My political thought of the day:
The latest reports on the Boston Marathon bombers are pointing to Dzhokzhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, two Russian Chechnyans who were in America on a student visa. Which means, assuming these reports are right (and they do seem pretty solid), it’s time for a big mea culpa on my part.
I saw that this happened on Tax Day and in Boston, and suspected a connection to American homegrown terrorists, folks that were virulently anti-government and especially anti-tax. Then I saw those surveillance photos and saw they were caucasians, and grew even more sure I was right about this. I made one passing reference to this theory, but for the most part I stayed quiet and waited to be prove right. I didn’t want to spread bad information and guesses as facts or pile on the feed-our-need-to-know NOW trend. But I had the theory, definitely. It just seemed so obvious, and so obviously true.
Assuming these people really are the bombers, this incident is a call for me to be a bit more skeptical, a bit more careful, and a bit slower to rely on stereotypes. There are more than two possibilities in cases like this, and “international terrorist” doesn’t always mean Arab or Muslim. A lot of times things don’t divide up along the lines we’re used to seeing.
I’m mentioning this partly to keep myself humble, but also because I see a lot of the kind of thinking I’m trying to avoid here on FB. The most recent example is probably the many memes I’ve seen condemning those Senators who voted against the background check amendment. There was a real assumption that the world broke down into the true heroes who stood up for a way to fight gun violence, and the cowards or worse who voted against the move. I wish we’d passed the law, too, but that kind of thinking never has sat well with me. I think it relies on the kind of thinking that led me astray here. A Democratic Senator anywhere in the country must took and act like the Democratic Senator of my experience, meaning the Democratic Senator of my region or the national leaders.An international terrorist must look like the international terrorists of my imagination – and if they don’t I must imagine a whole other category to put them in.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: reality is much more nuanced than our preconceptions of how things *should* turn out. It’s worth keeping that in mind when reacting to political situations.