The Brothers Tsarnaev as Damaged Goods
Honestly, even on Fox & Friends Weekend on Saturday morning, Alisyn Camerota and Brian Kilmeade referred to the Brothers Tsarnaev as "boys." Boys? The dead Tsarnaev was 26-years-old. The captured Tsarnaev is 19-years-old. One was a man, the other a younger man, if a distinction is needed. Both were cold-blooded killers - that would be murderers of women, a boy (a real boy: eight-year-old Martin Richard), and a MIT law enforcement officer (an MBTA Transit Police officer was serious wounded).
The Brothers Tsarnaev's bombs maimed scores of others, including Martin Richard's sister, whose leg was sheared off, and mother, who suffered traumatic brain injury. The carnage was sickening enough that TV networks refuse to show it due to its graphic nature, though we can see all sorts of blood and gore on a show like AMC's the Walking Dead. Why not show the real thing? Why not let Americans see the full, horrible impact of terrorism - Islamic terrorism, for that matter? Shouldn't the American people appreciate what the nation is up against?
Not only won't the network news shows run the video and photos of the death and destruction loosed by the Brothers Tsarnaev's Marathon bombings, they're now delving into the psyches of the brothers. Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and regular Fox News contributor, had a segment on Fox & Friends Weekend - again on Saturday - discussing what could possibly have motivated the Brothers Tsarnaev to engage in terrorism.
Ablow is a decidedly non-PC psychiatrist, and his armchair analysis of the brothers may be correct, as far as it goes, but whatever personal motivations and life experience led the brothers to terrorism really is immaterial. It's like asking what led Hitler to concoct National Socialism and to his murderous hatred of the Jews. Or what made Stalin, Stalin. Or caused Pol Pot to devise the Killing Fields.
One gets the curiosity and fascination with what makes these evil men tick, but does all this delving into the minds and emotions of the Brothers Tsarnaev (and other notorious mass murders, the worst of whom led causes, nations, and armies) presuppose that if these men are figured out they can be stopped? Or successful interventions can be made with "boys" who fit the profiles of future mass killers and terrorists?
Hitler wasn't the first boy beaten by his father. Not every abused boy becomes a terrorist and killer. There's such a thing as free will and choice. It's something of a conceit to think that understanding what personally motivates these men to terrorize and kill can lead to broad prevention.
Terrorism isn't a mental illness, but we live in a society that wants to make every evil committed the result of mental or emotional disturbance. Novel as it seems these days, there's such a thing as evil; that is, human beings knowingly and willfully committing acts that are injurious to others but do so because it advances their interests and aims, be those bank heists or religious and/or ideological causes. Mao may have been screwed up, but he was a committed communist, who intended to fashion China as he saw fit, and in the process, he was willing to murder millions of Chinese, and did so.
The Brothers Tsarnaev are Muslims, manifestly committed to jihad. Are we to dismiss fanatical religious conviction as motivation for the Marathon bombings? To do so is to grossly miscalculate, and among too many, consciously. To ignore the brothers' Muslim fanaticism misses a critical point at the nation's peril: Whatever personally led these men to jihad matters less than their participation in a religious-ideological cause that is dedicated to destroying America and Western culture. The brothers were agents of that bigger cause, even informally (remember, Al Qaida calls its on-line magazine Inspire for a reason - not "Order" or "Dictate," but "Inspire").
Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the Blind Sheik, writes at National Review Online:
Willful blindness remains the order of the day, as it has since the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. It is freely conceded that, when the identities and thus the motivation of the Marathon terrorists were not known, it would have been irresponsible to dismiss any radical ideology as, potentially, the instigator. But in our politically correct, up-is-down culture, to suggest "Outlook: Islam" was unthinkable. So the most likely scenario - namely, that jihadists who have been at war with us for two decades had, yet again, attacked innocent civilians - became the least likely scenario in the minds of media pundits. Instead, they brazenly prayed (to Gaia, I'm sure) for white conservative culprits with Tea Party hats and Rush 24/7 subscriptions. As our Kevin D. Williamson quipped, the "literal Caucasians" they got were not quite what they had in mind.
One can add to McCarthy's analysis American society's fixation with life experiences and mental and emotional illness as primary - indeed, nearly exclusive - causes for the acts of terrorism.
The Brothers Tsarnaev are evil men. They made choices that led to an act of terror and to the deaths and maiming of scores of innocent men, women, and children. They were committed to a faith - Islam - which is aggressive and violent, as borne out by its history, and today has militant adherents who are waging war against the United States and what the nation represents.
Boys - pishaw! The Brothers Tsarnaev were soldiers in a religious-ideological cause; killers and terrorists who damn well knew what they were doing and why.