In the wake of the tragedy in Boston there is a great deal of turmoil when it comes to searching for an explanation. Many people (media outlets and random citizens alike) looked for explanations and answers after Sandy Hook, Aurora and the Gabby Giffords shooter. Mental illness and bullying were to blame. And then came Boston. Two bombs planted by two brothers. White males, yes, but not American born and not Christians. And so the excuses came to a deafening halt. We don’t care how they were treated in high school, we don’t care if their brains were mis-wired. We care about where they traveled and what god they worshiped. And then the backlash against the backlash. Why do we seek to excuse white Christian American men, why do we look for reasons that they turned? Why do we blame anything and everything except for the person who did it? And now that it’s someone else, xenophobia rears her ugly head and we assume it’s because of who they are.
I want to speak to this. Not to the blaming of the Tsarnaev brothers but digging for answers for anyone else. What does it mean about US in the us-and-them of it?
It means that we know why other people want to kill us. Deep in our hearts we understand why people who aren’t like us want us dead. We’re vulgar, ostentatious, selfish and needlessly violent. We have too much and we’re too proud of it and we don’t appear to care about the rest of the world or other people’s suffering. We often don’t even care about the suffering within our own borders. I’m sure as immigrants the Tsarnaev brothers felt that. But Adam Lanza? James Holmes? Jared Lee Loughner? They didn’t. They had every advantage any human living in modern times could ask for. So yes, it is confounding when they do something like this.
Many of the comments about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were bigoted and racist, and that’s not fair. But it’s not unfair to question Holmes and Lanza and Loughner’s motives and backgrounds because they are different. They grew up differently, had different experiences, different friends and influencers than the Tsarnaevs. Like it or not, they were US. They experienced America the way most Americans do and that’s what’s so confounding.
So I think it’s okay to ask questions about them that are different from the Tsarnaevs. The Tsarnaevs were immigrants, who didn’t not fit into the American zeitgeist. Lanza, Holmes and Loughner had everything and STILL turned to senseless violence. Why?