It is, of course, required that I now state that Tsarnaev is evil. I suppose he is — evil being the word we use when we cannot comprehend the crime. He killed and he maimed, taking lives and ruining others for many years to come. There is no way he can ever make amends, and the truth is if he dies, he will not be missed — not by me, at any rate.
But his death, as one of his victims has already said, is not going to change anything. “It’s not going to change what happened,” said Lee Ann Yanni, 32, one of those wounded that day. “I really don’t think there is a right or wrong in this situation. It’s not going to bring anybody back.” It is, however, going to perpetuate the death penalty, which is on its way out in much of the world and even the United States. We don’t even know anymore how to execute someone — witness the prolonged and allegedly agonizing death of Dennis McGuire, who recently took over 20 minutes to die.
Amazingly enough, the decision by Holder was announced a week or so after he reiterated his personal opposition to the death penalty. How he’s reconciled his personal views with his public policies I cannot know — and, I bet, neither can he.
Was he following orders from the boss? That would only be President Obama, because that’s the only one he reports to.
Was he reluctant to overrule his subordinates, especially the U.S. attorney in Boston? They might have pushed for the death penalty. If so, he ought to reconsider why he is the AG and not them. He’s where the buck stops.
Or was he reluctant to stand up against charges that he is soft on terrorism? Undoubtedly, some in the Republican Party would say that — some Democrats, too, I suppose — but this is just an updated version of “soft on communism” — an opportunity for some politicians to take a cheap shot and others to show that political cowardice never goes out of style.