The Boston Bombers’ Ethnicity Opportunity

Before the identification of the bombing suspects, the country seemed to hold its breath, waiting on news of the suspects’ identity – their ethnicity, in particular.

This tension probably has risen out of recent tragic events when some members of the political left had quickly and wrongly characterized the killers as right wing fanatics. Since it takes a while for background information on suspects to emerge, that accusation hangs in the air for the duration, going viral across left wing networks.

In 2011, after the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, congresswoman from Arizona, someone reported that the shooter read right wing literature – ergo, right wing philosophy was to blame. It turned out the killer included “The Communist Manifesto” among his favorite books. His reading was simply diverse. As was his politics. He admired Che Guevara and President Obama. But his thinking, according to his teachers, fellow students and friends, was vague and confused and couldn’t be categorized.

In 2012, shortly after the movie theater massacre in Colorado during the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises”, a reporter at the ABC network news connected the killer, James Holmes, to the right wing Tea Party movement. The network later had to apologize for confusing the names of two different people. One James Holmes was indeed involved in with the Tea Party. But he wasn’t the killer. The killer was described by one acquaintance as being staunchly liberal.

See the pattern?

It used to be considered bad behavior to make political points during the mourning period following a national tragedy. But that’s no longer the case. It’s as if today’s guiding principle were the one expounded by Emmanuel Rahm, former Chief of Staff to President Obama – “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Very quickly after the Boston bombing and before the identification of the suspects, many in the news media speculated that, in addition to the possibility of a foreign terrorist, the bomber could be a right winger who decided to protest Tax Day – April 15th – the last day that federal income tax filings can be submitted. (Many on the political Right have frequently attributed this thought to President Obama himself, though I can’t find any confirmation of that.) A web article at compiled many of these on-air speculations1.

The logic behind their accusation comes from the right wings distaste for higher taxes. The analysts envisioned a rabid anti-tax denizen moved to protest in this vicious and callous manner. It was an elusive straw to snatch at, however, since no protest of this sort has ever occurred on April 15.

Interestingly, these same analysts don’t manage to conceive of an equally rabid left wing protestor, and mention that possibility on the air.

So it’s a simple inversion of that logic that explains the political Right’s hopes that the bomber would be another Arab or Pakistani or similarly tinged jihadist – just because It deflects the accusative hosing by the Left of the Right.

If the bomber turned out to be a white American converted to Moslem extremism, it would be awkward – producing mixed feelings on both sides. But it would have effectively been a draw.
However, not everyone was thinking that way. During the period of uncertainty, another explanation for the Left’s hopes were expressed by liberal political commentator David Sirota. He wrote that he hoped the bomber would turn out to be a white American because if he isn’t, there will be a large white backlash – leading to rights abuses at home, and wars overseas. It’s a sentiment that speaks to liberal concerns. At least, it has a more thought-out ring to it than the right wing nut theory.

Of course, few days later, the speculative outcomes collapsed as the identification was made and revealed to the public. And the answer favored the Right. The bomber duo weren’t home-grown anti-tax protesters inspired by Ayn Rand. They were two foreign immigrants. Not from the Middle East or Pakistan, but from Chechnya. Both were Moslem. While they weren’t dark skinned, the brothers bore a strong resemblance to their Moslem cousins elsewhere in the world. And they seemed to have been influenced, and perhaps trained by Al-Qaeda, if only by video.

The Right breathed a sigh of relief. But they seemed strangely reticent to make an issue out of the fact that at least one had professed support for Obama.

The left took it in stride, putting away their divisive accusations for another day. But it’s ironic that the Left wouldn’t hesitate to generalize an ugly act of a single right wing individual, painting the entire group. If that group were a minority race, the left would hesitate to do the same thing – racism being a major no-no.

Even though the suspects were not white Americans, we have yet to see Sirota’s predictions come to pass. His concerns about a new foreign war seem undermined by the fact that Chechnya is already engaged in a struggle with Russia. As for his other concern, we have yet to see an ethnic cleansing of Chechnians in this country. And it’s very unlikely.

Fact is, there are still many Arabic, Pakistani or other Moslems still freely roaming American streets. This can explained by the country’s collective guilt over the incarceration of a large portion of the Japanese immigrant and Japanese American population during World War II. The shame of the wholesale uprooting of a people from their homes for no justifiable reason except that they were of a different race has resonated down the years. Today, that memory serves to remind us that many Moslems are innocent too. And must be treated that way.

So, even though Moslems may feel as if they’re being treated with suspicion (and a few are being watched by federal agencies), they remain free. What’s more, whereas none of the Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans are known to have betrayed the US – Moslem Americans know – as does the entire population of the US, including those news analysts – that there are individuals among them who hope to commit acts like the Boston bombings.

1, “Obama Insider Attempts To Link Boston Bombing To ‘Tax Day’”,

photo credit: Lαin via photopin cc

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