Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw strongly suggested Sunday that America is partly to blame for the gruesome terrorists attacks in Boston, because the young, Muslim men involved may have felt “alienated” and angry over U.S. drone strikes on “innocent civilians” in Muslim countries abroad.
Brokaw, who has been playing the role of media elder statesman since retiring, went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with host David Gregory to discuss last week’s Boston bombings, which killed three and injured 183.
“There are a couple of things to remember here, David, I think for all of us,” Brokaw intoned. “With the death of Osama bin Laden, Islamic rage did not go away. In fact, in some ways it’s more dangerous. This is a perfect example.”
He said Americans need to take a hard look at “the roots” of why so many Muslims, including Americanized terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, want to kill them.
“There’s a lot that we still need to know about what motivated them, obviously,” Brokaw said, noting the Muslim faith of both bombers. “And the fact is that that Islamic rage is still out there.”
Added Brokaw: “But I think that there’s something else that goes beyond the event that we’ve all been riveted by in the last week. We have to work a lot harder (to understand) a motivation here.
“What prompts a young man to come to this country and still feel alienated from it, to go back to Russia and do whatever he did? And I don’t think we’ve examined that enough,” he added. “I mean, there was 24/7 coverage on television, a lot of newspaper print and so on, but we have got to look at the roots of all of this, because it exists across the whole subcontinent and the Islamic world around the world.”
Finally Brokaw offered an explanation: “I think we also have to examine the use of drones that the United States is involved (in), and there are a lot of civilians who are innocently killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
“And I can tell you having spent a lot of time over there, young people will come up to me on the streets and say we love America,” he continued, “(but) if you harm one hair on the head of my sister, I will fight you forever. And there is this enormous rage against what they see in that part of the world as a presumptuousness of the United States.”
The explanation resembled that of President Obama’s preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, on the Sunday after the 9/11 attacks: “America’s chickens are coming home to roost!”
Appearing on Tuesday’s “NBC Today” the day following the terrorist attacks on Boston, Brokaw warned his media colleagues against premature speculation regarding the motivation behind the simultaneous bombings, which had the hallmarks of an organized Islamic terrorist attack.
“I think everybody has to take a deep breath,” he cautioned, “report what we know.”
Brokaw is often hailed as a politically neutral and patriotic journalist. He is, however, a self-described Democrat who in 2008 referred to Obama’s inauguration as a “velvet revolution” and equated him to Jesus Christ, while comparing GOP running-mate Sarah Palin to Pontius Pilate.
In a recent National Press Club speech, moreover, he lamented the rise of the conservative press on the Internet and talk radio.
“There now is in too many quarters of commentary a tyranny of the right,” he complained.
Brokaw also believes that the media has an “obligation” to advocate on behalf of liberal causes.
Journalists should “represent the views of those who are underrepresented in the social context or the political context and to make sure that they’re not overlooked and that their wrongs get the bright light of journalistic sunshine,” he said in a recent interview with the Columbia Journalism Review.
He complained that conservative cable networks, radio stations and bloggers are “instantly jingoistic and savagely critical of any questions raised about the decisions leading up to, for example, the war in Iraq.”
Brokaw even compared them to jihadists: “They suffocate vigorous discourse, the oxygen of a system such as ours, by identifying those who refuse to conform and encouraging a kind of e-mail or telephonic jihad, which is happily carried out by well-funded organizations operating under the guise of promoting fair press coverage.”