As the flood of new reports and interviews on the marathon bombing and the Tsarnaev brothers mounts, analysis will ensue and every pundit, expert, and host will offer guesses, hypotheses, and theories. Today Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in front of the magistrate and a criminal complaint was filed against him that could lead to the death penalty if convicted. That, of course, is a long ways off. In the meantime, we have more questions than answers, more opinions than facts, more emotion than logic, and more politics than justice. And no shortage of stupidity, yes Brian Kilmeade I am talking to you.
The usual calls from Republican lawmakers such as Peter King, Mike McCaul, and Michele Bachmann will center on the growing concern of radicalized domestic Muslims, because, after all, that is the only source of terror. So while investigators try to stitch together the timeline, and they will, we will learn why Tamerlan Tsarnaev did what he did and how he convinced his brother Dzhokhar to join him. We will understand the role of religion in his radicalization and how his ethnicity played a role in his tragic transformation. But before we start bugging mosques, like Fox’s Brian Kilmeade suggested, I point out what NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told Fareed Zakaria “We follow leads, not communities.”
The bombing on Marathon Monday and the subsequent manhunt and arrest of the surviving Tsarnaev sandwiched two events in Washington: the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey background check amendment and the emergence of the Gang of Eight immigration reform compromise. Both of which are now seen in new light following the events in Boston. Republican Senators Cornyn, Grassley, Sessions, and others will now use the Tsarnaevs as further reason why we need to restrict immigration. Sadly, these gentlemen fail to realize that 40% of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or the children of immigrants and one reason why small business growth stalled is the visa restrictions imposed post 9/11. I am not surprised that these officials would scuttle a badly needed measure. In light of the background check amendment losing 54-46, perhaps we can wonder why two young men who were not licensed to carry firearms were not only able to procure guns, but also materials to make mass killing bombs. At least for the moment, violent videogames and movies haven’t been blamed.
On September 16, 1920 a bomb was detonated outside the Wall Street headquarters of JP Morgan killing 38 and injuring 143 others. The bombing remains unsolved, but communists, Marxists, unionists, Russians, Jews, Italians, and others were suspected, blamed, harassed, and worse. It led to excessive civil rights violations the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, and the emergence of the American Civil Liberties Union. On September 11, 2001 we all know what happened and 45 days later we were rewarded with the Patriot Act and the further infringement of our civil liberties at the expense of security. Let’s hope our lawmakers do not overreact this time.
In the coming weeks and months we will learn more. Americans will get a crash course on Dagestan and Chechnya. We will ask why did the FBI end its surveillance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and how come no one from the Cambridge Muslim community called the FBI to report his growing radicalization. Conservatives will mock those calling for protecting 4th amendment rights, and Liberals will continue to ask for stricter gun laws. Immigration reform will get moved to the breakdown lane and the John McCains and Lindsey Grahams will need to get refresher courses on the Constitution.
If Tsarnaev was not part of al-Qaeda or linked to Chechen Jihadists, does that not make him more like Holmes or Lanza than Mohammed Atta?
Yes our brief unity will be torn asunder by politics and cynicism. Those trying to strike a balance between liberty and security will be drowned out by those thinking they know understand freedom.
Another critical chapter is about to unfold.