Tag Archives: Tsarnaev

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.

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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.

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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.”

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