Saturday, April 20, 2013

Country Unites as Boston Bombings Suspect Captured

The city of Boston was in lockdown Friday.  Think about the herculean effort taken to get the people of a city of about 700,000 to shelter in place from the early hours of the morning until about dinner time.  America's 21st largest city at a complete standstill as law enforcement from all levels of government sought the second alleged terrorist was a sight never before seen.  It all played out on television, streamed online and in social media. It was riveting in the car crash kind of way - we couldn't look away.

The older of the two brothers believed to have carried out the terrorist bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon was killed in a gun battle with law enforcement very early Friday morning.  The younger brother escaped from the scene.  Not long after the last scheduled briefing from law enforcement late Friday afternoon, with them thinking the younger suspect had eluded them, a woman in Watertown - the location of an intense manhunt Friday - notified police that though her property had been screened by them, she noticed bloody clothing and it appeared that someone was under the canvas covering of the boat in her backyard.

It was the nineteen year old suspect.  He was taken into custody, wounded from the earlier gunfight, but alive.

Who were these two brothers?  They were refugees from Chechnya, arriving in America with their parents to begin a new life.  They became American citizens - resident legal aliens - and took the opportunities that our country has to offer.  They benefited from good schools, sports participation, jobs, and all that goes into normal everyday life.  
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 years old, became a successful Golden Gloves boxer. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, was a nursing student and became an American citizen just last year, on Sept. 11.

On Friday, details from their lives emerged through interviews with neighbors and relatives, and from their online activities. Acquaintances recalled the brothers as strong students and avid athletes. They left few clues suggesting they would be capable of the gruesome acts the police say they committed.But the patriarch of the family, a talented auto mechanic named Anzor Tsarnaev, struggled to make a living. Tamerlan, his eldest son, failed to make a career out of boxing, dropped out of community college for lack of money and struggled to find work.Living on public assistance in a multifamily house in Cambridge, the family began to fray, friends said. The parents separated. Anzor Tsarnaev returned to Russia, battling illness.Along the way, Tamerlan's attitude seemed to sour. "I like the USA," he told the Lowell Sun newspaper in 2004 while competing in a boxing tournament shortly after arriving in the U.S. "America has a lot of jobs." But a caption accompanying an online photo of him a few years later reads: "Originally from Chechnya, but living in the U.S. since five years…I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them."Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of the two brothers, told reporters outside his Maryland home Friday that his nephews were "losers" who were unable to settle into American life "and thereby just hating everyone who did." He said he didn't think there was an ideological motive. "This has nothing to do with Chechnya," he said. He also indicated there was a rift between him and his brothers. "It's personal," he said, "I didn't like them."
A common thread in liberal circles emerged immediately after the bombings Monday.  As the bombings in Boston took place, the smoke had barely cleared and the liberals across the country began speculating that it was those crazy Tea Party people or at the very least, some right-wing extremist anti-government conservative who executed the attack. Every corner of the liberal world predicted that would be the finding.  Whether it was NPR or Salon or network and cable news show panels, fingers were pointed.

No, it was not some deranged anti-tax whack job, as President Obama's pal David Axelrod alluded to in an interview with former Democrat operative now NBC News employee Chuck Todd. Axelrod said that of course President Obama must have thought about that.

A correspondent for NPR reminded that April was big for conservative people because it was Hitler's birthday.  I wish I was joking.  Sadly, I am not.

On the conservative side, the anti Muslim forces voiced assertions that it was al-Qaeda or another terrorist network at work.  The tragedy even brought out the conspiracy theorists convinced that the government was behind it all and covering up some ominous story not for public consumption.

The contrast was predictable - Fox News Channel was all about the al-Qaeda connection and CNN was all about the history of the month of April with terror attacks and anti-government bad actors.  Never the twain shall meet.

This whole tragedy brought to the surface lots of current hot button issues - immigration reform, entitlement reform, gun control legislation, religious prejudices, criminal charges or enemy combatant status, and media biases.  This article in Salon led the charge, for instance, that if the terrorists were not crazy right wing white males, the war hawks would demand more war, or something. And the Czech ambassador even felt the need to remind Americans of THIS :

“As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation,” he said.“As the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that,” Gandalovič concluded.
That's a bit embarrassing.

At the conclusion of the long, tense day, law enforcement all working together with the people of Boston and neighboring communities realized a very successful end.  The good feelings united everyone watching the events as they unfolded.  President Obama delivered remarks after the police and FBI held their news conferences.  It was a feel-good end to an intense day.

Not to be outdone, however, even local television stations felt the need to play into political divisions:

President Barack Obama united with Republicans on Saturday in condemning the violence that took place in Boston and praised the valor that ensued.In his weekly address, Obama argued the deadly Boston Marathon bombings, which he described as an "act of terror," will not be remembered for the damage it caused, but the "stories of heroism and kindness."In the GOP's weekly address, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina also praised first responders and others who rose to aid victims and search for the suspects."While the perpetrators of this act of terror hoped that they could shake the confidence of a city, they have instead only strengthened the resolve of our nation," he said.

Is it really newsworthy that everyone praises the success of the outcome?  Despite the ugliness shown on both sides of the political aisle, the terrorist attack united the country and that's a good thing.

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