In search of what made Dzhokhar tick: Why did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev do the things he apparently did?
We can’t tell you that. But we were surprised by the lack of imagination from Digby. She posted a set of speculations by Michael Shaw.
The list of speculations strikes us as weirdly limited:
SHAW (7/18/13): Rather than write off these people as evil and “other,” what distinguishes us as a civilized society is the attempt to understand who and why...I mean, why did someone as personable as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev go over to the dark side? Is it such an act of humanity just to realize it’s not a one-word answer, especially if that word is “Islam?” Is there no relevance to the implosion of the Tsarnaev family, that crazy hostile mother and the residual weight of Jahar’s relationship with his terror of a brother? (Before dispensing with the cover as completely gratuitous, by the way, it’s worth noting it does legitimately exploit the sympathy Jahar engendering on the lam based on speculation he might have been under his brother’s power.)Shaw asks this: “Why did someone as personable as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev go over to the dark side?” He lists several speculations—and fails to include the explanation Dzhokhar himself has provided.
Everyone reported the explanation when it appeared! Scott Pelley spoke with John Miller on the CBS Evening News:
PELLEY (5/16/13): One month after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, we have learned more about the motive from the sole surviving suspect. You’ll recall that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding in a boat the night that he was captured. Well, it turns out while he was in there, it appears he was doing some writing. John Miller broke this story for us today and he’s here now with details. John.In our view, it would be very stupid to do what he apparently did for the reasons he seems to have stated. Then too, a bunch of young homegrown Americans engaged in violence in reaction to the war in Vietnam.
MILLER: This was inside the boat. He was hiding. There was no piece of paper. So apparently thinking he was going to die—remember, multiple gunshot wounds, he was bleeding—he began to write on the wall inside the cabin that he knew his brother Tamerlan was dead, that he did not mourn his brother, that his brother was now a martyr on the way to paradise, that he expected he would soon join him, that the bombings were in retribution for U.S. actions against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the victims at the Boston marathon were collateral damage in that war like so many others that were hurt in the battlefields overseas, that if you attacked one Muslim, you attack all Muslims. So it was a bit of a manifesto.
PELLEY: Written at the moment that he believed he could very well be dying.
MILLER: That’s right.
PELLEY: Retaliation for Iraq and Afghanistan?
In our view, that was very stupid too. But young people sometimes do things which are extremely stupid. In 1997,one of those young people, all grown up, was honored as Chicago’s “citizen of the year.”
At some sites, people are very brave with a widely-approved tribal script. Such people are bold in groups.
Even those people are too afraid to list what Dzhokhar actually wrote as one of the possible explanations for the things he did.