Boxing Extremists

AP

The media has found the real cause of the Boston Marathon Bombing. It was not radical Islam. Oh no. That's silly and, if we're being honest with each other, a little offensive. I'm disappointed in you for even thinking such a thing. How dare you jump to conclusions like that?

No no, the real spark? The real evil that sent Tamerlan Tsarnaev down his deadly path? The New York Times has found the real killer. It was boxing:

It was a blow the immigrant boxer could not withstand: after capturing his second consecutive title as the Golden Gloves heavyweight champion of New England in 2010, Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev, 23, was barred from the national Tournament of Champions because he was not a United States citizen.

The cocksure fighter, a flamboyant dresser partial to white fur and snakeskin, had been looking forward to redeeming the loss he suffered the previous year in the first round, when the judges awarded his opponent the decision, drawing boos from spectators who considered Mr. Tsarnaev dominant.

Corrupt and inept judges have long been a problem in boxing. The very sanctity of the sport is frequently questioned because of shady rulings. But I had no idea how serious things were!

ThinkProgress has been on the case for the better part of a week, however, asking the important questions: Did Tamerlan turn to terror because he took one too many knocks on the noggin?

Could the amateur boxing career of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased suspect in last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, have had a role in the massacre? That’s a question leading brain researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine hope medical examiners look into when they perform an autopsy of the 26-year-old who was killed during a firefight with law enforcement officials early Friday morning. …

Media accounts have chronicled rapid behavioral changes Tsarnaev experienced in his early 20s, and most have attributed those changes to his renewed commitment to Islam. Finding religion led Tsarnaev to give up boxing, alcohol, and smoking, according to the accounts, and he also took a six-month trip to his native Russia, posted radical videos posted on YouTube, and lost the man who was reportedly his best friend in a grisly triple murder in 2011. These are all plausible factors that might help explain his motives, and they’re all worthy of investigation.

But the reasoning behind mass killings like the Marathon bombing, are complex and often hard to understand, and the deaths of the killers themselves during or after the attacks can leave us largely without answers. Knowing that, it’s worth exploring every angle, including the possibility that brain injuries and CTE may have compounded problems Tsarnaev was already experiencing.

Now, I'm obviously having a spot of fun here. Neither the Times nor ThinkProgress are suggesting that boxing literally drove him to murder (though the Times piece does suggest it played a pretty big role). But I do think it's worth noting just how much attention is being paid to Tamerlan's difficulties getting citizenship, his troubles in the ring, his failure to make friends while in America, et cetera. Something obviously drove him to jihad. Why would a practitioner of the faith of peace decide to take up arms just because of something he heard from a religious extremist? There has to be a reason, right? 

As Greg Gutfeld and friends said on Red Eye the other night, as long as we're tiptoeing around the real problem here—which is to say, religious extremism motivated by Islamist teaching—it's going to be hard to have a real discussion.