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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing: Why? Why? Why? Good, Evil, and How We Speak

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev places his Boston Marathon bomb near  eight-year-old Martin Richard.
Martin Richard receives First Holy Communion 

The Boston Marathon Bombing: Why?

Why did a nineteen year old do this?

Why would boys raised in America, one with an American wife or girlfriend, and an American daughter, murder innocent civilians with a bomb?

The answer is painfully obvious. They did it because they thought it was the right thing to do.

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev murdered innocent civilians, including Martin Richard, an eight year old boy who stood right in front of Dzhokhar even as he planted his bomb, because they thought it was the right thing to do.

Let that sink in. They thought it was the right thing to do.

How to respond?

We can start by communicating clearly that jihad is not the right thing to do.

We can start by communicating clearly that there is a better path.

Western Civilization achieved through representational government is better than a caliphate achieved through jihad. Civility and community are better than violence and chaos. If war becomes necessary, Just War, according to principles laid out by Augustine. By all means war should be avoided, and change should be brought about through non-violent resistance, civil disobedience, according to principles laid out by Jesus Christ, Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

To communicate this, we would have to drop an element of cultural relativism. We would have to say, some ways are better than others. We have to be willing to say that some actions are good, and some actions are evil.

"No, no, you can't use the word 'evil'!" some insist. They say that you can't use the word "evil" to talk about two young men choosing to blow up innocent civilians.

I think that that culturally relative insistence that we can't call evil actions evil is part of the problem.

Why did they do this? Because they thought it was right. Someone saying, "This is wrong" is the first barrier to bombings. Someone saying "Bombing is wrong; civilization is right," and saying that with all the passion and conviction that jihadists marshal, is the first barrier to bombings.

At some point in their process, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar may have questioned within themselves if blowing up innocent civilians in the name of jihad was the right thing to do.

Did a teacher, a friend, a newspaper editorial writer, communicate clearly to them that it was the wrong thing to do? Did a teacher, a friend, a newspaper editorial writer make the case for Western Civilization?

Or did their teachers just insist to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar how corrupt, how flawed, how imperfect America and her citizens are? Did they communicate that America deserves to be remade through violence; did they communicate that violence makes the world a better place, did they communicate that a few dead Americans was a small, a just price to pay?

We don't know. We know that there are articulate, emphatic and unapologetic voices speaking for jihad.

Let us resolve to be articulate, emphatic, and unapologetic voices against evil, and for good.


  1. Good post. One of the reasons I can't do the New Age thing is their refusal to acknowledge evil as evil. Instead, they use the term, "negative" to denote what they don't "prefer" and it is a wishy-washy, subjective designation. Just another bit of narcissism. Your calling things what they are is why I fell in love with your blog when I read the book review of the "New Age" NDE (I forget her name).
    But, note the use of language we will hear. What they did is evil because it hurt others - they can't bring themselves to acknowledge evil as evil in its own right regardless of how if affects. I try not to listen anymore.

    1. Gordon, thank you so much for your note, above. It means a great deal to me. I caught a lot of flak for criticizing Anita Moorjani's book. I'm glad the review worked for you.