April 22, 2013

The Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Ambulance Shot: In this Day and Age, America Brings a Terrorist in Alive???

If there wasn’t much written about it, it seemed clear to me that the city of Boston and Boston PD took quite a bit of pride (not to mention, enormous effort) in capturing the junior Tsarnaev alive. Emphasizing that action was just the symbolism of extricating him from that sarcophagus of a boat. If the photo beside the vessel with his shirt hiked up was ubiquitous, I actually had to stumble upon this AP video screen shot taken moments later. And why did I almost miss it completely?

Given the US snuff policy (we could be talking about al-Alwaki and his family, Christopher Dorner, bin Laden, or the relentless — and maybe even Marathon bombing-related — toll of drone hits in Pakistan, etc.) what a clear if unspoken example emanating from Boston. It was if this city, so identified with America’s founding spirit and formation of laws, was determined to do whatever it took to weed out one city resident — dare I say, “one of its own”? — from its rich multiethnic tapestry.

Against the internet chatter about what a Seal team or the NYPD would have done, Boston seemed determined to do this a different way. Because of that aura, I was surprised to hear on Sunday how seriously wounded Dzhokhar was. But then, why should I have been surprised at all with big time law enforcement and the nation’s political hands immediately digging in their fingers? And by now, what is the purpose of “suspect #2”, the potential “enemy combatant,” earning any medical status at all?

If there is another dimension to this Patriot Day’s grief, it’s how hard it is too care about terror and justice (or should I say, “terror justice”) in America anymore. As a result, props to AP for publishing this picture. But much more so, credit to Boston. Credit to Boston for caring about bringing Dzhokhar in alive and sustaining such unimportant and un-American aims and values as honoring “innocent until proven guilt”; defying the post 9/11-vengeance instinct; seeing what we could learn (the younger and older brothers as distinct from each another); and trying to really go for the “why” this time.

I expect nothing less than full throated criticism for saying this, but it’s for our own sake, our own humanity, to not only capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev alive but to understand any and every way he might have deserved rescuing too.

(photo: Robert Ray/AP. caption: This still frame from video shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance after he was captured in Watertown, Mass., Friday, April 19, 2013. A 19-year-old college student wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings was taken into custody Friday evening after a manhunt that left the city virtually paralyzed and his older brother and accomplice dead.)

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Michael Shaw
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