Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mysterious Motive Cover-Up on the Boston Attack Begins

By Barry Rubin

Now that the two (main at least) terrorists from the Boston Marathon attack have been killed or captured we enter a new phase, the phase in which the dominant Politically Correct (but Factually Incorrect) forces try to explain away the attack.

Can this be done? Will they really try? Well, yes. True, as one of my correspondents remarked it is much easier to obfuscate far distant Benghazi than the total shutdown and horror in the middle of a major American city. Yet the spin-masters are already at work.

The first step must be, in part, a stalling technique but it sets the pattern for what is to come.  As, in the words of a Reuters story, the “Boston Marathon bombing investigation turns to motive,” the motive must be obfuscated.

The Reuters piece is a good start. The article spends seven paragraphs discussing the parents' claim that the two brothers were framed. This suggests that the mass media and politicians will not shrink from suggesting—perhaps I should say, gives fair hearing—to bizarre conspiracy theories and doubts. People shouldn’t believe these completely, is the theme, but you just can’t be too sure that two young Muslims would have any reason to harm Americans.

Indeed, there are now witnesses who heard the two terrorists’ mother claiming that September 11 was a U.S. plot to make people hate Muslims. That's where playing with that kind of fire leads.

In the article, the word "Islam" is not mentioned, except to say that they once lived in one predominantly Muslim country and another place they lived, Dagestan, is "a southern Russian province that lies at the heart of a violent Islamist insurgency." Here, we have another technique, minimize Islam as a factor and turn it into background noise.

Obviously, this will not apply completely both because the elephant in the room is too big and there is still some journalistic integrity in places. Both the Washington Post and Mother Jones took a lead in exposing the You-Tube likes of one of the terrorists which showed a propensity for al-Qaida views to say the least.

There are a lot of other quivers, however, in the arsenal of denial.

On “Face the Nation” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said that he had no idea why the Tsarnaev brothers would target "innocent men, women and children in the way that these two fellows did." The answer, of course, is that these people were not regarded as innocent at all but as soldiers in the alleged Christian-Jewish war on Islam, precisely the same thinking that has been produced by Islamists for decades. Might September 11, 2001, be a clue here?

Of course, for Patrick to say that at this point in the investigation is understandable on one level, a refusal by a government official to remark on an ongoing investigation and a relief from “the police are stupid” or “Trayvon looks like the son I didn’t have” remarks by someone else. Yet what if this claim is sustained week after week until the heat is off?

NBC News has just reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited an Islamist radical six times in a mosque in Dagestan. The Caucasian/Chechen angle, however, does offer some hope for obfuscation. A lot of media time can be spent talking about that conflict. [Christian Science Monitor, it isn't Islam but a Chechen tribal code of honor.] Of course, if the young men were acting as Chechens they would have attacked a Russian and not an American target. The United States has not, even by the usual stretch of radical Islamist imagination, had anything to do with the conflict in Chechnya.

The more compelling the conflict there is as a source of pain and passion, the less compelling the argument that that was a motive. The Russians have indeed been brutal in suppressing the rebellion, far more than the West or Israel has acted toward anyone. So what cause overrides that one? Yet Chechen grievances will be a good source of obfuscation.

Then there will a frantic search for the “blame ourselves” theme. If the issue wasn’t such a tragic one, this would be humorous. Could America have acted more kindly toward these two brothers? Don’t underestimate how well this theme will play with those citizens who drink other flavors of Kool-Aid.

In this pursuit no idiocy is unthinkable. Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, who is trying to be an Obama clone, explained:

“There is no question that this happened because of someone who feels completely excluded, someone who feels completely at war…with society.”

The solution, then, is not to “marginalize people even further who already feel like they are enemies of society rather than people who have hope for the future.”

In other words, doing anything is more dangerous than doing nothing. To combat radical Islam is to hurt people’s feelings and that will produce more terrorism.

Actually, the brotherly duo and their family was treated extraordinarily well by the country they betrayed. They were allowed in (rather questionably) as permanent residents and suddenly large numbers of relatives were in the United States as well (so much for draconian immigration laws); one of the brothers became a citizen. They went to the best schools. What did they learn there about the greatness of America? Was the seed of rage fertilized by the demonization of American history as evil, greedy, racist, and imperialist? One of them even got a scholarship.
It is vital to understand the profound difference between these two and the September 11 hijackers, men who came on a mission of sabotage and murder. They reached the U.S. shore as enemies, reliable agents of revolutionary retribution.

These two young men, however, had a free choice. They had to actively close their minds to everything good they experienced and to adopt an ideology of hate. Only a very powerful force could move them in that direction. We have seen this frequently in the United Kingdom and France.

Guess what? If such comparisons were to be made it would have to be acknowledged that there is a second-generation (though strictly speaking these two were first generation) time bomb implanted. That means one can expect many more attacks like this. But will anyone make that point?

Their normality will be used to make them seem…normal, their motive inexplicable. But on the contrary it is their very apparent normality, their seeming assimilation into American life, which makes the situation so scary.

Of course, a key argument is that Islam has nothing to do with this and that Islamism isn't directly behind it. A new theme that is being used by a lot of people in conversation is this one: “Muslims view ‘Islamic’ terrorists the same way Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.”  

Here is a positive evaluation of this quote which explains that the idea that there is much support among Muslims for terrorism comes merely "from the Vast Right Wing Echo Chamber" but then changes the argument to say that the claim is that the Boston terrorists "are representative of all Muslims everywhere. It's a ridiculous double standard." In other words, the terrorists in Boston and everywhere else don't represent much of anything but themselves. As I recall, the Westboro Baptist Church doesn't govern ten countries. You don't want to be a right-wing nut, do you? Then don't say that the Boston attack arose from an ideology of Islamism, linking it to thousands of other such attacks around the world.

But guess what? American Muslims do not agree that support for terrorism is minimal in their community. In 2011, 21 percent of all American Muslims and a higher number, 32 percent, of U.S.-born Muslims think there is a great deal or fair amount of support for terrorism among them. Why is the number of U.S.-born Muslims who believe this so much higher? Because they tend to be  younger people who are more in contact with social media and people like the two young Boston bombers. 

What about the Boston terrorists' mosque and other contacts in the Muslim community? Why didn’t they get an anti-extremist indoctrination there, an explanation of what Islam is all about?  They attended a Muslim Brotherhood sponsored mosque (but that won’t be said) and the Boston Muslim religious leadership is full of extremists (the evidence of which has long been available). The mosque even received a subsidy from Boston even as it hosted anti-American speakers who made the precise arguments used to rationalize terrorism.

We won’t be hearing much about these issues though.  Well, except for two aspects: the story is now circulating that one of the brothers was thrown out of his mosque for being too radical. Then, there are all the denunciations of the terror attack by Islamist front groups. The New York Times article on motive cited these statements three times. I believe that groups like CAIR do not support the Boston attack or al-Qaida. But they support many other terrorist attacks and they support the ideology and set of beliefs on which the Boston attack is based. That's why so many associated with CAIR, even on a senior level, have become involved in anti-American terrorism.

Having followed this issue for many years, I have never heard of a single anti-radicalization program conducted by any mosque or “mainstream” Islamic group. Real moderates are isolated, vilified, denied media attention, and even forced out of local mosques. In a 2011 Pew poll fully half of American Muslims say their leaders aren’t doing enough to fight extremism. That last point can safely be used as a certified non-“Islamophobic” argument about where much of the problem lies. But it won’t be.

And of course there is the troubled youth angle to be played to the fullest. Yes, the tribulations of young adulthood and adolescence are factors. But only inasmuch as it makes them vulnerable to systematic indoctrination. In other words, their specific psychology and even personal experiences are not the motive any more than the childhood of a professional hit-man for the Mafia is.

It is also possible to fall back on the idea that the motive is impossible or irrelevant. There's just too much stuff out there, dude. Or in the words of Brian Levin, director of the center for the study of hate and extremism at California State University, "The individual, particular motivations of the perpetrators have little significance since there are multiple grievances out there and, in the Islamic world, there is free-floating angst." This was too much for even Bill Maher.

Another angle will be the growing story of governmental incompetence in using intelligence to stop terrorists. In part, this is unfair since there have also been many successes. A more important issue is why government officials, politicians, army officers, academics, and journalists fear to point out the truth. Look at the Nidal Hassan/Fort Hood case. Doing so is bad for their careers and reputation, as well as being sometimes counter to their ideology.

Then there is the partisan argument, as made most memorably by a journalist who openly hoped the terrorists would be white right-wingers. There is an unnoticed dimension here. If the attack is seen as a political defeat it cannot be a learning experience. The question isn’t, Does this attack tell us something important about the real world, but: How can we explain it away so we don’t suffer losses in the effort to fundamentally transform America into a just, non-racist society?

And so it can be claimed that, in a sense, white right-wingers, or at least the kind of policies they would endorse, did cause the Boston attack. America was mean to these kids; it is aggressive in other countries, counter-terrorist protection was reduced by budget cuts.

In other words, lying, concealing, and misleading become defined as virtuous. As Trudeau said, talking honestly about revolutionary Islamism would be to inspire more racism and terrorism.

Finally, there is a “full admission” fallback argument on which U.S. foreign policy is based. Sure it was those evil SOBs at al-Qaida. That’s why other Islamists are relatively good. That’s why we have to promote them into power since only they can counter the “bad” Islamists. That’s why Islamist governments in Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey are good for you.

Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry in Turkey compared Americans’ feelings about the Boston attack to Turkish feelings about the killing of jihadis engaged in supporting a terrorist group (Hamas) who attacked Israeli soldiers during the Gaza flotilla incident. This should not be seen merely as a clumsy statement but as dangerous and revealing stupidity.

It is dangerous because it tells Muslims that they are equally the victims of “our” terrorism; and it is revealing because the context shows the equation of all violence, no matter what the cause, that reinforces such thinking. A U.S. attack on terrorists in Yemen, Afghanistan, or elsewhere then becomes anti-Muslim violence that justifies the next terror attack in an American city.

Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw explained that American drones were killing innocent people and this led to rage against the “presumptuousness of the United States.”

In an honest discussion it must be considered what U.S. policy factors lead to terrorism. But now there is the transfer to America of the old “cycle of violence” argument about the Middle East. Terrorists murder Israeli civilians or fire rockets at Israel; Israel defends itself and the two events are treated as indistinguishable.
Defending yourself offends people.

The proper response is to denounce the terrorists, the ideology of terrorism, and proclaim the right of focused self-defense, which means doing everything possible to retaliate against those responsible and not citizens of another country chosen at random.

The American secretary of state, a leading Canadian politician, journalists, and others are thus rationalizing in advance more such attacks. They will get their “wish” and then explain away the next event as more proof for their worldview.

This article is published on PJMedia.

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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His next book, Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East, written with Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, will be published by Yale University Press in January 2014. His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, also published by Yale. Thirteen of his books can be read and downloaded for free at the website of the GLORIA Center including The Arab States and the Palestine ConflictThe Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East and The Truth About Syria. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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