There is only one thing that comes close to shocking me as much as the horrific attacks last week at the Boston Marathon, and that is the American media’s relentless pursuit of an angle that paints suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a young, tragic hero.
Even before our boy hero’s cowardly capture under a tarp of a boat on Friday Night, news stations like CNN and NPR were busy posting photos of Dzhokhar looking very much like the boy next door, telling us that he was an above average student and wrestler, a surviving immigrant from a war torn Dagestan. He got a 2,500 dollar grant to go to Dartmouth, a feat not many students achieve. We were told that he had many American friends who described him as ‘very sweet and very funny’.
They opined that he did not fit the bill of the average terrorist, so that surely means that he is not our average terrorist? He is a sensitive type of terrorist. The poor fella really didn’t know what he was doing.
We were also told that his older brother Tamerlan, the loner on the peripheral of society, the beast that beat his girlfriend, the Muslim extremist who Dzhokhar idolized, was more than likely the instigator of the attacks and drew his unwitting teenage brother in for the big boom.
Now, I can see similar outpourings flowering up all over social media sites from people.
There is a difference between a tragic hero and an evil terrorist, no matter what way you frame it. William Shakespeare’s King Lear unwisely divided his kingdom between his daughters, and cruelly banished his youngest before realizing the error of his ways when it was too late. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev heinously divided limbs from people, and banished countless families to lifetimes of hardship, not even coming close to realizing the error of his ways as he callously tweeted after the attack ‘lol those people are cooked.'
But like a cornered, scurrying little rat will bite out at anything in order to get away, I’m sure Dzhokhar will pick out any desperate excuse to garner sympathy for himself when the microphone is put in front of him. And like Hollywood agents courting a misunderstood yet talented actor, the media have given him a number of heartbreaking scripts to choose from. Will he go with the alienation storyline? He was a young, impressionable immigrant who didn’t understand the culture and couldn’t connect with anyone. Or will he go with the brainwashed storyline? His brother has been grooming him for this for years, told him that America and Americans were the enemies but he didn’t understand really what he was doing. Or maybe he will go with the freedom fighter storyline? He set down a bomb beside innocent, American children in order to draw attention to the plight of his people thousands of miles away.
Knowing our boy hero Dzhokhar Tsarnaev however, he may well just choose all three, and the media will lap up and run with whatever he says, because the man can kill and maim countless people, but he surely wouldn’t lie to us, would he?
The truth is that perhaps Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not like an innocent, unknowing, family dog, that lost a battle with his primal instincts for a split second to bite a child, and is now looking at us with big, doughy eyes when led away to his fate.
The truth is that Dzhokhar is a man, not a boy. He is a man that is blessed with having secondary and tertiary thoughts rolling around his head. He is a man that thrived in America and had friends, and he betrayed these friends not once but twice. This fact seems to confuse people. Surely he couldn’t have done this when he had close, American friends? I think it makes him even more of a sociopath knowing that he was hurting people he was close to.
He is also a man that allegedly ran over his own brother in a car in order to evade authorities. He is a man that would probably be planning his next attack with a smug smile on his face, if the authorities weren’t so competent in tracking the two terrorists down.
And because people seem to think that his tender age of 19 seems to grant him some sort of divine immunity, he is a man that killed 4 people under the age of 30, one being an 8 year old boy, one being a 23 year old student, one being a 29 year old sweetheart who’s mother broke down in a heartbreaking display of public grief over, and the last one being a 26 year old police officer that he and his brother put a bullet through.
And now the whole world is looking at him and wondering what he has to say, as if we can actually trust anything that he says? The media will tell you that they will give him a voice to learn how to stop similar atrocities happening in the future, but I think in this land of copycats we give too much attention to madmen, because giving them the chance to grow a sympathetic voice is more dangerous than anything.
We have heard him speak already in the form of two mammoth explosions, and what a voice he has. There are people dead because of what he had to say. There are people who will never walk again thanks to what he had to say. There is a little Irish dancer, now former Irish dancer, who lost her brother and her leg thanks to what he had to say.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not a misunderstood, tragic hero. Evil is pretty easy to understand. If we really want tragic heroes, let’s look at all the victims.
So, let the authorities do their investigation to find out what his fractured ideology is, if there are any more people he was working with, what else he had planned, and whatever else they need to close the case.
But then put a tape over Dzhokhar Tsaenaev’s mouth and throw him into a tiny, lonely cell for the rest of his life, let him succumb and suffer from real alienation, because he surely won’t be suffering from guilt.