Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Acts of Terror

In legal lingo, media laziness, search-engine optimization, thoughtless patterns on April 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I’ve been watching Boston all day. I know it’s not healthy, but I have a loved one in the lockdown and haven’t found a reason to walk away from the tube. I thought I was on one of the more responsible cable channels, MS-NBC, whose pundits shared in the well-earned ridicule of CNN for jumping to conclusions and spreading false rumors on Monday. But I’m becoming incensed by their position on the bandwagon misunderstanding — beginning Monday when they made a big deal of whether President Obama had used the words — that an act of terror must be committed by international, politically or religiously driven “terrorists.”

There’s a legal charge of “making terroristic threats.” It doesn’t require threatening more than one person, let alone having any such connections to other terrorists or terroristic movements. Terrorism is about the emotions it provokes in its victims, and yes, it tends to affect more people than the terrorist may have intended.

In the marathon-bombing case, especially as the suspects are found to be ethnically connected to a group with a gripe against a whole other nation, the pundits, even on MS-NBC, are barrelling down a number of roads that may be totally irrelevant. More than once I’ve seen a map thrown up with the city of Sheremetevka, Russia, flagged “Tamerlan visited …” and showing its proximity to Chechnya. At the same time, I’ve heard reporters acknowledging they don’t know where the elder suspect brother may have spent his six weeks in Russia, and that US records of his travel show only that he flew to Moscow. That makes me terribly suspicious of the map, since I recall that Moscow’s main airport is called “Sheremetyevo.” The city with the similar name is apparently 372 km from there.

So, as the anchors keep asking the “experts,” “what could have been their motivation?” It wasn’t until after 4PM that I learned Tamerlan was married to an American woman and had a child, that he was unemployed and had delved into religion only after his Golden Gloves career ended. Could the answer to motive be as simple as a feeling of emasculation and frustration? Where are his wife and child now? Did he know anyone in the marathon? Had he worked in any of the damaged businesses? Greater minds have been unhinged by such experiences.

The terrorists’ father, who reportedly went home to Russia to die of a brain tumor, has indicated he understood Tamerlan was a famous US national boxing champion, Dzhokhar a second-year medical student at 19. This is also little surprise. Fathers want to think their sons have achieved great things. His misunderstanding and disillusionment is no proof of anything else, and we should leave the poor man alone.

All of this only adds to my hope that young Dzokhar will be captured alive. If not, the “Chechen connection” will no doubt go down in history, and we’ll have a whole new category of neighbors to fear. The pundits will continue to “explain” how they think and why they hate us.

We can’t help our feelings of terror. We can help whether names like Tsarnaev, Lanza, Holmes, Loughner, … become merged into some inhuman hate-o-sphere, or remain recognized and mourned as our neighbors who were pushed or pulled over the brink by some very human sadness that we would rather not face. We are more vulnerable to such sadness than to any act of terror.

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