It was a blow the immigrant boxer could not withstand: after capturing his second consecutive title as the Golden Gloves heavyweight champion of New England in 2010, Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev, 23, was barred from the national Tournament of Champions because he was not a United States citizen.
A Battered Dream, Then a Violent Path, New York Times, April 27, 2013
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, Barry Rubin addresses The Truths About Terrorism Whose Names They Dare Not Speak. For example, he notes the above-quoted article in the New York Times, written in part by Deborah Sontag.
According to the article, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's turn to terrorism was due -- at least in part -- because he was blocked from the national Tournament of Champions since he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. The suggestion is that if only the US gave people citizenship more easily, there would not have been a terrorist attack.
What is missing from the article?
But aside from the it's failure to take into account Tamerlan Tsarnaev's background back home, the article neglects another aspect to the story that negates its premise:
Where to begin? The article includes a photo of the future terrorist as a baby in Dagestan with his parents and his uncle. His uncle is wearing a Russian army uniform. Now again in the photo he is a baby but the point might be raised: Isn’t Tamerlan Tsarnaev more a product of Russian than of U.S. conditions? After all, his family was involved in a conflict against the Russian state; he and his brother were largely shaped by that environment. He went back and forth to Russia and took instruction from terrorist groups which had arrived at al-Qaida from that basis.
But the authors cannot focus on this issue. Why not? Well, obviously they want to blame America first but also there is a big land mine there. Pointing out that immigrants—legal or otherwise—may bring with them hatred, grievances, and cultural formations inimical to America that makes a point in the immigration debate which would be the exact opposite of what they want.
A second point would be to stress the benefits that the Tsarnaev brothers and their family was given. Among them was welfare payments, a scholarship, acceptance without bias into American society, permissiveness even when they violated its tenets and laws (wife-beating), not doing anything to them despite suspicion of being potential terrorists (unlike what would have happened in Russia), and so on. Against that long list of things, the article had to focus on the one setback as they key to everything.Read the whole thing.
Here, too, however, the articles of the New York Times article cannot go. For to step into this territory would require considering the failure of a historic policy to assimilate immigrants that has been replaced by Multiculturalism; the abandonment of patriotism and the distaste for America and its society daily expressed by the citizens of Boston met by the Tsarnaev; and the idea of entitlement and the welfare state that pervaded their concept of America.
It is not just that the media's investigation into the personal life of terrorists tends to descend into just so much psychobabble. There is also the near distaste for patriotism and pride in one's country that these days passes itself off as objective, quality journalism.
Maybe the media should look into how that influences terrorism.
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