Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the horrific Boston Marathon explosions has been apprehended. Presumably, we can take a break from round-the-clock coverage of the chase that has consumed the nation. Less than 24 hours ago, no one had heard of the Tsarnaev brothers. That’s almost literally true: even their uncle had not heard from them in years. Now they are macabre celebrities whose every online trace is being analyzed for any clue as to what might have led them to commit such atrocities.
The breathless analysis of the 24-hour news media continues to offer theories and half-baked motivations even when the basic facts have not been yet gathered.
Here are ten basic points that we would all do well to keep in mind as we try to make sense of a world that seems to be in need of sanity and compassion.
1) Those who know the suspects best say that this had nothing to do with being Chechen, or with Islam.
Ruslan Tsarni, the suspects’ uncles, went to meet the national media, and gave a powerful, honest, and passionate presentation. He encouraged his nephew, Dzhokhar, to turn himself in. He also called his own nephews “losers,” and stated that this atrocity had nothing to do with being Chechen or Islam. Tsarni spoke powerfully about his love for America, and how silly it is to associate this crime with an ethnicity or religion. Tsarni also encouraged Dzhokhar to beg his victims for forgiveness.
2) The experts you see on TV opining on Chechnya and the Chechen people do not know anything about Chechnya.
Chechnya is a fairly remote region. There are few people on TV with actual expertise about Chechnya. Most of these “instant experts” go to Wikipedia to get their information. Because of the 24-hour news media, we now have created a cult of instant experts who need to be able to fill the airways now about Iraq, now about Afghanistan, now about Chechnya, without necessarily having set foot on these places, knowing their languages, their history, or spoken with their peoples. Complex geo-political realities are collapsed into cliché tropes of “jihad” and “terrorism.” The late Edward Said made this same point 30 years ago for the first time. It is even more true today with social media and the fake experts paraded on Fox and elsewhere.
Read more: http://omidsafi.religionnews.com/2013/04/20/10-essential-points/