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The Paradoxes of the Boston Bombings

The Art of Bomb-making

One does not learn to set off bombs successfully by downloading information from the Internet. I can fix my dryer through the help of web-based blueprints, but would not even try if there were a chance that the job would blow me up. Tamerlan Tsarnaev needed to be taught the do’s and don’t’s of assembling even a so-called crude bomb. Most likely, he obtained that expertise firsthand. He required some practice in letting a device off, if the two pressure cookers were to work at the marathon. Tamerlan Tsarnaev acquired such information either during his return home or from an experienced terrorist inside the U.S. If the latter, brace yourselves for more to come in the ensuing weeks, unless the FBI knows more than do we. Al-Qaedism is a sort of sudden snap to attention, when a zealot decides to act out against the perceived corruption and crimes of his generous host and discovers that there are all sorts of resources out there to help him live his dreams.

The Tsarnaev Reactions

I understand the horror of learning that one’s child is a cold-hearted killer. I admire the Tsarnaev uncle for stressing the need of his nephew to apologize to the victims. But the reactions of the father, the mother, and the aunt are prima facie evidence for relief that the former two are now gone from the U.S., and the latter should be. We are collectively tired of guests trashing the culture that accepted them, blaming their own problems as parents vaguely on the U.S. or some unnamed dark forces, or simply denying when overwhelming evidence makes clear their children's responsibility for mass mayhem.  America is not yet a socialist paradise, and those who come here do so fully warned.

The Character of the Two Tsarnaevs -- and the Notion of “I Can’t Believe…”

I am not so struck by the glowing testimonials from fellow teenagers and twenty-somethings about the two monstrous Tsarnaevs, to the effect that they seemed great guys. Such is the power of anecdote and emotion over reasoned empiricism in the young untrained mind.

The stranger fact is the adult media’s gullible reporting of these impressions as if they were somehow significant, as if superficial impression is the key to understanding an ideology that drives behavior. The following caricature reflects how one of the present therapeutic society might remark on the death of Adolf Hitler. “I don’t quite understand his violent side. He was a man who simply loved children -- certainly he fawned upon the Goebbels kids. He inquired about the health and welfare of his chauffer and valet, and no boss was more considerate of his secretaries. Hitler’s dogs were his pride and joy; I never saw a kinder and more gentler master. Eva Braun simply lit up at his presence. His conversations at dinner were witty, lively, and polite. He gave up almost everything for Germany. And while he seemed troubled at times, I always attributed it to the horrors of the trenches. None of us can quite judge him, or even know what it was like for a young man to be subject to what Hitler endured -- only to be unemployed, shamed, and ignored upon returning to a defeated Austria and Germany. It just makes no sense that such a seemingly kind person could commit such horrors. I still can’t quite believe it.”

Do we care whether a man who placed a bomb full of ball bearings next to an eight-year-old boy and blew apart dozens of innocents was nice to his peers? Let us at least hope that the killer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not to be known as “unduly influenced by his brother,” “fully American,” “coerced to become violent,” “brain-washed,” and “young and impressionable.”