Based on reactions across my Facebook newsfeed:
This situation is tragic, no doubt. And yes, Dzokhar Tsarnaev is a person, with a family and friends like any of the rest of us. And yes, we should disdain the xenophobia and jingoism that rears its head in situations like this, particularly against Muslims. I see many of my friends decrying the media’s use of the brothers’ religion to fearmonger and sensationalize this story, and rightfully so. And it is important that in the midst of crisis we are vigilant enough to not succumb to tribalistic bloodlust.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev was also a person who, if the charges likely brought against him are true, dropped a bomb into the middle of a crowd of civilians. Who allegedly shot police officers and endangered the lives of innocents with explosives and automatic weapons. Regardless of his race, national origin, or religious background, the acts he will be charged with committing are objectively, inherently evil. At least four people are dead, and many more permanently injured and traumatized because of their freely willed choice, as human beings, to kill other people.
Grief and cathartic joy are not two halves of an hourglass. Celebrating because an alleged murderer has been captured is a perfectly reasonable sentiment, especially for the communities and families in Watertown and Boston that have been directly affected by the bombings.
Lambasting every person who expresses happiness that Dzokhar is in custody as being jingoistic, Islamophobic trolls is not high-minded. It is not enlightened, it is not subtle, it is not right.
It is closed-minded, martyr-seeking rhetoric that is callously indifferent to the suffering of the people of the Boston area involved in this violence and their families.
Yes, challenge the media who started witch hunts for every brown face in the crowd at the marathon. Criticize a self-centered public that pays scarce attention to the suffering of its least. Hold accountable a government that tolerates the denial of fundamental rights to its own citizens.
But don’t turn up your nose in disdain when ordinary people celebrate the lifting of a cloud of danger from their community, nor assume that a nation’s empathy must be uniformly rooted in prejudice and bloodlust.
It’s a negative, ugly sentiment that reeks of condescension and, ultimately, accomplishes nothing except self-righteous onanism.