Tag Archives: Boston Marathon bombing

This isn’t Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, either

Updated below

TK

No one photograph captures the totality of any one human being. Fucking duh.

A Massachusetts state cop has, apparently without authorization, released images that he took of the capture of the accused Boston Marathon bombing participant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in order to make a political point while blasting Rolling Stone for allegedly having tried to make a political point. (The image above is the image that has gone the most viral.)

“As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image [of Tsarnaev] that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty,” Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy huffed and puffed when he gave the images to Boston Magazine, continuing, “The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

I get it that Murphy has a personal and political interest in protecting the authoritarian, law-and-order, “good”-guys-vs.-“bad”-guys, violence-loving, white-male patriarchy of which he is part and parcel, but it was unprofessional (and, hell, for all that I know, also illegal) for Murphy, on his own, to release the images to the media out of his own personal and political passions, and BBC News reports that Murphy apparently has been relieved of duty for having released the images without authorization.

Good!

Murphy is allowed his wingnutty opinions, but, when it comes to whether or not D. Tsarnaev’s attorneys can argue whether or not he can get a fair trial, a fucking Rolling Stone cover probably won’t factor into that argument, but a state cop’s having released photos of Tsarnaev and having called Tsarnaev “evil” and “the real Boston bomber” certainly could. So Murphy’s actions seem to me to be reckless at best, especially if he is interested in actual justice, as he apparently claims he is.

Yes, in his right-wing rant that the apparently right-wing Boston Magazine published, the leaker Murphy also proclaimed: “Photography is very simple, it’s very basic. It brings us back to the cave. An image like this on the cover of Rolling Stone, we [who, exactly, is “we”?] see it instantly as being wrong. What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

While I agree that “photography is very simple,” that is the fucking problem. Murphy, apparently without any self-awareness of this, is guilty of the flip side of what he accuses Rolling Stone of having done.

I agree that one emo-looking image of D. Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone certainly doesn’t tell the whole story about the young man, but neither does one image (or even several images) of a sniper’s red-laser dot on Tsarnaev’s forehead tell the whole story about him.

Each of us is a complex human being who cannot be summed up in one fucking photograph.

And neither can even someone like D. Tsarnaev tidily and neatly be summed up in the single word “evil,” as Murphy so helpfully has done for us, and, of course, the difference between people like Murphy — authoritarian, self-righteous, patriarchy-promoting-and-protecting, hypocritically-violent-themselves types — and the rest of us is that while Murphy would deny that he contains any evil within himself at all, the rest of us acknowledge that we do.

And it’s those who deny that they have any evil within themselves at all who, in my book, are the most dangerous of all, which is perhaps why our plutocratic overlords love to have these sociopathic types in the U.S. military and in U.S. law enforcement (and, let’s face it, most of the time “our” laws apply only to us commoners, and not to our plutocratic overlords).

Update: Via Slate.com, this is a clarification of what has happened with Sgt. Sean Murphy:

Though he’s been relieved of duty, Murphy has not been fired. The status of his duty is to be reviewed next week. Two lieutenants in an unmarked cruiser and a sergeant in a marked cruiser arrived at Murphy’s home about 7:40 [last night] and, during about 20 minutes at his home, took the following: his gun, badge, ammunition, handcuffs, baton, bulletproof vest, cameras, police ID, license to fire arms, pepper spray, cellphone and computer. Murphy was also ordered not to speak to the press or discuss the capture of Tsarnaev with anyone else.

My guess is that he’ll get a slap on the wrist. At the bare minimum, in my book, he no longer should be allowed to photograph police activity.

Also, the Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote a good piece defending Rolling Stone. Sure, you might say, of course he’s going to defend his employer, but nonetheless, he makes some good points, such as these:

… I think, on the whole, the people leveling these criticisms must not read the magazine, which is understandable. It would be beyond unreasonable to expect everyone in the country to be regularly familiar with the articles in Rolling Stone. On the other hand, pretty much everyone has heard of Rolling Stone, which is where the problem lay, in this gap between the popular image of the magazine and the reality of its reporting.

If indeed we were just a celebrity/gossip mag that covered nothing but rock stars and pop-culture icons, and we decided to boost sales and dabble in hard news by way of putting a Jim Morrison-esque depiction of a mass murderer on our cover, that really would suck and we would deserve all of this criticism.

But Rolling Stone has actually been in the hard news/investigative reporting business since its inception, from Hunter S. Thompson to Carl Bernstein to Bill Greider back in the day to Tim Dickinson, Michael Hastings, Mark Boal, Janet Reitman and myself in recent years.

One could even go so far as to say that in recent years, when investigative journalism has been so dramatically de-emphasized at the major newspapers and at the big television news networks, Rolling Stone’s role as a source of hard-news reporting has been  magnified. In other words, we’re more than ever a hard news outlet in a business where long-form reporting is becoming more scarce. …

If the Rolling Stone editors had brought Tsarnaev in to its offices near Rockefeller center, wined and dined him, and then posed him for that Jim Morrison shot, then yes, that would be reprehensible.

But that’s not what the magazine did. They used an existing photo, one already used by other organizations. The New York Times, in fact, used exactly the same photo on the cover of their May 5 issue.

But there was no backlash against the Times, because everyone knows the Times is a news organization. Not everyone knows that about Rolling Stone. So that’s your entire controversy right there – it’s OK for the Times, not OK for Rolling Stone, because many people out there understandably do not know that Rolling Stone is also a hard-news publication. …

[Regarding] the idea that the cover photo showed Tsarnaev to be too nice-looking, too much like a sweet  little boy[,] I  can understand why this might upset some  people. But the jarringly non-threatening image of Tsarnaev is exactly the point of the whole story. If any of those who are up in arms about this cover had read Janet’s piece, they would see that the lesson of this story is that there are no warning signs for terrorism, that even nice, polite, sweet-looking young kids can end up packing pressure-cookers full of shrapnel and tossing them into crowds of strangers.

Thus the cover picture is not intended to glamorize Tsarnaev. Just the opposite, I believe it’s supposed to frighten. …

I recommend Taibbi’s piece in its entirety.

It was clear to me immediately that Rolling Stone had repurposed an existing image of Tsarnaev for its cover. I have to wonder if Sean Murphy is so stupid as to not have realized that, or if he realized that but intentionally wanted to mislead others in his personal crusade against Rolling Stone, which his own words — his description of the image of Tsarnaev that RS used as “someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine” — suggest.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rolling Stone hasn’t glorified Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev boston bomber

Rolling Stone magazine is accused of having glorified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bombing participant, by having featured a flattering image of him on the cover of an upcoming issue, but the accusation is bullshit.

Admittedly, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the image on the Rolling Stone cover is fairly attractive — he reminds me at least a little bit of the yumlickcious young actor Aaron Johnson:

— and my guess is that Tsarnaev was doing his best to be sexy and alluring in the photo (I’ve seen him look significantly less flattering in other photos), but the words that appear right under Tsarnaev’s mug on the Rolling Stone cover — “How a Popular, Promising Student … Became a Monster” — kind of indicates that Rolling Stone isn’t glorifying him, doesn’t it?

And what the fuck should Rolling Stone have done? Found the most unflattering photo of Tsarnaev that they could have found and then Photoshopped horns onto his head?

Anyway, so much has the unwarranted criticism been that on its online posting of the cover story about Tsarnaev, Rolling Stone added this editors’ blurb:

Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. –THE EDITORS

It’s too bad that the editors had to feel the need to do that.

Anyway, it’s a long story on Tsarnaev, and while early on it does describe Tsarsaev as “a beautiful, tousle-haired boy” with “soulful brown eyes,” it strikes me as a serious, thoughtful piece on Tsarnaev and the Boston Marathon bombing, not as some fangirl’s (or fanboy’s…) fawning, effusive screed. (Not to be sexist, I hope, but the author of the piece is a female, and so it’s not shocking to me that she took a softer, more human tone, instead of an authoritarian, law-and-order tone.)

Those who bash Rolling Stone should (1) look at what Rolling Stone actually published, in its entirety, and (2) get the fuck over themselves.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Was the London murder a murder or a ‘terrorist attack’?

Updated below

Michael Adebolajo: Murderer or “terrorist”? Is he a “terrorist” because he’s Muslim? And of Nigerian descent?

First off, let me be clear: I am not at all OK with the grisly murder of 25-year-old British soldier and Afghan war veteran Lee Rigby just outside of his barracks in London yesterday. And I reject the idea of killing one person in retaliation for killings that other people committed. In my book, revenge, if it is going to be exacted, should be exact, not approximate.

One of Lee Rigby’s two very apparent murderers, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo of London, “a British-born convert to radical Islam,” according to Reuters, notoriously calmly explained to someone with a video camera — while he still held a knife and a meat cleaver in his bloodied hands (see the video still above) — why he and his companion, also of Nigerian descent, according to Reuters, attacked and killed Rigby, whom they reportedly first ran down in a car and then started hacking with a meat cleaver and knives: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

In Greenwich Village this past weekend, 32-year-old gay man Mark Carson was shot to death in an apparent hate crime; reportedly, Carson’s accused murderer, Elliot Morales, 33, who was apprehended by police, had used anti-gay hate speech before he shot Carson to death.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said of the murder: “It’s clear that victim here was killed only because, and just because, he was thought to be gay. There’s no question about that. There were derogatory remarks. This victim did nothing to antagonize or instigate the shooter. It was only because the shooter believed him to be gay.”

Reuters reports that many posit that recent advances in same-sex marriage rights in the U.S. — including three states having gone for same-sex marriage earlier this month — might have been behind the murder of Carson.

Yet the murder of Carson is called a “murder” and the murder of Rigby is called, automatically, a “terrorist attack” or “act of terrorism.”

What’s the difference between an act of murder and an act of terrorism/“terrorism”?

The murder of Carson, I surmise, was meant to send this message to all gay men or even to all non-heterosexuals and non-gender-conforming individuals: You are not safe walking the streets. You might be the next one to be shot (or stabbed or beaten up or whatever).

That’s not a form of terrorism — an act of violence (a murder, no less) apparently committed with the intent to strike fear within a whole class of people?

Michael Adebolajo very apparently was using Lee Rigby as an example — he killed him in effigy of all British soldiers, in effect — just as Elliot Morales very apparently was using Mark Carson as an example — he killed him in effigy of all gay men, in effect.

So if Adebolajo and his cohort are “terrorists,” why isn’t Morales a “terrorist”?

My answer to my own question is that when a member of a historically oppressed minority group (like gay men) is murdered, it’s not considered to be a big deal. We can call it just a “murder,” as though it didn’t extend beyond just the murdered victim at all, but was just one of those random things — an act of God, Wolf Blitzer might say.

But when even one soldier is murdered — even on a public/civilian street, and while not on duty, which very apparently is how Rigby was murdered — that’s considered an attack on the plutocrats, the elites, of whom the commoner-funded military (Britain’s as well as the United States’) is just an arm.

The plutocrats, the elites, can’t maintain their overprivileged status without whole armies at their command, and the plutocratic elites are far, far more important than any of the rest of us ever could be, so the murder of just one of their soldiers — even in a non-combat situation — automatically is branded as “terrorism,” a more serious crime than plain-old murder.

I disagree that Rigby’s murder was an act of “terrorism.” Rigby’s murder was much closer to a murder than to an act of “terrorism.”

If we’re going to call Rigby’s murderers “terrorists” instead of just plain-old “murderers,” then we’re going to need to call Elliot Morales a terrorist, too — because his crime very apparently was motivated by his religious and political beliefs, just as Adebolajo’s and his partner’s crime was motivated by theirs.

The act-of-murder-vs.-act-of-terrorism problem largely can be solved if  the usage of the “t” terms — “terrorist,” “terrorists,” “terrorism” — returns to the terms’ status before 9/11. Cases of murder committed by an individual or two people apparently acting on their own and not as part of a known terrorist/“terrorist” group — such as the apparent case with the Boston Marathon bombings (I refer to the two Tsarnaev brothers, of course) and the apparent case with the British soldier who was murdered yesterday — are probably much closer to murder cases than they are to terrorism/“terrorism” cases.

We don’t refer to the two Columbine High School killers as “terrorists,” for example, even though they slaughtered many more people than did the Tsarnaev brothers or Michael Adebolajo.

That’s at least in part, of course, because the two Columbine killers were two white “Christian” kids, and you’re much more likely to be branded as a “terrorist” if you are Muslim — and even more so if you are a non-white Muslim.

That shit needs to stop. We can’t have a two-tiered system of “justice” in which it’s only “terrorism” if the (accused) perpetrator is Muslim or non-white or both. If we must go hog wild with the “terrorism” thing, then it must apply to so-called “Christians” and to other non-Muslims and to whites and to other non-blacks as well.

Update (Sunday, May 26, 2013): Columnist Glenn Greenwald, who once wrote for Salon.com but now works for The Guardian of the United Kingdom, on Thursday also tackled the question of “Was the London Killing of a British Soldier ‘Terrorism’?”

In his column, Greenwald notes that

An act can be vile, evil, and devoid of justification without being “terrorism”: indeed, most of the worst atrocities of the 20th Century, from the Holocaust to the wanton slaughter of Stalin and Pol Pot and the massive destruction of human life in Vietnam, are not typically described as “terrorism.”

Yup. Here, I think, is the money shot of Greenwald’s analysis:

The reason it’s so crucial to ask this question [of whether or not an act of violence constitutes “terrorism”] is that there are few terms — if there are any — that pack the political, cultural and emotional punch that “terrorism” provides. When it comes to the actions of western governments, it is a conversation-stopper, justifying virtually anything those governments want to do.

It’s a term that is used to start wars, engage in sustained military action, send people to prison for decades or life, to target suspects for due-process-free execution, shield government actions behind a wall of secrecy, and instantly shape public perceptions around the world.

It matters what the definition of the term is, or whether there is a consistent and coherent definition. It matters a great deal.

There is ample scholarship proving that the term has no such clear or consistently applied meaning. … It is very hard to escape the conclusion that, operationally, the term has no real definition at this point beyond “violence engaged in by Muslims in retaliation against Western violence toward Muslims.” …

Actually, it seems to me, in the Western world, especially in the U.S. and the UK, “terrorism” has come pretty much to mean just “violence engaged in by Muslims.” Even the acknowledgment that such violence might be “in retaliation against Western violence toward Muslims” usually never is made in Westerners’ discussions of “terrorism,” since that obviously would be to bring Westerners’ guilt into the discussion, and most Westerners, it seems to me, will have none of that.

Greenwald also notes that “earlier this month, an elderly British Muslim was stabbed to death in an apparent anti-Muslim hate crime and nobody called that ‘terrorism,'” and adds that the term “terrorism” “at this point seems to have no function other than propagandistically and legally legitimizing the violence of western states against Muslims while delegitimizing any and all violence done in return to those states.”

Yup.

There are news reports, such as this one, of actions perpetrated against Muslims in Britain by non-Muslims in “retaliation” for the slaughter of the British solider in London. This report (from Slate.com) states that “The incidents [so far have ranged] from name calling and abuse on social media, to the painting of graffiti, attacks against mosques, and pulling off women’s headscarves in the street.” (“Attacks against mosques” is so vague as to be almost meaningless. I wish that the writer had given us the details there, or if he didn’t have the details, to have stated that fact.)

Of course, such low-level, “harmless” terrorism is what the Jews in Nazi Germany experienced before the Nazis ratcheted things waaay up.

This leads to yet another question: Is an act in which someone is not injured or killed “terrorism”? Is it only “terrorism” if someone is injured or killed? These thugs pulling Muslim women’s headscarves off — that is not done with the intent of terrorizing these women?

Is such terrorizing OK if it’s considered in “retaliation” of, or just in reaction to, another incident? Would this be “counter-terrorism”? Or would this be something like just plain-old “justice,” since we non-Muslims never use the “t-” word to refer to any of our own actions?

Anyway, as I wrote in my first paragraph of this post, “In my book, revenge, if it is going to be exacted, should be exact, not approximate.”

As a gay man, I’m never happy to read about the slaughter of a gay man because he’s gay. To use an example that hit close to home, in July 2007, 26-year-old Satender Singh, a Fijian of Indian descent, was killed in my area (Sacramento) because he was suspected of being gay.

Whether he was gay or not I don’t know, but the two men from Eastern Europe who were charged with his murder very apparently thought that he was, because, witnesses said, the Slavic thugs who attacked Singh expressly targeted him because he was, they said, a “faggot” and a “sodomite,” among other things.

According to the hate-group watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center, witnesses also reported that these Slavic thugs “bragged about belonging to a Russian evangelical church and told Singh that he should go to a ‘good church’ like theirs.” This was right before one of the thugs delivered a blow to Singh’s head, a blow that later caused his death. (Great “Christians,” eh? Well, even the Nazis considered themselves to be great “Christians.”)

While I truly wish that the homophobic Eastern European immigrants here in California would fucking respect and honor how things are done and are not done here in California (and not act here as it’s OK to act in their backasswards countries in Eastern Europe) — and if they don’t like our freedoms here, including our freedom from their brand of theofascism, they are free to return to Eastern Europe — never would it have occurred to me that it would have been OK to randomly attack (apparent) Eastern European immigrants on the street in “retaliation” for the murder of Satender Singh.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Since when have we been at war with Dagestan? (Or, Orwell was right)

Updated below

No doubt, justice needs to be done in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Branding and then handling 19-year-old American citizen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an “enemy combatant,” however, would not serve justice. Quite the opposite.

It is the idea of the Gang of the Three — U.S. Sen. John McCainosaurus of Arizona, closet case U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and newbie fascist U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — along with brazen Islamophobe U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, who also is a fucking joke of a statesman — that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be treated as an “enemy combatant”Guantanamo style.

This isn’t about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or the victims of the Boston bombing, of course. This is about the opportunity for self-serving Repugnican Tea Party traitors to once again use the occasion of a national tragedy to grandstand and try to concentrate their personal and political power.

Because, as both George Orwell and George W. Bush (and, I will add, Adolf Hitler, even though we’re never to mention him anymore because it’s always hyperbolic to do so, right?) taught us very well, there’s nothing like exploiting a nation’s fear in order to create hatred with which to fascistically consolidate your political power.

John McCainosaurus still wants us Americans to know what a huge “mistake” we made when we overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama over him in 2008 (McCainosaurus won only 45.7 percent of the popular vote and only 173 electoral votes to Obama’s 52.9 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes).

McCainosaurus, our self-appointed shadow president, still is raging that the much younger, uppity black guy who didn’t have Vietnam-era POW status to shamelessly exploit for political gain (“I was a POW, so I deserve [fill in the blank]”) won the White House that McCainosaurus deserved. It was McCainosaurus’! He was robbed!

And McCainosaurus also wants to remain politically relevant in the increasingly insanely right-wing state of Arizona, the South Africa of the Southwest.

Speaking of racists, Lindsey Graham hails from the first state that seceded from the Union before abolitionist Abraham Lincoln even was inaugurated.

Graham, a “bachelor” who obviously is gay (I’m gay, but unlike the evil loser Graham, I’m not in the fucking closet), obviously is overcompensating with the right-wing fascism thing because he doesn’t want his homophobic, backasswards state’s attention turned to his sexual orientation, which would be disastrous for his next election. It’s a psychology-textbook case.

Kelly Ayotte, who usually is just window dressing at McCainosaurus’ and Graham’s public pronouncements — three U.S. senators supposedly in agreement with each other looks better than two, and perhaps the addition of the junior senator from the blue state of New Hampshire is meant to offset the fact that McCainosaurus and Little Gay Boy Graham come from two of our reddest states — is only in her third year in the Senate, but apparently she believes that her association with the crusty McCainosaurus and the mincing Graham will pay off in her political future.

Peter King, a real piece of shit, is most known for his blatant support of the terrorist Irish Republican Army — because he’s of Irish descent, and so of course they can’t be terrorists — while he alleges that it’s the Muslims who are the real terrorists.

His repeated attacks on Muslims, culminating in his 2011 “hearings” on Exactly How Evil and Dangerous Muslims in the United States Are — I use quotation marks because an Islamophobe conducting a “hearing” on anything Islam-related isn’t there to hear anything, but is only there to pontificate the conclusions that he drew long before the “hearing” began — did nothing for “national security,” but only inflamed relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States.

Which is what King and his piece-of-shit ilk want, of course. They create the very same hatred that quite predictably results in terrorist attacks and at the very same time proclaim that they are going to keep us safe from terrorist attacks. They want to perpetuate the problem that they claim they are the best ones to solve.

They call themselves patriots. I call them traitors, because their insatiable quest for more and more personal and political power only gets more and more Americans killed, and the only good traitor is an executed traitor.

I start off with the Gang of Three and the piece of shit Peter King because, as I said, it’s all about the Gang of Three and the piece of shit King.

For U.S. senators (and at least one U.S. representative) to actually publicly proclaim that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be treated as an “enemy combatant” already is creating an unfair and hostile environment in which the young man is to be tried for Monday’s twin bombings in Boston. His defense attorneys already can show that there is a threat to a fair trial for him.

Of course, it’s not a fair trial that the fascists of the Repugnican Tea Party want (after all, it’s someone else; why care about whether someone else gets a fair trial?). No, it’s more political power that they want.

Expanding the definition of an “enemy combatant” is a slippery slope to hell.

First, you twist and warp and pervert the definition of the word “war.” “War” no longer is a formally declared battle between two nations that will use their military forces to duke it out in a combat that presumedly will result in a “winner” and a “loser.” No, “war,” in Orwellian style, is whatever the fuck you say it is.

The Gang of Three and their ilk claim that We’re still at war! They love that shit. They have loved that 9/11 (which always was, is and always will be a terrorist attack and not part of any real or actual “war”) happened. It gave them, in their minds, a perma-enemy that they could milk for personal and political gain for infinity.

About a quarter of the human beings on the planet identify themselves as Muslims, and they are spread all over the world. If we are “at war” with these people, then obviously that “war,” very conveniently for the Repugnican Tea Party traitors and other assorted war-mongering fascists, never will fucking end.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an American citizen who identifies himself as a Muslim. It is the religion that he was born into. You most likely would identify as a Muslim, too, if you also were born into a Muslim family and Muslim environment.

It’s true that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hasn’t been a U.S. citizen for even a full year, having become a citizen on September 11, 2012. (I don’t know if he chose that date for its symbolism or if those who put on the naturalization ceremony chose it for its symbolism or if it was coincidence or what.)

But even if he became a citizen just a week before Monday’s twin bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon, the fucking fact of the matter is that as an American citizen, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is protected by the Constitution of the United States of America.

And that means that he gets a fair fucking trial.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, apparently grew up in Dagestan (which is next door to Chechnya, and like Chechnya, is a part of Russia) and in Kyrgyzstan (a central Asian nation that once was part of Russia but that now is independent, and that, like Chechnya and Dagestan, has a Muslim majority) before they came to the United States about a decade ago.

Their parents left the United States and returned to live Dagestan, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly visited (visiting one’s parents is not, um, an uncommon thing for a son or daughter to do) before he later apparently masterminded Monday’s bombing of the Boston Marathon. (I still surmise that the 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev dragged his impressionable younger brother into his plot.)

Tamerlan Tsarnaev wasn’t yet a U.S. citizen but reportedly had hoped to become one. But calling even him an “enemy combatant” (were he still alive) is utter bullshit, since we’re not at war with Dagestan (or with any other nation we know he visited after his family moved him to the United States), for fuck’s sake.

To call anyone (like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) who has been living in the United States for a fucking decade (or even longer) and who is a U.S. citizen an “enemy combatant” after he or she has been accused of having committed a crime here (yes, even an egregious crime) when the United States is not actually at war with any other nation also sends the message that No matter how long you’ve been here, you’re not a real American — even if you have gained American citizenship.

This dark path is diametrically opposed to the path that we should take, which is to give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a fair criminal trial. (Under the Obama administration, that probably will happen, but with Obama’s frequent pandering to the right wing and his frequent blatant, Bush-regime-like disregard for the U.S. Constitution, of course we cannot take that for granted.)

We didn’t declare domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh an “enemy combatant” and then strip him of his constitutional rights, even though he slaughtered and injured far more people in Oklahoma City than the Tsarnaev brothers are accused of having slaughtered and injured in Boston. No, we gave McVeigh a fair fucking trial.

True, McVeigh’s 1995 crime preceded 9/11 and the post-9/11 hysteria, but the fact of the matter is that the label “enemy combatant” chiefly is to apply to those who aren’t Anglo and who weren’t born on American soil and to those who predominantly identify themselves as Muslims, and that’s some fucked-up shit, to have one system of “justice” for the Good Old Boys, the so-called “Christian” whiteys who were born here, and another system of “justice” for the rest of us, the so-called “enemy combatants.”

Once we can call even one American citizen an “enemy combatant” when that citizen is not actually an operative for an enemy nation during an actual war, then we can call any American citizen an “enemy combatant.”

Any American citizen who expresses any view and/or commits any act that those in power at the time don’t like can be deemed by the powers that be an “enemy combatant” with whom they then can do as they please in the sacrosanct names of “national security” and the “war” on “terror.”

Killer drones, of course, will make the elimination of such so-called “enemy combatants” as easy as playing a video game.

Today, American citizen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is proclaimed an “enemy combatant” who is stripped of his constitutional right to a fair trial and shipped off to Guantanamo or some other shrouded location, where God knows what will be done to him.

And you’re perfectly OK with that, because Hey, I saw the horrific images of the Boston bombing and I don’t ever want to get bombed! And Besides, you say, if you’re not guilty, then what do you have to be afraid of?

But tomorrow, like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, you say something to a fellow citizen that he or she perceives as unpatriotic. He or she dutifully reports you to the authorities as he or she repeatedly has been instructed to do by the authorities, and then the drones or the thugs come for you, you “enemy combatant,” and you are, as they say, disappeared.

Then, if you still are alive, as you sit in your tiny cell that is located God knows where, you kick the holy living shit out of yourself because  in 2013 you had had no problem whatsoever with American citizen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev being called an “enemy combatant” and stripped of his constitutional rights.

Update (Monday, April, 22, 2013):

NBC News reports today:

The hospitalized Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was charged [today] with using a weapon of mass destruction – and the White House said he will be tried in a civilian court.

“He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

“Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.” …

Contrary to the wishes of the wingnuts, the U.S. Constitution prevails.

But of course the Obama White House just can’t resist pandering to the right — God forbid should Barack Obama be called weak. on. TERROR! — with the White House press secretary already proclaiming the suspect to be guilty by referring to him as “this terrorist” and heavily suggesting that “this terrorist,” too, will be convicted and incarcerated, has have “hundreds of [other] terrorists.”

Gee, in my Civics 101 class, I was taught that it is the job of the judicial branch, not the executive branch, to determine someone’s innocence or guilt.

This is why I couldn’t vote again for Barack Obama in November — he’s George W. Bush Lite.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Boston bombers were tweeners — homegrown and from Chechen region

This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

Associated Press image

Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, right, have been identified by law-enforcement authorities as the probable perpetrators of Monday’s twin bomb blasts during the Boston Marathon that killed three and maimed many others. The brothers came to the United States from the area of war-torn Chechnya about a decade ago. The older brother was shot dead by police and the younger brother remains on the run. Despite having expressed his support of Chechen independence from Russia and his support of Islam, the younger brother on a social networking website reportedly listed his “personal priority” as “career and money.”

So the Boston Marathon bombing apparently was indeed an act of domestic terrorism, but the apparent terrorists weren’t anyone we had suspected.

Those on the right, apparently, were hoping for an Arab terrorist or Arab terrorists, fitting in nicely and neatly with the 9/11 scenario (15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and the rest from Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates [not one of them was from Iraq, I will add]).

There was the 20-year-old Saudi man — a college student — who was tackled by a bystander at the site of the Boston Marathon just after the twin explosions on Monday because of course the Arab-looking man in the crowd was the perpetrator (of course this young man was not the perp).

The right-wing rag the New York Post (which, along with Faux “News,” is owned by right-wing plutocrat Rupert Murdoch) yesterday ran a cover image of a 17-year-old high school track athlete (the one in blue with the blue duffel bag in the image below) and called him a suspect in the Boston bombing when he never was a suspect at all. The other “bombing suspect” in the image that the Post ran on its cover (the man with the black backpack) actually is the student’s 24-year-old track coach.

new york post

But the high-school athlete and his coach, who are from Morocco, look like the usual suspects — here is another image of them that the Post published, encircling their faces with big, red, attention-grabbing rings:

— and that, for the Post, was enough.

I hope that the young men wrongfully called terrorism suspects because they were At the Boston Marathon While Arab sue the Post for libel.

I, on the other hand, had figured that the perpetrator or perpetrators of Monday’s bombing in Boston probably were along the lines of a Zeke or Jeb or Cooter or Skeeter, a homegrown, white, “tea-partying,” anti-federal-government-and-so-of-course-also-anti-tax type, such as we saw with Timothy McVeigh. I mean, a bombing on Tax Day in Boston, home of the Boston Tea Party.

It turns out that the actual probable perps of the bombing apparently are somewhere between the two stereotypical terrorist types of the “Islamofascist” from abroad and the terrorist from home. There is more to be learned, but that’s where it stands right now.

The probable perps of Monday’s terrorist attack in Boston reportedly were two brothers from the area of Chechnya (also called the Chechen Republic, which is part of Russia), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerlan, 26, reportedly was shot dead during a police shootout that took place in Boston between yesterday, when the brothers’ surveillance-camera images were released by the FBI, and early this morning, and Dzhokhar, 19, a student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, reportedly still is on the run. I hope that he is captured alive so that we learn more about the motives behind the bombing.

Being an American, I don’t know much about Chechnya, but there is Wikipedia, a blogger’s best friend, and from Wikipedia I see that Chechnya has a population of less than 2 million people, and that racially, the denizens of Chechnya are grouped as “Caucasoid,” Wikipedia notes, adding, “The majority of Chechens are dark-haired (medium to dark brown or black), but there are Chechens with blond or even red hair, while eye color ranges from blue to brown and skin tone is typically rather pale and light (though there are some Chechens with olive complexions).”

Arabs, anthropologically speaking, also are “Caucasoid,” but apparently among the Chechens there are some who look Anglo (all Anglos are “Caucasoid,” but not all who are “Caucasoid” are Anglo).

The right-wingers no doubt feel vindicated, however,  over the fact that (per Wikipedia) “Islam is the predominant religion in Chechnya. Chechens are overwhelmingly adherents to Sunni Islam, the country having converted to Islam between the 16th and the 19th centuries.”

But Chechens aren’t Arabs, the usual terrorism suspects in the eyes of many if not most Americans, and reportedly the Tsarnaev brothers came to the United States about decade ago as refugees from the war-torn Chechnya.

Because they (have) lived in the United States for about a decade, and because they came here when they were young, I still would call the Tsarnaev brothers homegrown terrorists, but, of course, not of the usual variety of homegrown terrorists.

My guess is that the older Tsarnaev brother influenced the younger, and that the older brother was quite unstable and the younger brother was quite impressionable, as younger brothers often are.

Yahoo! News notes that Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly had a wife and young child and that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was remembered by former classmates as bright and personable, posted links to pro-Chechnyan independence sites on his social media page, and listed his worldview as ‘Islam.'”

Yahoo! News also reports that “in an emotional press conference,” the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, “said his nephews had brought shame upon his family, and called them ‘losers.’ He said they were not ‘able to settle themselves’ and were ‘angry at everyone who was able to.’ He said he did not believe they were motivated by the radical politics in Chechnya or their Muslim religion.”

Again, hopefully the younger brother will be captured alive and will tell us exactly what happened and why. His role might have been only as an accessory to his much more radicalized older brother, it seems to me.

The take-home lesson in all of this, it also seems to me, is that any chronically angry young man, foreign or domestic, white-skinned or brown-skinned, identifying as a Muslim or a Christian (or as a member of another religion), can perpetrate an act violence or even of terrorism — chronic anger and testosterone are a dangerous, explosive mix — and that the best way to prevent terrorist attacks in the future is to address, seriously and significantly, that which causes chronic anger in young men.

Chief among those causes here at home, it seems to me, is a lack of economic opportunity in the United States of America. In the so-called land of opportunity, our young people are struggling. And, despite their hard work and their struggle, they are told that their lack of progress is entirely their fault — certainly not the fault of the plutocratic system of the haves and the have-nots that actually has their failure built in, that has institutionalized it, pretty much guaranfuckingteed it, in fact.

Before you claim that I’m full of shit, know that while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (according to Reuters) on his Russian-language social networking website posted links to websites promoting Islam and Chechen independence from Russia, he listed his “personal priority” as “career and money.”

So while his Chechen birth gave him an identity as a Chechen/Chechen American and a Muslim, his most immediate personal concern apparently was “career and money.”

And over that issue, it seems to me, we Americans, who forfuckingever now have been perfectly complacent with our system of haves and have-nots that eats its own young, should be surprised — and probably thankful — that justifiably chronically angry young men of all identities in the United States aren’t blowing shit up all over the fucking place.

P.S. I have to note that while I find the pervasive presence of surveillance cameras in public to pose real threats to privacy, and to create an oppressive, Big-Brother-like atmosphere, one has to be impressed, I think, by the swiftness with which the apparent perpetrators of Monday’s terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon were identified by law-enforcement officials.

Once the FBI released the surveillance-camera images of the two suspects yesterday, it was just a matter of time before they were identified as the Tsarnaev brothers.

Update: I want to be accurate, so let me clarify: Apparently the Tsarnaev brothers might have come to the United States from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, and the brothers are (well, one is and one was…), according to media reports, “ethnic Chechens.” I am not certain of the exact nation of the brothers’ birth, but apparently they were born in one or both of the two neighboring nations of Chechnya and Dagestan.

Per Wikipedia, Dagestan has a population of about 3 million and, like Chechnya, its primary religion is Sunni Islam.

From Wiki, here is a map of Chechnya and Dagestan:

And here is a map of the larger area, known as the North Caucasus:

File:Chechnya and Caucasus.png

Second update: According to NBC News, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan and became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 11 of last year, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was married to a U.S. citizen and had hoped to become a U.S. citizen himself, was born in Russia. The Associated Press reports that

Dzhokhar’s page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says that before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian.

The same AP story also reports that the two brothers “had come to the United States about 10 years ago from a Russian region near Chechnya [Dagestan, I presume], according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md. They had two sisters. As kids they rode bikes and skateboards on quiet Norfolk Street in Cambridge, Mass.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized