Friday, April 19, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: A Wounded Animal

"I did know Jahar. In the 4 years of high school I spent with him, he was nothing but a kind, unassuming, gentle person. He was funny, had lots of friends, and was very athletic. I haven't spoken with him since high school (we graduated in the same class from Cambridge Rindge & Latin)."
Another acquaintance said she knew Dzhokhar from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. She said he had a group of "maybe four or five" Russian-speaking friends whom he was never without. "All I really knew of them was that they smoked weed and liked to party, just like regular kids. Jahar was such a sweetheart."

--From the Internet

So how does a kid who enjoyed his friends, seemed engaged, had success in school wind up fashioning a bomb which blows the legs off people, robbing a 7 Eleven, shooting a policeman to death, throwing bombs at police?

Of course, Mad Dog wondered whether or not the police could have been wrong about the role these two brothers played in the bombing. Showing them walking down the street carrying backpacks hardly proves they had bombs in those back packs. But if they really did throw bombs at police, were caught on surveillance robbing a 7 Eleven, were identified by the man whose car they hijacked, sounds like a case which might get an indictment out of a grand jury.

Assuming for the moment the police got the right guys, Mad Dog asks:  How do you go from being  a kid who is embraced by his friends to a maniac who is alienated enough to kill wantonly?

They interviewed a man in Watertown who said he was happy the kid had been captured alive because he wants to hear him answer a lot of questions.

Mad Dog is not sure the answers will actually provide much insight. But if he were dead, there would be zero chance for answers.

It is hard to work up much sympathy for the person who blew legs off people, but the image of this 19 year old crawling off to die in the backyard boat of some Watertown citizen does strike even the cold black heart of Mad Dog as sad.  A wounded animal is always pretty pathetic. Once they are defanged, no longer a threat and just dragging themselves off to find a hole, it is not the same.

Mad Dog knows the obvious question is coming: Would you have felt that way if there were footage of Hitler dragging a leg behind him, off to his bunker?  And the answer is: No. Mad Dog would be unmoved.

 But a 19 year old kid, who not long ago was a "sweetheart."  Makes you wonder. 


  1. Mad Dog,
    I was glad to see that you didn't feel, like some, that dragging him into the square and riddling him with bullets or blowing him up would somehow give this event a happier ending... Once again, when you looked at the photos of the two brothers the most remarkable thing was how unremarkable they appeared. They really didn't look like monsters to match their monstrous act. Although I believe I was as horrified as most by Monday-we went to the Marathon for years and would bring the kids-yesterday was very disturbing and sad. I was glad and relieved he was caught, but I wasn't jubilant, nothing about this merited that.
    I have the same question, what turns a seemingly well adjusted college student into a killer that can place a bomb next to an eight year old eating ice cream. I agree that him being taken alive at least gives us the potential to learn why, as well as the names of any other accomplices but that won't change the years of pain and hardship facing the victims and their families. There's nothing good to come from this except maybe the example set by law enforcement and the medical professionals who more than rose to the occasion.

    Another thing that kept bothering me yesterday was how much power to create havoc one injured nineteen year old terrorist could have on so many people and that we were broadcasting that fact around the world. I'm certain that somewhere around the globe some sick individual found that "fame" and impact very appealing. The coverage in some ways bordered on a recruitment video for future terrorists. Perhaps law enforcement had no choice about the coverage in order to alert the public about the potential danger, I just think there will be a price to pay for it. ...From Boston, to the gun control loss, the explosion in Texas-I can't remember the last time I was so glad to see a week end....

  2. Maud,

    As usual you create the most indelible image: A bomb next to an eight year old eating ice cream.
    We always look for meaning.
    It's hard to resist that impulse. But the strep bacteria, the anthrax, the hepatitis and rabies viruses have no meaning, just a will and a capacity.

    Mad Dog