Now that the two (primary, at least) terrorists from the Boston Marathon attack have been killed or captured, we enter a new phase in which the dominant politically correct, factually incorrect forces try to explain away the attack.
Can this be done? Will they really try? Well, yes. True, as one of my correspondents remarked, it is much easier to obfuscate distant Benghazi than a total shutdown and horror in the middle of a major American city. Yet the spin-masters are already at work.
The first step must be, in part, a stalling technique — but it sets the pattern for what is to come. The motive must be obfuscated — this Reuters piece, “Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation Turns to Motive,” is a good start. The article spends seven paragraphs discussing the parents’ claim that the two brothers were framed.
This suggests that mass media and politicians will not shrink from suggesting — perhaps I should say “giving fair hearing” — to bizarre conspiracy theories and doubts. People shouldn’t believe these completely, is the theme, but you just can’t be too sure that two young Muslims would have any reason to harm Americans. There are now witnesses who heard the two terrorists’ mother claiming that September 11 was a U.S. plot to make people hate Muslims.
That’s where playing with that kind of fire leads.
In the Reuters article, the word “Islam” is not mentioned except to say that the two once lived in one predominantly Muslim country, and that another place they lived, Dagestan, is “a southern Russian province that lies at the heart of a violent Islamist insurgency.” Here, we have another technique: minimize Islam as a factor, and turn it into background noise.
Obviously, this will not apply completely, both because the elephant in the room is too big, and there is still some journalistic integrity in places. Both the Washington Post and Mother Jones took a lead in exposing the YouTube likes of one of the terrorists, which showed a preference for al-Qaeda views — to say the least.
There are a lot of other quivers in the arsenal of denial, however. On Face the Nation, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he had no idea why the Tsarnaev brothers would target “innocent men, women, and children in the way that these two fellows did.”
The answer — of course — is that these people were not regarded as innocent at all, but as soldiers in the alleged Christian-Jewish war on Islam. This, of course, is precisely the same thinking that has been produced by Islamists for decades. Might September 11, 2001, be a clue for Patrick?
Of course, for Patrick to say that at this point in the investigation is understandable on one level: as a refusal by a government official to remark on an ongoing investigation, which is a relief from the president’s past remarks that the police acted “stupidly” with professor Henry Louis Gates and “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Yet what if Patrick’s claim is sustained, week after week, until the heat is off?
NBC News has just reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited an Islamist radical six times at a mosque in Dagestan. The Caucasian/Chechen angle offers some hope for successful obfuscation, as a lot of media time can be spent talking about that conflict. [Christian Science Monitor, it isn’t Islam but a Chechen tribal code of honor.]
Of course, if the young men were acting as Chechens and not as Islamists they would have attacked a Russian target. The United States has not — even by the usual stretch of radical Islamist imagination — had anything to do with the conflict in Chechnya.
The more compelling the conflict in Chechnya is as a source of pain and passion, the less compelling the argument that the conflict was a motive. The Russians have indeed been brutal in suppressing the rebellion, far more than the West or Israel has acted toward anyone. So what cause overrides that one?
Yet Chechen grievances will be a good topic for obfuscation.
Be sure that soon, there will also be a frantic attempt at the “blame ourselves” theme. If the issue wasn’t such a tragic one, this would be humorous. Could America have acted more kindly toward these two brothers? Nevertheless, do not underestimate how well this theme will play with citizens who drink similar flavors of Kool-Aid.
In this pursuit of obfuscation, no idiocy is unthinkable. Canadian Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau, attempting to be an Obama clone, explained:
There is no question that this happened because of someone who feels completely excluded, someone who feels completely at war … with society.
His solution, then:
[Do not] marginalize people even further who already feel like they are enemies of society rather than people who have hope for the future.
In other words, doing anything is more dangerous than doing nothing. To combat radical Islam is to hurt people’s feelings, and that will produce more terrorism.
The brotherly duo — and their family — was treated extraordinarily well by the country they betrayed. They were allowed in, rather questionably, as permanent residents, and suddenly large numbers of relatives were in the United States as well (so much for our supposed draconian immigration laws). One of the brothers even became a citizen.
They went to the best schools. What did they learn there about the greatness of America? Was the seed of rage fertilized by U.S. education’s tendency to demonize American history as evil, greedy, racist, and imperialist?
One of them even got a scholarship.
It is vital to understand the profound difference between these two and the September 11 hijackers, men who came on a mission of sabotage and murder. They reached the U.S. shore as enemies, reliable agents of revolutionary retribution. These two young men, however, had a free choice. They had to actively close their minds to everything good they experienced and to adopt an ideology of hate. Only a very powerful force could move them in that direction.
We have seen this frequently in the United Kingdom and France.
Guess what? If comparisons are to be made to the 9/11 terrorists, it would have to be acknowledged that there is a second-generation (though, strictly speaking, these two are first generation) time bomb implanted with these two brothers — implying that we can expect many more attacks like this.
But will anyone add on that point?
The brothers’ otherwise normal activities will be used to make them seem … normal, their motive inexplicable. But on the contrary: it is their apparent normality, their seeming assimilation into American life, which makes the situation so scary.
Of course, a key argument is that Islam has nothing to do with this, and that Islamism isn’t directly behind it. A new theme that is being used by a lot of obfuscators: Muslims view “Islamic” terrorists the same way Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.
Here is a positive evaluation of that quote which explains that the idea there is much support among Muslims for terrorism comes merely “from the Vast Right Wing Echo Chamber” — then, the author changes the argument to say the claim is that the Boston terrorists “are representative of all Muslims everywhere. It’s a ridiculous double standard.” In other words, the terrorists in Boston and everywhere else don’t represent much of anything but themselves.
As I recall, the Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t govern ten countries.
But you don’t want to be a right-wing nut, do you? Then don’t say that the Boston attack arose from an ideology of Islamism, or link it to the thousands of other such recent attacks around the world.
The truth: American Muslims themselves do not agree that support for terrorism is minimal in their community.
In 2011, 21 percent of all American Muslims — and a higher number, 32 percent, of U.S.-born Muslims — thought there is a great deal or fair amount of support for terrorism among them.
Why is the number of U.S.-born Muslims who believe this so much higher? Because they tend to be younger people who are more in contact with social media, and with people like the two young Boston bombers.
What about the Boston terrorists’ mosque and their other contacts in the Muslim community? Why didn’t they get an anti-extremist indoctrination there, an explanation of what Islam is all about? They attended a Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored mosque — shhh! — and the Boston Muslim religious leadership is full of extremists, the evidence of which has long been available.
The mosque even received a subsidy from Boston, despite hosting anti-American speakers who made the precise arguments used to rationalize terrorism.
We won’t be hearing much about these issues though. Well, except for two aspects: a story is now circulating that one of the brothers was thrown out of his mosque for being too radical.
We will also see denunciations of the terror attack by Islamist front groups. The New York Times article on motive cited these statements three times. I believe that groups like CAIR do not support the Boston attack or al-Qaeda, but they support many other terrorist attacks, and they support the ideology and set of beliefs on which the Boston attack is based. That’s why so many associated with CAIR, even on a senior level, have become involved in anti-American terrorism.
Having followed this issue for many years: I have never heard of a single anti-radicalization program conducted by any mosque or “mainstream” Islamic group. Real moderates are isolated, vilified, denied media attention, and even forced out of local mosques.
In a 2011 Pew poll, fully half of American Muslims said their leaders aren’t doing enough to fight extremism. That last point can safely be used as a certified non-“Islamophobic” argument about where much of the problem lies — but it won’t be.
Of course, the troubled youth angle will be played to the fullest. Yes, the tribulations of young adulthood and adolescence are factors, but only inasmuch as it makes them vulnerable to systematic indoctrination. In other words, their specific psychology and even personal experiences are not the motive any more than the childhood of a professional hit-man for the Mafia is.
It is also possible to fall back on the idea that determining the motive is impossible or irrelevant — there’s just too much stuff out there, dude. In the words of Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University:
The individual, particular motivations of the perpetrators have little significance since there are multiple grievances out there and, in the Islamic world, there is free-floating angst.
That statement was too much even for Bill Maher.
Another angle will be the growing story of governmental incompetence in using intelligence to stop terrorists. In part, this is unfair since there have also been many successes. A more important issue is why government officials, politicians, army officers, academics, and journalists fear to point out the truth: look at the Nidal Hasan/Fort Hood attack. Pointing out the truth is bad for their careers and reputations, as well as sometimes counter to their own ideologies.
Obfuscators also use the partisan argument, made most memorably by a journalist who openly hoped the terrorists would be white right-wingers.
There is an unnoticed dimension here: if the attack is seen as a political defeat, it cannot be a learning experience. The question isn’t “does this attack tell us something important about the real world?”, but: “How can we explain it away so we don’t suffer a setback in the effort to fundamentally transform America into a just, non-racist society?”
And so they will claim that, in a sense, white right-wingers — or at least the kind of policies they would endorse — did cause the Boston attack. America was mean to these kids, it is aggressive in other countries, and counter-terrorist protection was reduced by budget cuts.
In other words: lying, concealing, and misleading become defined as virtuous. As Trudeau said, talking honestly about revolutionary Islamism would be to inspire more racism and terrorism.
Finally, there is the “full admission” fallback argument — on which Obama’s foreign policy is based. Sure, it was those evil SOBs, al-Qaeda, but the other Islamists are relatively good, so we have to promote them into power since only they can counter the “bad” Islamists.
That’s why Obama claims Islamist governments in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey are good for you. Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry, in Turkey, compared Americans’ feelings about the Boston attack to Turkish feelings about the killing of jihadis engaged in supporting a terrorist group (Hamas) who attacked Israeli soldiers during the Gaza flotilla incident.
This should not be seen merely as a clumsy statement, but as dangerous, revealing stupidity. It is dangerous because it tells Muslims that they are equally the victims of “our” terrorism; it is revealing because the context shows the equation of all violence, no matter what the cause, that reinforces such thinking.
A U.S. attack on terrorists in Yemen, Afghanistan, or elsewhere then becomes “anti-Muslim violence” that justifies the next terror attack in an American city.
Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw explained that American drones were killing innocent people, and this led to rage against the “presumptuousness of the United States.”
In an honest discussion it must be considered what U.S. policy factors lead to terrorism. But now there is the transfer to America of the old “cycle of violence” argument about the Middle East. Terrorists murder Israeli civilians or fire rockets at Israel, Israel defends itself, and the two events are treated as indistinguishable.
Defending yourself offends people.
The proper response: denounce the terrorists and the ideology of terrorism, and proclaim the right of focused self-defense, which means doing everything possible to retaliate against those responsible and not citizens of another country chosen at random.
The American secretary of state, a leading Canadian politician, journalists, and others are thus rationalizing in advance more such attacks.
They will get their “wish,” and then explain away the next event as more proof of their worldview.