In the days following the Boston Marathon bombing, progressive hearts fluttered in the hope the bomber would prove to be another Timothy McVeigh. It’s been 18 years since McVeigh famously blew up a rental truck full of ammonium nitrate at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. That crime, for which McVeigh was executed in 2001, allowed the Clinton Administration and anti-gunners in general to change the subject from the Waco, Texas, Branch Davidian fiasco to the supposed danger of “angry white men.”
A variety of left-wing commentators openly hoped for another McVeigh, and you can be sure that if the bomber had been a white American, the Marathon bombing would have been blamed on gun owners in general and Wayne LaPierre in particular.
The suspects, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev—who was killed in a shootout with police in the early morning hours of April 19—and 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—who was captured later that evening—are a pair of Chechen brothers who were living in Boston. Chechnya is a republic in the Caucasus whose primary religion is Islam.
Its small size and remoteness belie the continuing problem it has been for Russia since the time of Lermontov and Tolstoy. The Chechens were the boldest and most effective fighters against the Russian Empire, for which they were punished with a savagery unusual even by Russian standards. Chechen terrorism has tormented the Vladimir Putin regime, and Chechen fighters have turned up in various conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq.
Why would Chechens, whose age-old enemy is Russia, plant bombs in Boston? We may never know, but one way or another, this wasn’t a crime committed by a bunch of NRA members. That our opponents find that a disappointment says a lot about the sorry state of political discourse these days.
Once again, Americans have been killed and maimed by foreigners. That’s plenty bad. That there are those who wish the criminal had been one of us makes it even worse. That sort of thinking eventually leads somewhere; to Croat vs. Serb, to Shia vs. Sunni, to Hutu vs. Tutsi. Is that where we have to go? Do we have to dehumanize our opponents until they become enemies to be destroyed? Have we actually reached the point where we hope a horrendous crime can be blamed on those with whom we disagree?
The America into which I was born more than 60 years ago was a nation whose motto, E Pluribus, Unum, melded diversity with cohesion. We now have diversity, in its most minute increments, celebrated all day long, but the cohesion seems to have gone out the window. We need to find a way to get it back, or the Boston Marathon bombing will be just the start.