The tragic events in Boston have brought to bear many uncomfortable reminders of the 9/11 horror, but none more all consuming than the need to try to understand the incomprehensible, in the form of the simple question, why? The use of brutal violence against innocents was repeated with the conversion of weapon of choice from plane to pressure cooker, but the intent was the same…to reek havoc, to maim and kill as many as possible. The application of violence is not unique for such goals. It happens everyday somewhere on the globe – on the streets of Damascus in Syria, the markets of Kabul, on the subway in London, the transit train in Madrid, the night club in Indonesia, the center city of Mumbai, India. The point of such violence is its inherent pointlessness, its anarchistic rage, against those that are seen as insufficiently aware of the bomber’s cause. What is somewhat new with the Boston tragedy may be seeds of a new reality that America assumed itself to be immune from because of the particular openness of this society, home grown terrorism. On September 11th, 2012, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took an other declaring his fidelity to American values and became an American citizen. Seven months later, he declared his complete disavowal of those ideals, in wanton slaughter of his fellow citizens.
It will be along time if ever that we understand the process that converts individuals like Dzhokhar from being an engaged high school athlete earning a scholarship to higher education to a radicalized cold blooded killer in just a few short years. The strands of two formative impulses are increasingly apparent, though, the radicalization of a religion, Islam, into promoting the anarchistic impulses of a whole generation of disaffected youths, and the progressive disconnect of American society from the value set of what it means to be an American. The power of these dark forces to provide the spark to the internal explosive instability in the Tsarnaev brothers is a discussion we need to face.
The use of Islam as a front for radical anarchy has been in front of us now for several decades. The civil, modern world has been slow to the recognition of the marriage between institutional Islam and anarchy, but to continue to deny it is ludicrous. Billions of dollars poured into the celebration of death and martyrdom, the hate spewed from the mouths of mullahs expressing racial superiority, subservience of women, and holy war, the fueling of internet sites linking violence and the means to achieve it, have radicalized a generation of young people who feel no personal connection with their life and need to express their rage and evict their powerlessness. There is no sense any longer arguing about this being a fringe of the religion – it is deeply embedded in its institution. The President of Egypt, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, refers to Jews not as people he disagrees with, but pigs. The President of Iran, looks forward to the day when he can lead the annihilation of an entire nation state, Israel. The Supreme Leader of Iran, promotes a fatwa demanding the death of an author Salman Rushdie, for the crime of expressing a dream sequence about the prophet Mohammad. A member of the Saudi elite family Bin Laden, promotes a caliphate of 11th century ideals through a network of anarchists murdering thousands of people for two decades. Until the religion of Islam achieves its own Reformation and enters the modern world, it will continue to use the potent weapons of the 21st century, to attempt to achieve the rejectionist dogma of the 7th century. The civil world owes it to itself to finally come to grips with this clarity. The Tsarnaev brothers were rudderless in their hate, until institutional Islam helped weaponize it.
The second thread is a uniquely American one. The photo above movingly expresses what used to be the immigrant dream – to come to America, to become American meant to leave the rigidity and constraints of a previous life behind, and be accepted as an individual with the limitless possibilities offered in a free society. It was understood by every immigrant that entered Ellis Island that the sacrifices and struggles were not behind them, but the societal restraints were. They would have to learn the language, work long hours, struggle to achieve, but for the generations to follow all would be possible. The power of a free society was that whatever your roots, the constitutional rights assured you your place in the American dream, because being an American was not where one was born, but what one believed. It has been assumed that this remains a force today and has kept America free of the disconnected and disaffected that have plagued other societies. Unfortunately that is a myth we know must additionally face up to. The Tsarnaev brothers lived the immigrant dream. From a youth crushed by the extreme prejudice and intense violence of being Chechnyan in the world of Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan, to living in Boston and achieving university status and athletic success, one would assume the juxtaposition would be a positive. It becomes increasingly evident that with the success of the brothers the isolation and sense of disconnection became increasingly intense. The older brother previously expressed, ” I have no American friends”. The younger, superficially expressing the importance of American ideals by bothering to become a citizen, increasingly followed his older brothers fidelity to the superiority claptrap of radicalized Islam, and rejected his potential role in an American free society. The immigrant process of celebrating your roots while venerating your American conversion was entirely lost on the brothers. We will probably find out if disconnect switch was Islam, and that we may need to face up to as well.
My literary hero, Mark Steyn, reflects on the American disconnect and our role in it through the vagaries of “coexistence” with a religion that teaches that coexistence is an intolerable state. We have extended our positive desire to accept all cultures for what they are with the damaging idea that all cultures are equal. A culture that infuses a hatred of others, proclaims religious and racial superiority, declares the female half of the human race subservient and supports their mutilation, seeks the annihilation of nations, and demands our acceptance of such dogma is not an equal culture to modern society. Our “co-existence” should include a rational and vigorous defense of our society’s freedom, and the disavowal of any thread of acceptance of such culture and such attitudes. There is no real way to ever eliminate every individual who feels an internal hate for society who ends up acting out that hatred, but we can stop pretending that being American and living in a free society is something to apologize for. Multi-culturalism should be the drive to incorporate the best principles of a culture, not accept the flaws and flagellation of a broken one.
My heart and prayers go out to the Boston victims.