(MCT) — If you’re looking for the big speech about the Boston Marathon bombings and the motivations of the Tsarnaev brothers, wrapping it all up like a nice veal roast in white butcher paper, don’t worry. You won’t have to wait long. There’s definitely a market for such stuff.
Americans demand instant analysis, and we become impatient, even angry, when we don’t get it. Our most popular TV dramas involve forensic investigators with all-but-magical powers who solve cases in one hour. And other such shows have wise old actors playing wise old prosecutors who wrap everything up in the big speech before the final commercial.
So someone else will oblige, and wrap this one up, too, and offer the big speech and layer it with their personal politics. And others of like mind will nod at the wisdom, the way the talking heads nod sagely on those Sunday morning talk shows. The consensus formed, it will begin to harden, it will be framed quite neatly. Politicians will use this to leverage policy.
Here’s some instant analysis about what happened in Boston: It defies instant analysis. And what we get if we reach for it too quickly isn’t a veal roast.
My suggestion? Wait and see.
“We’re not going to know what happened and why and who’s involved until it’s over,” said former Chicago FBI official Ross Rice on Friday, interviewed on the WLS-AM 890 radio show that I co-host with Lauren Cohn. “Who else might have helped them, how they made the bomb, that’s all going to come out later.”
Much later. Days perhaps, weeks more likely. This might sound like a radical idea, but the politics of the brothers or their religion or their social status may have absolutely nothing to do with what happened.
It just may be that the older brother was a madman, or pure evil or both, and that the younger brother was drawn into it. Or not. There were reports that the older brother had begun praying five times a day, and this news was repeated ominously over broadcast news all day on Friday, with the speculation he had been “radicalized,” as if devout Islamic prayer is a threat indicator.
And so real life becomes the backdrop for the Showtime network’s splendidly paranoid drama “Homeland,” about an American soldier who becomes an Islamic terrorist.
Shortly after the bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last week, killing at least three and maiming and wounding more than 170, there was a rush to make politics of the tragedy.
If the suspects had been of the political right, we’d be hip-deep in public discussion led by some of the left, all about those intolerant conservatives who cling to their guns and their religion and the Constitution and their alleged deep-seated anger toward government.
The left had nakedly hoped it was the work of a conservative anti-taxer. President Barack Obama’s political brain, strategist David Axelrod, noted that the bombing took place on tax day, subtly implying that it could have been the work of a member of the “tea party.’’ And the liberal Democrat and former Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Barney Frank used the tragedy to club conservatives who hope to shrink the size of government.
But the suspects are immigrants, their families from war-torn Chechnya, where religious separatists have waged a bloody war of terror against Russia. Now Islam is being blamed and some on the right flex their muscles.
“We can’t be bound by political correctness,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told the National Review as he called for increased domestic spying based on ethnicity. “We need more police and more surveillance in the communities where the threat is coming from, whether it’s the Irish community with the Westies (an Irish-American gang in New York City), or the Italian community with the Mafia, or the Muslim community with the Islamic terrorists.”
It’s all politics, yes, and politics mixed with tragedy is often ugly. But that’s what fills the vacuum. The one person I found intriguing was the uncle of the suspects, Ruslan Tsarni, who condemned his nephews and praised the U.S. for its freedoms.
Tsarni said that his nephews were losers who may have been radicalized by others and that for all the media talk of Chechnya, the young men had never set foot there.
“Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else, anything to do with religion is a fraud,” Tsarni said.
“My family has nothing to do with that family,” he said. “Of course we’re ashamed. Yes, we’re ashamed. … (They) put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.”
It’s not every day that a relative of terrorism suspects speaks of honor and shame. Not in America. These are old concepts of vital importance to tribal people, more important to some than food or life.
They were important in America, too, once, but not in modern America, where discussions of shame and honor are ridiculed or avoided the way we avoid anyone with a contagious disease. Such notions are now held at best by immigrants who soon assimilate, or not.
Like those two Tsarnaev brothers, stuck between a dream of a homeland they never visited and an America that welcomed them, two young men who shamed their family by allegedly murdering innocents at a sporting event that commemorates the Western ideal of individual excellence.
Examining all that takes time, and many of us want to wrap up this story now, tightly, neatly, and move on. But let’s not move on just yet.
———John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. ———
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