All day today police have been on a manhunt in Boston. They are looking for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old who is a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing and who was involved in a shootout with police last night. Tsarnaev somehow eluded capture and is on the loose in the Boston area. His brother, also a suspect, was killed in the shootout.
The news stories today are all about these brothers, who came to the U.S., lived here, and somehow became radicalized to the point where they ruthlessly killed innocents without a second thought. I’m sure many people enjoyed hearing that the dead brother’s body was so riddled with bullet holes they couldn’t even be counted; there is still force to the notion of an eye for an eye and a thirst for outright vengeance.
But as Kish and I drove around Nashville today, listening to reporters interview people who knew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I found myself trying to choke back the bloodlust and hoping that the authorities can somehow catch him alive. The reports all speak of an immigrant who became assimilated in our culture, had American friends, was a star on the wrestling team, and because a citizen on September 11, 2012. What happened to this kid? How did he go from a wrestler who helped motivate his teammates to a cold-blooded killer who dropped off a backpack with a bomb loaded with shrapnel and designed to inflict as much death and damage as possible?
We can’t wait for terrorists to show up, commit their cowardly terrorist acts, and then try to kill them off. That strategy will never work in an open society like ours. Terrorists could go to any large American city and, on any given weekend, find countless events that could be the subject of a terrorist act. We need to figure out what causes someone like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to become a terrorist in the first place. We need to understand, and then we need to determine how to prevent terrorist radicalism from incubating in the hearts and souls of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs of the world . . . or we will never be safe.