Evil isn't simple
During the last week, many tensely awaited word of who committed the atrocity, fearing the racist storm that might rain on America if the killers turned out to be brown-skinned, and/or Muslim. As Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra wrote in Terrorism has no race, culture or accent, the first of the many tweets in reaction to the twin bombings at the Boston marathon were: “Oh God, please, let it not be a Muslim”. And, “Please don’t be Arabs or Muslims”.
But the suspects answered one prayer and not the other: white and Muslim, possibly extremists, but their motives today still remain unclear.
Meanwhile, Boston police captured the younger Tsarnaev after a two day chase that so resembled an action movie thriller the lines between fiction and reality began to blur for me. I wanted to see proof the things I was reading about actually happened. So did the Tsarnaev parents and aunt.
Maret Tsarnaev spoke to reporters outside her home in Canada where she described everything as being “perfect” within the family, calling the boys’ father a “very loving, soft-hearted” man, among other things.
Did this have to happen?
What I found so eerie about the brothers Tsarnaev is that they didn't have the mentally ill, demented eyes of Gifford's shooter, or the warped expression of the Batman movie theatre murderer, or the monster-like look of the Newtown child murderer. Their pictures make them look normal, nice, and that's how their friends describe them.
On what is believed to be his twitter account, the younger brother tweets banalities about college, platitudes about morality, and even tweeted: "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing". This, less than a month before the bombings.
Screencap from Mother Jones
Explanations fall flat. Now we can't talk about mental illness. What we're seeing here is simply evil. But evil has never been simple.
Consider Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh was a politically motivated sociopath; his accomplice, Terry Nichols, was a banal loser. The Columbine killers followed a similar pattern. Eric Harris was almost purely evil; Dylan Klebold was a more complex character. (Dave Cullen’s “Columbine” is the definitive account.) The early indications suggest that the Tsarnaev brothers may have had a parallel relationship. Tamerlan, the deceased older brother, seems to have been deeply alienated from American society; Dzhokhar, a recent graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, gave few hints of what was to come. As yet, there is no indication that mental illness—which seems to have been a major factor in the mass murders in Newtown, Tucson, and Aurora—was a decisive factor here.
Between the defeat of gun control legislation in Washington and the attack on Boston, American society has to grapple with yet another windfall of impossibly difficult issues.
Who first coined the phrase, "Violence begets violence?"