April 29 2013

Rewriting the Thoroughly Thuggish Tsarnaevs

Charlotte Hays

The media’s incredible and willful blindness about the Boston Marathon bombers is best captured by Iowahawk, who writes:  

"When I tweeted [Guy sends 268 people to the hospital, and the NY Times want to rewrite him as the new Holden Caulfield. #BomberInTheRye] last night, it was in response to the Times' bizarre stream of 'poor little misfit alienated immigrant teen' profile puff-pieces. It was (as satire is suppose to be) an intentional exaggeration meant to make a point. As God is my witness, I swear I had no idea they would ACTUALLY LIKEN HIM TO HOLDEN CAULFIELD."

I assumed Iowahawk was joking but checked to be sure. He wasn't joking. The New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani really did find a “Holden Cauldfield-like adolescent alienation” in some of the tweets of the younger bomber. Ms. Kakatuni's front-page piece was headlined “Unraveling Brothers Online Lives, Connecting the Dots from Banal and Funny to Darkly Ominous.”

Here is a chilling snippet from a tweet, an apparent reference to the victims of the bombing:

Lol those people are cooked

The headline on Ms. Kakutani's piece suggests that the bombers were normal, pop-culture-loving kids who just somehow “unraveled.”

What is unraveling is the mainstream media's preferred narrative of these two death-dealing thugs.

If you read the piece Marc Fisher penned yesterday for the Washington Post, you come away with a sense of disconnect. This entry into the Holden Cauldfield genre pioneered by Ms. Kakutani bears this headline: “The Tsarnaev Family: A Faded Portrait of an Immigrant’s American Dream.” The story was reported by a whole passel of reporters, including one in Dagestan,  and yet none of the team unearthed a shred of convincing evidence that the family Tsarnaev came to the U.S. with high hopes that were soured. But that didn’t stop Fischer from writing this lead:

America, the golden door, had already welcomed two of his brothers when Anzor Tsarnaev crossed the ocean with his family in 2002.

Fisher portrays the family as “driven more by the quest for a good living than by religious devotion.” But he backs this up only in the case of Uncle Ruslan, who does seem to have done well in the United States and who has denounced the bombers. He didn't live with the terrorist family and was indeed estranged from them.

Let me offer a counter narrative: the bombers and their parents were thugs from the get go. They came to the United States for a breather from the ills of their native land, a stay made sweeter by generosity of the taxpayer. The Boston Herald had already reported that the Tsarnaevs were receiving welfare, and Fischer drops it in that the Tsarnaevs also got Section 8 housing vouchers for a while.

Along with the lilting prose about how the Tsarnaev brothers “took to their new home with gusto,” Fisher reveals, despite himself, a pretty awful bunch of people. The mother “was accused” of shoplifting (clothes from a Lord & Taylor reportedly valued at nearly $2,000, a figure omitted from the Fisher piece).

The family was a “neighborhood nuisance,” according to one neighbor. The cocky boys threw loud parties to which the police were called. The older boy had a record of domestic  violence.  The father tried to steal items for his car repair business and liked to throw trash in his neighbors’ recycling bins (you’d think Washington Post reporters would at least be horrified by this!).

The younger boy was a dedicated pot head—which seems to be presented as evidence of what a nice all-American kid he was!

If the press can’t come to terms with what the Tsarnaev brothers were after their act of terrorism, we should not be surprised that nobody recognized that the brothers were dangerous before the Boston bombing.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman.

 

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