America’s Enemy Within

Former President George W. Bush once explained terrorism as the expression of hatred for American freedom. But when a crime committed by two young immigrants causes an entire city to be shut down, Americans’ government is harming their freedom more than any terrorist could ever hope to do.

NEW YORK – Barring any unexpected new revelations, there is not much to be learned from the Tsarnaev brothers, better known as “the Boston bombers.” We can dig into their family histories in strife-torn Dagestan, or examine, once again, the lethal appeal of Islamist radicalism. But I doubt that this would be enlightening.

The elder brother, Tamerlan, who died in a gun battle with the police, appears to fit perfectly the profile of what the German writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger calls “the radical loser.” And his younger brother, Dzhokhar, recovering from gunshot wounds in a Boston hospital while waiting to be put on trial for his life, seems to have been a pathetic follower who acted less out of deep conviction than out of fraternal love.

The radical loser is the kind of young man who feels victimized by an unfeeling, uncaring world. That sour sense of rejection, felt by many confused youths, turns for some into a fierce desire for vengeance. Like Samson in the temple of Gaza, he wishes to destroy himself in a public act of violence, taking as many people as possible with him.

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