As the pundits mull and chew over the background of the two Boston bombers, the younger one now captured, their range of theories have spread far and wide. They may be Chechen Terrorists, taking their grudge match with the Russkies to our shores now. They are radical Islamic crazies, probably with some yet unknown ties to al Qaida.
I have an even simpler hypothesis: they were losers (as their Uncle Ruslan noted) who were overtaken by hyper-Macho bravado. My hypothesis, which I will elaborate on in this post, names the older bro, Tamerlan, as the one most infected who then managed to bully Dzhokhar ('Jo-Kar') to follow him into perdition and infamy- likely by insulting his manhood.
So how did this happen? From the stream of news yesterday, we learn Tamerlan arrived in the U.S. from Kyrgyzstan sometime in 2005. He got married, had a child and then saw hell making friends and keeping a job. As some commentators have noted, one of his oft-proclaimed sayings was “I can’t make any American friends!”
Of course, cultural differences may have been operating, and let’s face it, it’s much more difficult to integrate into a foreign culture at the age of 18, 19 or 20 than it is at the age of 8 -when his brother Dzhokhar arrived. Not surprisingly, Dzhokhar appeared to integrate well, attending American public high schools as he made many friends – a number of whom described him as a ‘great, friendly guy’ on yesterday’s ‘Good Morning America’. They also noted how he apparently won a scholarship at his high school.
Getting back to ‘Tammy’:
In 2011, he traveled to Russia where he remained for six months. We don’t yet know the details of his stay there, who he contacted or what was discussed. But there’s a good bet he may have met with radical Chechens who turned him towards a violent outlook and possible mayhem as an alternative to being emasculated (in his mind) as an unemployed, stay-at- home dad. Now, are some Chechens radical Islamists? Yesssss…..but not all are, and let’s bear in mind the Chechen independence battles have been going on for more than 300 years. My point is that we mustn’t let possible tenuous Islamic connections distract us in interpreting the Tsarnaev brothers deeds. So we do not want to inflate them, as the Right Wing media have already displayed a penchant to do, see e.g.
Clearly, the Right has a bug up its ass and likely also a boner to turn this into another frothing Benghazi investigation.
So, ‘Tammy’ returns to the U.S. after his Russian 6-month sojourn and feels pumped, more manly and determined to make a stand to confirm his masculine bona fides. In his disturbed mind, what better way to do it than a quasi-terror attack? However, he wants to recruit his younger brother since he doesn’t want to be later designated as a “lone wolf”. To him, the term is dismissive and reduces his macho stature. Much better to be in league with another conspirator and who better than Dzhokhar, 7 years his junior? Besides, the “limp wristed” little wuss needed to grow up and be a MAN! He’d been coddled and pussified in the American cocoon his whole life, now was the time to man up!
Tammy envisaged the putative attack conceived in his febrile brain as a way to ensure the younger brother’s coming of age. Also, a way to eradicate some of his latent Americanization .
When the plan is first bruited, Dzhokhar would have expressed shock and objected strenuously. “WHY ME? I’m a second year med student! I have a scholarship! I’m happy!”
Tammy: “Tough shit! What are you, a sissy or a MAN? Our Chechnya is being plundered and you want to stay in your little girlie cocoon? It is time to MAN up, you little faggot!”
And so, not wanting to disappoint ‘Tammy’, Dzhokhar agrees to whatever fell plan is being laid. He cringes as Tammy explains the pressure cooker and pipe bombs they will build, wondering why this extreme is needed to prove manhood. Why must so many people be harmed?
Tammy is resolute: “It just has to be! This way we will get our names in the lights and be seen as MEN! Besides, we are fighting for Chechnya, little brother! You DO remember Chechnya, don't you?”
Is this too far out? Not at all. The commission of mass mayhem, as a passage to "manhood", is a long standing meme. It accounts for why many schizoid personalities, sociopaths and other dysfunctionals use it to hyperbolically claim what they can't otherwise, i.e. in more normal settings. Insecure within themselves, they associate violence and physical brutality with manhood....which is also why so many American youth rush to join the military if the warmongers sound the notes of "patriotism" and "becoming a man" at the same time. Join the Peace Corps as a viable option? "Not on yer life! I wanna be a man and carry a big gun! " Well, ok, just don't step on any mines or get in the way of IEDs! You'll really be tested waiting for that first disability check!
The Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, in their diaries (including video), wailed and wrung hands for many months about how “balless” and “submissive” they felt being picked on by all the jocks at their High School. They conceived of a mass killing – which originally included bombs – to reclaim their stolen masculinity from the football jocks. They got their "manhood" all right - and it lasted all of maybe 3 hours. Now, they're dead and buried with it.
Twisted? Foolish? Nutso? All the above!
In the case of the 2 Boston bombers, two losers – one defined by an inability to assimilate into American society or make friends- coerced his more amicable younger sibling into his nefarious plans by exploiting male insecurity. It's an age-old tactic that works on everything from getting an ordinary punk kid (minus even any whiskers to shave) to join the Marines, to getting ordinary street kids and toughs to join a gang like the Crips or Bloods.
Major terrorists and part of some extended “Islamic” cell based in Chechnya? Doubtful! More like two-bit punks who resolved in the most pathetic and tragic way possible to spread fear, gain a brief notoriety and in so doing….grasp what they believed to be the touchstones of masculinity.
They were too browbeaten, brain-damaged or brainwashed to grasp that true masculinity doesn’t reside in how many people you kill, beat with bottles or baseball bats, or how long one spends fooling around with guns and bombs, but in how much one cares for and about others.
Many theories will be spun about these two characters in the days ahead, including the best way to get ‘JoKar’ to talk, but I don’t believe even if they water board him he’ll have much to say. In many respects, he went along for the ride, believing if he did so he’d impress brother Tamerlan and also show him he was as much a man as he was.