As of 6:35 am on Friday April the 19th, we know that the Boston Marathon bombings are the work of two Chechen brothers. The eldest was killed by Boston police in the wee hours this morning, with the youngest, one Dzhokhar Tsarnaez, 19 still at large. We know little if anything about their motivation. We know nothing about whether this was meant as some political statement, or just the work of two homesick kids longing to recreate life back in their beloved Chechnya. You remember Chechnya, right? That troubled district of the old Soviet Union which fought and won a bloody war with Moscow in the early 90’s for independence, then fought and lost another war ten years later. The Chechens were known for their ruthless tactics and seemingly self-destructive tendencies, willing to take ten blows in order to deliver one. Oh, and the population of Chechnya is 90% Sunni Muslim, so there’s that.
So, other than the fact that his name would make one heck of play in Words With Friends, we know nothing about this boy. But knowing nothing is very different than saying nothing. The one thing that the Boston tragedy has taught me is that modern journalism means never having to say you’re sorry. A news network can now make any claim they wish, and no matter how spectacularly wrong they turn out to be, nobody loses their job. Fog of war and all I suppose. In this they are assisted mightily by the internet, which in the first ten minutes after the first explosion had already posited a thousand theories about the motivation of the bombers since it was obviously the work of redneck Tea Party militia groups pissed off about tax day. Or maybe it was illegal Mexican immigrants who had flooded over our porous southern border, taking a break from becoming registered Democrats, or perhaps just your garden variety Islamic terrorist trying to bring back the glory days of the 5th century. No matter what the truth turned out to be, the narrative had already been written and published.
But, I never saw the prediction that it would end up being a couple of Chechen brothers, which just goes to show you that life is full of surprises. There will always be an aggrieved group somewhere flying under the radar waiting for their big chance to inflict carnage on free people. So, now we can expect a series of editorials from the New York Times…”The Chechens. Why Do They Hate Us?” Our policemen will be warned not to engage in Chechen profiling. Incidents of violence against Chechen-Americans will become epidemic. Some Congressman will call for a boycott of all imported Chechen products only to discover that Chechnya exports nothing…but Chechens. Noam Chomsky will publish a pamphlet entitled, “America’s Shameful History of Chechnya-Hatred”.
Meet the new threat. Same as the old threat.