Fear and Loathing in Boston

“An eye for an eye would only leave the whole world blind”.  (Mahatma Gandhi)

In the aftermath of the terrors at the April 15th, Patriot’s Day, Boston Marathon a colleague on a systemically oriented, professional forum, drew attention to a thoughtful piece written by Matthew Behrens, “The Cluster Bombs of Boston and Drone Strikes in Yemen”, (Rabble.ca 4/22/2013).  This subject is of particular interest to those of us interested in the relationships between single traumatic events and   larger fields of social trauma, as well as research indicating that violent responses at a government level often precede similar violence at a local level. In this case, it appears that a long fractal of violence from more than one government may be especially relevant in understanding the larger trans-generational context within which the Boston bombings were carried out.

Journalist David Remnick’s recent article, “The Culprits”,   in The New Yorker, shares a similar perspective as he looks into the background of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechen brothers accused of detonating bombs which resulted in three deaths with more than 170 others severely injured. His research indicated that generations of the Tsarnaev family had been battered by empire and strife, displacement, exile and emigration. Midway through the Second World War, during one of his notoriously paranoid fits of cruelty, Stalin declared   the Chechen people to be disloyal to the USSR. As a result, tens of thousands were banished, from their homeland in the Northern Caucasus, to Central Asia and the Siberian wastes. Many died from cold and starvation.  Surviving members of the Tsarnaev family settled in Kyrgyzstan for 13 years until Premier Khrushchev finally granted permission for them to return home, but some remained expatriates.

Most Chechens speak their own language, Noxchiin Mott, as well as thickly accented Russian. As Remnick notes, the Caucasus region is extremely multicultural, as I am also aware having done social trauma work with my Dagestani colleagues in Russia. I have written about these issues in my first book Relative Balance in an Unstable World. When the former Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, fiercely independent, nationalist rebels sought independence through two horrific wars with the Russian army resulting in massive trauma on both sides of the conflict. While the rebel cause was lost, the spirit of rebellion persists in Chechnya; through tactics including kidnapping, assassinations and bombing. Fundamentalist religion is now pervasive throughout the region where the slogan “global jihad” is endemic.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s father,  Anzor Tsarnaev emigrated to Boston about ten years ago along with his wife, their two sons and two daughters. It has been reported that this family occasionally attended a local mosque but were not known to be extremists. Yet, it seems that the boys never really connected with American culture and both retained a deep attachment to the values of their homeland.  (The New Yorker 3/29/13).  With Tamerlan dead during capture, the younger Dzhokhar reportedly confessed to the Boston bombing, as retaliation for events perpetrated by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here I am reminded of an observation that I made in A Question of Balance  as to the motives of the two, war related, Columbine killers  who had amassed an arsenal of over 50 homemade bombs…the bombing of children is likely to result in children who bomb…and the children of those children, and so on down the generations.

While we’re on the subject of context, it is also important to consider that this terrorist event took place in these United States of America which is itself, a very violent country; in thought, word and deed. Violence remained in the air, at least in our rhetoric, as Americans responded to news of the bombing at this popular sports event.  Politicians and other personalities reveled in tough talking blood lust and revenge-porn, advocating barbaric torture and public lynching. The satirical magazine, The Currant, joined the fray with a piece purporting to quote Sarah Palin’s call for revenge by invading the European, Czech Republic and burning their capital city of Prague. I find it telling that this all too familiar mixture of ignorance and provocation, spouted by right wing agitators, was widely received as authentic reportage. With the blending of mainstream news, fake news comedy shows, and so called Reality TV, more and more citizens are having difficulty sorting fact from fiction. This situation is further complicated by the fact that the Patriot’s Day bombing took place at a time when an already divided country is continuing to fracture over issues such as gun control, immigration, gender and  reproductive rights, to name just a few.

Distrust of politicians, government, law enforcement and corporate controlled media is at an all-time high. While the majority of mainline outlets carried the story of two Islamic terrorist acting alone, the alternative media focused upon widespread suspicions of an FBI orchestrated false flag event.  As is the case with so many of these tragic episodes, much of the initial coverage is derived from rumor, speculation and misinformation. While we are waiting for a more accurate picture to come into focus, we can also learn by observing what changes in national or international policies may come about as a result of this Boston Marathon bombing event.

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