The Post reports on the Boston bombing suspects, one of whom is dead:
The brothers’ alleged motive in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 170, remains unknown, but their family appears to have immigrated from the Southern Russian republic of Chechnya, and two law enforcement officials said there is a “Chechen connection” to the bombings.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgystan, law enforcement authorities said. He has a Massachusetts driver’s license. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was born in Russia and became a legal U.S. resident in 2007.
So far the reports on multiple news outlets and from relatives and others who knew the brothers suggest they had been in the United States for about a decade. They were not loners, not Saudis, not white separatists, not mentally ill. The suspects have one thing in common with other terrorists — they are evil. No matter how we would like to place such killers in a defined category or group, the facts get in the way. There are evil people who do horrendous things. It would be nice to know we can limit the field of suspects for future incidents, but the face of evil is often banal.
The urge to find a limited category of suspects is akin to the urge to devise a specific policy response. More guns (for self defense). Less guns (even if bombs are homemade from pressure cookers). This dooms immigration! No, it points to the need for border security and identifying people who are here. (How many of the doctors, police, investigators, citizen heroes are immigrants?) You can go on endlessly, trying to define these people in the abstract and devise methods to eradicate the threat they pose. But the realization that evil can’t always be profiled, can’t always be shut down by a better law dawns slowly on people. It is far more comforting to imagine we can describe and eliminate the threat than to concede many different sorts of evil people, in many different guises, will attack an open and free society.
There are limited but critical truths we can rely on. We should not demonize law enforcement or national security as our enemies; they protect us, however imperfectly, from danger. We should not shut down, withdraw from the world, imagine “foreigners” are the problem. We suffer minor inconveniences to prevent great tragedies. We amply arm, empower and fund those who keep us safe. We try to bend our laws in ways to reduce mayhem, but we don’t distort our society in search of perfect safety. And there are virtuous people who rush to save and aid their victims.
As horrifying as this all is, I remain amazed and deeply grateful that in such a short time we’ve gotten one of these murderers and have a read on the other or others. When this finally concludes, we should see what we did right. We learned from 9/11, and our response and investigative abilities are infinitely improved. We will learn more and get more adept because, horribly, we know there will be other incidents.
Most important, let’s keep in mind the first obligation of government is to protect us from harm and to protect our freedoms. That can never be back-burnered. Ever.