The PJ Tatler

Think Progress: You Know, We Really Ought to Check the Dead Boston Bomber for Brain Damage

In the nearly 12 years I have been writing about terrorism, a distinctive response set on the left has emerged. If the attack is a one-off by a lone nut with no coherent political ideology (because they’re crazy) — Aurora, Newtown, Tucson — leftists will tend to react by blaming the weapon in order to ban it, and blame people on the right, just because they always want to blame people on the right. They get a two-fer in their own minds, as they have always favored gun control, and have always hated everyone to their political right. Leftists blamed Tucson on Sarah Palin’s map, Aurora on Batman movies and briefly, the Tea Party, and blamed Newtown on the guns that the killer stole. Michael Moore blamed Columbine on defense contractors. Mass murder leads to wishcasting.

But when a true and obviously ideologically-based terrorist attack happens, as at Ft. Hood in 2009 or in Boston on April 15, no one on the left blames the gun or the bomb or the pressure cooker used to build it. They don’t even blame the ideology, at least not until forced to. They leap for any excuse to get away from the fact that Islamic jihadists who want to kill us because of who we are have once again launched a successful attack. Electing Obama was supposed to end all that. It’s such a shock that terrorism still goes on. President Obama hastened to tell us all last week that we shouldn’t rush to judgement on any group of people because of Boston, a caution he never ever speaks when talking about conservatives, Republicans or us awful “bitter clingers” of the world. Judge them, fine, says the president. But don’t jump to conclusions about people like Nidal Hasan, author of “workplace violence” at Fort Hood. He still hasn’t come clean about Benghazi, and probably never will. He’s never as visibly angry at al Qaeda as he is at the NRA.

Over at Think (to use that term loosely) Progress, Travis Waldron has written the latest attempt to blame anything but the Islamist ideology and its preachers and foot soldiers for mass murder. Waldron attempts to link — not making this up — Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s past boxing career to the Boston bombing.

Could the amateur boxing career of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased suspect in last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, have had a role in the massacre? That’s a question leading brain researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine hope medical examiners look into when they perform an autopsy of the 26-year-old who was killed during a firefight with law enforcement officials early Friday morning.

Tsarnaev was a champion boxer who qualified for the national Golden Gloves competition and had once had dreams of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. That abbreviated career has led Drs. Robert Cantu and Robert Stern to urge examiners to study his brain for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease found in boxers since the 1920s that has received renewed attention because it was found in the brains of former football players. Though both doctors doubt that CTE caused the behavior that led to the bombings, researchers shouldn’t overlook the chance to study Tsarnaev’s brain, they told the Boston Globe:

“Is it possible that some changes might have gone on in his overall functioning due to his boxing and potentially related brain disease? Yes,’’ said Stern, a BU professor of neurology and neurosurgery. “Anything is possible. But to then jump to the disease leading to well-planned behavior like this, I couldn’t go there.’’ […]

And so forth. Waldron is calling for the bomber’s brain to be checked for CTE. Fine. Check him thoroughly now that he’s at room temperature and not going anywhere. But check out his beliefs while we’re at it. This, liberals only do when the beliefs are not completely obvious, as they are in Boston.

But the reasoning behind mass killings like the Marathon bombing, are complex and often hard to understand, and the deaths of the killers themselves during or after the attacks can leave us largely without answers. Knowing that, it’s worth exploring every angle, including the possibility that brain injuries and CTE may have compounded problems Tsarnaev was already experiencing.

They’ll explore every angle except the obvious one.

Not asked by the mental giants at TP: Why didn’t Mohammad Ali become a notorious killer? He took far more blows to the head than young Tsarnaev did. He’s a Muslim too. What’s the diff?

The Thinkers of Progress will never figure it out.