Two questions regarding the Boston bombers

As an outside observer to the intense discussion under way concerning the Boston bombers, two questions keep coming up.

1. In searching for a reason, the genuine puzzlement seems to conceal a massive blind spot. I have seen radical Islam, the dreadful Russian government, the fierce independence of Chechens, dislocation in the USA … Studiously avoided is any self-examination: how are we to blame?

2. To follow on: now that the brothers seem to have been Muslim, they can be slotted into a convenient string of successful and foiled ‘terrorist’ attacks. But why are they not part of the sickening pattern of ‘domestic’ massacres that happen with banal regularity? Sandy Hook is the name of only the most well known recent one. After all, were not the Boston bombers long-time residents of the USA? Enough time to notice how one expresses a grievance.


14 thoughts on “Two questions regarding the Boston bombers

  1. Right. And what plays a central role here is the dominant U.S. policy of “toleration”, which necessarily perpetuates the making of ethnic, religious, racial, and national differences.

      1. Yeah, that would be the blatant version of tolerance today. The old anti-Vietnam bumper sticker used to be: “Join the Army! Meet Interesting People! Then Kill Them!”

        A good example of religious tolerance and understanding from the U.S. army during their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is “the mobile Mullah” (information provided by Julian Assange & co):

        “Another effective tool used by [US Navy Task Force 31, Psychological Operations] is the “mobile mullah.” [Task Force 31] currently uses one Pashtun malowi (district religious leader) and one Tajik mullah (local religious leader). These religious leaders are held in the highest regard among the Afghan people, making them extremely influential. Their words are considered to be the words of Allah … The differing tribal affiliations of the malowi and mullah add to their credibility, especially when trying to encourage Afghans to end their tribal fighting in support of a peaceful nation. Having these two religious leaders work hand in hand with [Coalition Forces] and [Afghan National Security Forces] counters the [Anti-Coalition Militias] message that [Coalition Forces] are there to take Islam away from the Afghan people.”
        – US Special Forces Southern Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Handbook 2006: 35

        The more subtle version of tolerance, as Wendy Brown surveys in Regulating Aversion, is no less committed to maintaining existing definitions of difference under the guise of openness, choice, and understanding – all values of the market in late capitalism.

      2. Such genuine insight in that handbook! But you have really just shifted this to a somewhat unrelated blog post you would have liked to have written, since your itchy blogging fingers have few outlets at the moment. Have you tried patches?

        My simple point is that the massacres like Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook (and many more) are of the same ilk as the Boston bombs, or even the MD letting loose on his fellow soldiers somewhere in Texas. The younger of the Boston bombers is US citizen as well.

      3. Patches? Even better. I’ve found something called Critical Research in Religion, which is presently allowing release for my spermatic spluttering pen.

      4. Trying to follow along with this interesting discussion; Deane do you have any solutions that might explain further where you feel our current policies are failing?

  2. Roland, I think the classifications used in this last passage from an article in the New Yorker say it all:

    “When we find out who did this, we may well find some fascination with the event—perhaps a foreign terrorist, or a sick American. Perhaps it was someone who spotted a terribly easy target. Or perhaps it was someone who saw a reflection of the human spirit and decided just to try to shatter it.” (

    Now the question is how do they classify someone who has the elements of a “terrorist” (i.e. a Muslim) and the meets the requirements of being a “sick” American (i.e. an American citizen).

    Ah yes, you turn them into enemies of the “human spirit,” which, as we all know, Americans are our foremost representatives. And voila, using the bombing as a time for critical self-reflection about, as you point out, the frequent acts of domestic violence committed by people probably more easily classified as sick Americans, makes you an enemy of the human spirit as well.

  3. 1. “Studiously avoided is any self-examination: how are we to blame?”

    Now you’re being cute. Toss a rock in any direction and you’re bound to hit the “we are to blame” game, one whose “self-examination” is embarrassingly disingenuous as it always points the finger at others. Self-righteousness is one of its more ugly features. By the way, Pat Robertson has the “we are to blame” schtick down pat… you know, the “we deserve the calamities that are visited upon us because of our collect sin.”

    2. “But why are they not part of the sickening pattern of ‘domestic’ massacres that happen with banal regularity? Sandy Hook is the name of only the most well known recent one.”

    Indeed, and here the lack of serious self-examination of one of our most insipid sacred cows (guns) reveals such insane hypocrisy. Nevertheless, the Oklahoma City bombing is perhaps more in line with the Boston bombing than Sandy Hook, with the Boston bombing death toll miniscule by comparison. Timothy McVeigh – a Gulf War veteran – didn’t fare too well if I remember correctly.

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