Sympathy for the Devil

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance (AP)

Shot, from the Boston Globe‘s Kevin Cullen:

Get out the violins, because you’re about to read and hear all these stories about how poor Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s troubles had to do with the repression of the Chechens, and the hard nomadic life ethnic Chechens were forced to endure in the shambolic collapse of the Soviet Union.

Spare me.

Chaser, from the New Yorker‘s David Remnick:

In the midst of the Second World War, Joseph Stalin, seized by one of his historic fits of paranoia and cruelty, declared the Chechen people disloyal to the U.S.S.R. and banished them from their homeland in the northern Caucasus to Central Asia and the Siberian wastes. Tens of thousands of Chechens, along with members of other small ethnic groups from the Caucasus and the Crimean Peninsula, died in the mass deportation or soon after—some from cold, some from starvation. The Tsarnaev family eventually settled in a town called Tokmok, in Kyrgyzstan, not far from the capital, Bishkek. Most who survived the next thirteen years in exile were permitted to return home, in the late fifties, under Nikita Khrushchev, and they reëstablished a sense of place as well as identity. Some remained expatriates. …

The Tsarnaev family had been battered by history before—by empire and the strife of displacement, by exile and emigration. Asylum in a bright new land proved little comfort. When Anzor fell sick, a few years ago, he resolved to return to the Caucasus; he could not imagine dying in America. He had travelled halfway around the world from the harrowed land of his ancestors, but something had drawn him back. The American dream wasn’t for everyone. What they could not anticipate was the abysmal fate of their sons, lives destroyed in a terror of their own making. The digital era allows no asylum from extremism, let alone from the toxic combination of high-minded zealotry and the curdled disappointments of young men. A decade in America already, I want out.