The Harvard Socialists’ forum speakers mimicked this narrative, beginning their discussion by declaring how “unsurprising” it was that the suspects “were white.” Their smugness over this fact was at best incomplete; their comments came about one hour after the photos of the Tsarnaev brothers were released, but prior to the public learning that they were in fact, Islamic jihadis.
Compare the dramatic accusation in the New Yorker’s “The Saudi Marathon Man,” that the suspicion of initial person of interest Abdul Rahman Alharbi, a Saudi national, was racially motivated with the remarkably similar points made by Sofia Arias of the International Socialists at the Harvard forum. From the New Yorker:
…according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled him,” bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.
What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?
And at Harvard “Revolutionary” Socialists forum, Arias' points out the same, failing to acknowledge the race to judge the suspects as white is itself racist:
For a city which is, you know has a very deep racist history… the marathon isn’t just international, it’s it’s [sic] a profoundly internationalist uh, uh, uh, uh, I think celebration and uh of of [sic] humanities capabilities.
And, I think to see that, uh, uh, uhm, you know, the attack was was [sic] horrific, but at the same time for muslims and for Arabs, the fear is two fold, because you know this is just the beginning and you have to hold your breath, and you dreading the onslaught of racism that’s coming down the pipeline. Because you know you don’t have enough time to fully process and mourn and grieve, because you know that the blame is going to be leveled on you.
Tom Brokaw chimed in with his own presumptions as to what was behind the attack, speculating, "I think we also have to examine the use of drones that the United States is involved in and--and there are a lot of civilians who are innocently killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq.”