Making the point that the Tsarnaev brothers’ Muslim faith at the moment bears little relevance to the investigation into the brothers’ decision to attack the Boston Marathon last week, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry observed that Tsarnaev’s faith is about as relevant to the investigation right now as are Ben Affleck movies about violent events in Boston. Her panel guests agreed and added that Americans have to “otherize” violent actors in order to absolve themselves from responsibility for or connection to their violence.
“We don’t really know,” said Harris-Perry, throwing her hands up about the discussion into the Tsarnaev’s motives. “The younger brother, he’s getting all kinds of tweets from his friends. I think part of the answer is that it’s still an open question.”
“They don’t have the privilege of being anonymous – ‘they,’ speaking of people of color or other minorities – we don’t know yet, but we fill in the blanks,” said Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. “We fill in the blanks with what makes us feel the most comfortable that this was an exceptional, extraordinary case that happened because they are this.”
“I keep wondering: is it possible that there would ever be a discussion like, ‘oh, this is because of Ben Affleck and the connection between Boston and movies about violence?’” Harris-Perry asked. “And, of course, the answer is ‘no.’”
“Given that they’re Chechen, given that they are literally Caucasian, our very sense of connection to them is this framed up notion of, like, Islam making them into something that is non-[unintelligible],” Harris-Perry continued.
“The point is that it’s important to say, ‘that is not us,” Dyson agreed. “We want to demonize the other. We have to distance it from the dominant culture.”
First of all, how can someone be “alienated” and at the same time have lots of friends? The younger Tsarnaev even went to a party on Wednesday night. While there is evidence the older Tsarnaev was alienated from his family, the same evidence indicates it was due to his religious extremism. So which came first, the Chechen or the egg?
The references to the Tsarnaev brothers’ race are very telling. This may come as a surprise to Melissa Harris-Perry and her ilk, but all white people are not part of the same club. The people classified as “white” (or “caucasian”) include numerous different countries, languages, religions, cultures and ideologies. Some of the people in those different categories consider each other mortal enemies.
Terrorism is a tactic that is not exclusive to any one group, but some groups are more closely associated with some types of terrorist acts than others. The Tsarnaev brothers belong to one group commonly associated with terrorist bombings. They are/were Muslims.
It ain’t rocket science.
BTW – The Tsarnaev brothers lived in one of the bluest parts of one of the bluest states in the country. If there was something about the dominant culture that made them go bad, wouldn’t that be the “blue” culture?