In the last two weeks, the American media introduced a surprisingly fresh theme: anti-colonialism and anti-Americanism are bad things.
These, after all, were the kind of ideas espoused by child-killer Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“He mentioned about how in the war of Afghanistan and Iraq, most casualties are innocent people gunned down by American soldiers,” said one acquaintance of Tamerlan. “He said America was a colonial power trying to take over the Middle East and Africa.”
Upon hearing this, the watcher of TV news was expected to be shocked and appalled. How could someone raised in America think such things?
“He said the Quran spoke more of the truth then the Bible,” another friend reported of Tamerlan. “He said the Bible was used as an excuse to invade other countries.” More shock, more outrage.
As to where the Tsarnaevs absorbed these horrible ideas, Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Russian republic of Chechnya, had a good idea. “They grew up in the USA,” he said. “Their viewpoints and beliefs were formed there. You must look for the roots of [their] evil in America.”
The chattering classes did not want to hear this. They refused to entertain the idea that the roots of the Tsarnaevs’ rage were to be found somewhere other than Chechnya or in a rogue subversive mosque.
In all the news I watched that week, and it was a lot, no one ventured the idea that the boys absorbed their rage in the very ether of Cambridge, Mass., their adopted hometown.
They may have even picked it up in their high school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin, a school that has produced homegrown anti-colonialists like the wannabe subversive actor Matt Damon.
In 2010, Damon starred in “Green Zone,” a film set in Iraq. Kyle Smith of the New York Post described the film as “one of the most egregiously anti-American movies ever released by a major studio,” and he was being charitable.
“It’s one thing to make a fantasy film laced with snarky jibes at the United States and its military,” Smith continued. “It’s of another order entirely for an American studio (Universal, a unit of GE) to perpetrate, during an ongoing war, such vicious anti-American lies disguised as cheap entertainment.”
One wonders what the Tsarnaev brothers learned from “Green Zone.” One wonders too what they learned from their Cambridge neighbor, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.
In July 2009, the reader will recall, Cambridge police officer James Crowley responded to a call that two black men were trying to break into the back door of a Cambridge residence.
This was, in fact, true. Gates had cleverly locked himself out. When Crowley politely attempted to confirm that Gates was the homeowner as claimed, he was repeatedly denounced as a racist. Outside, Gates shouted over and over, ‘This is what happens to black men in America.”
I imagine the Tsarnaevs sympathized. Certainly President Barack Obama did. “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that,” said Obama at a press conference.
“But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”
Obama’s later apologies were pure politics. “I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side,” he wrote in his 1995 memoir “Dreams from My Father.”
When the powerless, presumably people like Gates, strike back, the powerful respond with “a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware.”
By equating Chicago with the Third World, Obama endorsed the link between racism and colonialism, the presumed motive for America’s involvement in Vietnam.
Later in “Dreams,” Obama makes this point more explicitly when he talks about righteous insurrections in “Soweto or Detroit or the Mekong Delta.” For the left, racism at home parallels colonialism abroad, one or both of which must inevitably underwrite the American adventure.
It is not a stretch to imagine Obama and the Tsarnaevs palling around together if he had been their age. He wrote in “Dreams,” “I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.”
With his new friends, Obama discussed “neocolonialism, Franz (sic) Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy” and flaunted his alienation. The literary influences Obama cited include radical anti-imperialists like Fanon and Malcolm X, communists like Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and Stalin-loving fellow travelers like W.E.B. DuBois.
In “Dreams,” Obama gave no suggestion that this reading was in any way problematic or a mere phase in his development. He moved on to no new school, embraced no new worldview.
At least five of the authors he cited – Wright, Fanon, Hughes, Malcolm X and James Baldwin – his terrorist pal Bill Ayers cited in his writings as well.
You see, from Obama’s perspective, bombing and killing did not disqualify a fellow anti-colonial warrior from his friendship. Like the Tsarnaevs, Bill Ayers had four notches on his belt, and yet just a dozen or so years after emerging unrepentant from the underground – “Guilty as hell. Free as a bird” – he was serving as Obama’s political godfather and literary muse.
So chill, Dzhokhar. This anti-terror fervor is just a phase. In a few years, the universities will be celebrating you guys the way they now do your fellow Beantown terrorists, Sacco and Vanzetti.
And who knows, you too may get to pal around with an even more “progressive” president.