***ADDED: What a non-shock to discover Remnick is able to summon more empathy and eloquence for terrorists accused of mass murder than he did for the ridiculously peaceful Tea Party. Story here. Original story below…
It is one thing to never forget, no matter the evil with which we are faced, our own humanity. It is quite another, however, and quite dangerous, to forget that we are dealing with evil. Such a thing not only invites more evil; worse still, it is a cruel slap in the face to the victims of evil.
And it was the victims I thought of as I read David Remnick’s Saturday New Yorker essay, a poorly timed and even shameful attempt to define evil by something other than evil.
Remnick’s thoughtlessness does not come from reporting on the background of the two men suspected of unspeakable acts, but in his attempt to ask us to sympathize with them as he defines them by their luxury problems:
Anzor’s elder son, Tamerlan, appeared never to connect fully with American life. “I don’t have a single American friend,” Tamerlan told a photographer named Johannes Hirn, who asked to take pictures of him training as a boxer. “I don’t understand them.”…
To see Dzhokhar’s name, to see his face. I think this had to do with his older brother. Unless he was some sort of sleeper agent, I think his brother had a pretty strong influence. Tamerlan maybe felt like he didn’t belong, and he might have brainwashed Dzhokhar into some radical view that twisted things in the Koran.” …
Dzhokhar’s Twitter feed–@J_tsar–is a bewildering combination of banality and disaffection. (He seems to have been tweeting even after the explosions at the finish line last Monday.) As you scan it, you encounter a young man’s thoughts: his jokes, his resentments, his prejudices, his faith, his desires.
March 14, 2012–a decade in america already, I want out …
The American dream wasn’t for everyone. What they could not anticipate was the abysmal fate of their sons, lives destroyed in a terror of their own making. The digital era allows no asylum from extremism, let alone from the toxic combination of high-minded zealotry and the curdled disappointments of young men. A decade in America already, I want out.
That is how Remnick closes his piece — quoting Dzokhar’s tweet: A decade in America already, I want out — which is a very writerly choice for Remnick to make. But it is about as thoughtless, obtuse, and clarifying as closing a piece on Adolph Hitler with, “all I ever wanted was to be an artist.”
Maybe Stalin took in stray cats and maybe Saddam Hussein slept with a stuffed rabbit. We know Lee Harvey Oswald and Timothy McVeigh felt out of place, and that Jeffrey Dahmer was lonely. And now we know that, like millions of American men their age, Tamerlan (26) and Dzohokhar (19) Tsarnaev had all kinds of crybaby problems.
Fill in the blanks all you want with those details, but shame on anyone who attempts to define evil by something other than the following…
Tamerlan and Dzohokhar Tsarnaev — the brothers suspected of placing and detonating two bombs in a dense crowd gathered to watch Monday’s Boston Marathon — both lived in America. In fact, both lived among the middle class in one of America’s greatest cities and enjoyed the education, leisure time, and social media luxuries that come with such a life.
In short, like so many in America, the Brothers Tsarnaev lived a life that many, both inside and outside of this country, would crawl over glass for.
Tamerlan and Dzohokhar not only emigrated with their family to the greatest and most prosperous country in the world; they also lived in a country that would feed, clothe, and educate them, but still not — and this is important — stop them if they chose to move to a place where they might not feel so isolated and out of place.
Despite what Remnick might have you believe, the two men suspected of mingling into a crowd filled with innocent children and finding that to be the perfect spot to place their deadly explosives, were neither victims of a sweeping history involving Stalin’s madness, nor lost souls in an America they couldn’t understand. No, they were men with almost limitless opportunities and choices — including the choice to return to the Motherland (as Tamerlan reportedly did.)
Instead, though, they apparently made another choice — to murder and maim as many innocents as they could, including 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, 29-year-old Krystie Campbell, 8-year-old Martin Richard, and Sean Collier, a 26-year-old police officer.
And after the success of a monstrous act that also maimed 170, the brothers reportedly made the choice… to party.
Unfortunately, Remnick’s piece is likely to set The Media Narrative around these suspects. Sadly but quite predictably — and with no apparent concern for the feelings of the victims — media elites are already using social media to gush over and viralize Remnick’s piece. And it should come as no surprise that the New York Times actually beat Remnick to the “poor widdle terrorist” punch yesterday.
Much of this is and will be motivated by the left’s bizarre desire to forever rationalize radical Islam. For some reason, Islamists are the only racist, sexist, homophobic theocrats the media can’t summon outrage against. I suspect it is also the result of industry-wide disappointment over the fact that the bad guys aren’t right-wingers. (Would Remnick have summoned such eloquence for the savage second coming of McVeigh? Would the media be gushing over it?)
So what we have here is the media still looking for a way to blame the most inviting and inclusive country in the world for not being inviting and inclusive enough.
Whatever the media’s motive, what we are seeing is moral illiteracy on steroids.
It is wrong and it is grotesque.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC