unavoidable natural disaster that lasts a two day news cycle.
Consider that we have since learned that the Tsarnaevs did not receive any help from foreign terrorist organizations. They were, like in the case of Columbine, nothing more than very disturbed young men, intent on inflicting harm and getting attention; what Juan Cole has called “a tale of adolescent rebellion“. Continue reading