The Blame Game
There have been some conflicts here about how to look at motives and the reasons behind the bombing in Boston. And I cringe when I read them, because so often the people going back and forth are missing what the other person is saying. And I think part of the problem is that we are sometimes afraid of being like the Right with their bigoted rushes to judgment.
When the bombings first occurred, there were a lot of people on our side of the political divide who were hoping the bombers weren’t Muslim. There were a lot on the other side that was hoping they weren’t white. Turns out they were both.
The reality is that their color may well have had nothing to do with their actions. Likewise, if they were of a darker hue, that skin color would have nothing to do with their actions. Actions like these are, for the most part, driven by one of three things: political ideology, religion or mental disorder. And it is not uncommon for it to be a combination of two or all three of these things.
So what does that mean as we go through the process with these two individuals or, in fact, examine any instances of terrorism be they bombings, shootings or whatever? And yes, I include Newtown and Aurora, and the bombing of abortion clinics or the assassination of a doctor that does abortions all to be acts of terrorism. And just as importantly, what doesn’t it mean?
For example, we know there have politically inspired acts of terrorism, including the shooting of the policemen in Pittsburgh or the attack at the Holocaust Museum. These were both done by people convinced the government was coming for their guns. And this type of thinking was inspired by right wing talk shows and even a few politicians. But there was also an element of mental imbalance involved that these people thought their actions were appropriate. And remember this point because it will come into play at the end.
When an abortion doctor is assassinated while he is attending a Christian church service, there is a combination of all three involved. Certainly, for many, abortion is a religious issue, particularly among conservative Christians and some Catholics. But it is also a political issue. The actual motivation could be both. But again, there has to be a mental imbalance which drives the actor to believe the action is appropriate.
In both the circumstances just described it is important to note that there is a background, whether right wing talk or Christian religious beliefs. Yet to say, therefore that conservative Republicanism or Christianity is to blame would be inappropriate. The vast majority of conservative Republicans or Christians would be disgusted by the actions taken, to some degree, in their names.
How does all this tie into the current discussion? Well, personally, I don’t believe you can take the religious element out of the equation. It is obvious that the older brother was extremely involved in a form or Islam that tended toward the radical. And I think the younger brother was caught up in that same element, probably deeply influenced by his brother. And, considering the Chechen element, there may well have been a political side to it as well. However, for them to perpetrate the acts they did, there almost definitely was that same type of mental imbalance that drove the killer of the police officers and Dr. Tiller’s assassin.
To imply that there was a religious element in the motivations of these young men is not, however, in any way, an indictment of Islam, as some tried to say earlier. Just like pointing out the Christian element in the abortion clinic bombings is not an indictment of Christianity.
To try to avoid the religious element is actually giving some degree of viability to those who make the opposite argument and are ready to condemn all Muslims just because of the actions of a few. Why be afraid to acknowledge that their religious viewpoints could have played a role? Not that it was the entire motivation, but simply that it could have been part of the equation.
The reality is that there are many people who want to play on the fact that some people do have a mental imbalance and will do things that they know will trigger these types of actions. And it is there that the blame truly belongs. It is the people who would be pulling the puppet’s strings that should be brought into the light.
This is true whether or not it is a Glenn Beck or a Muslim imam in England.
One final comment. I speak of mental imbalance. I do not say they have a mental illness, although some may. But what they experience in their minds is not necessarily something that could be detected during a mental evaluation. It could possibly be detected if someone does see a major change in behavior of an individual, but otherwise it will go unnoticed up until something actually happens.
My hope is that we do the best we can to counter those who try to use others to do their dirty work.