Yesterday I let myself get locked into the awful drama going on in the Boston suburbs. I picked up the WBUR (local public radio) live stream on my smartphone and listened as I went about my life.
Why? What possible purpose would it serve to listen to hours of broadcasters fumbling, filling empty moments with quasi-information, with fear, with "expert commentators" trying to fit the the incomprehensible into whatever frames they carry about with them? But I listened. When life has turned into a TV movie -- and you are at a safe distance -- it is not hard to get sucked in. I am not proud of my fascination; there was never going to be a good end to this.
I need to applaud the local radio station. It turned out one of their regular hosts, Robin Young of "Here and Now" had met Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at a high school prom party she hosted for a nephew. The station took serious flack for her journalistic enterprise in putting on the nephew to report what a regular guy the fugitive young man had seemed so recently. Broadcasting this took some courage: Boston had good reason to believe this young man had killed a cop -- killed a cop in a city where, more than in many of our cities, police seem less an occupying army and more like good fathers from down the block.
Repeatedly, reporters put on various academics and "terrorism experts" to opine about Russian Chechnya. I don't know anything about Chechnya but the incoherent drivel coming from these people was enough to make me agree with the thuggish Chechen president "You must look for the roots of their evil in America." These Boston men had grown up in the US; they seemed to have made lives in New England. Moreover, it quickly came out that they've essentially never lived in the terrorist-filled Chechnya the "experts" referenced.
It was noticeable to me that these guys were described as living in a world unusually devoid of women, as two young men alone. Listeners were told nothing about a mother. The older man had apparently had a wife and a child -- and a domestic violence arrest -- but these people seemed dim appendages. Just maybe that means they'll be able to make an unstigmatized life?
Nobody was asking one obvious question: "Where did these guys get their guns?" Now that the NRA has triumphed in the Senate, I guess we're not supposed to think about that, though if I'd been a time-filling reporter, I'd have wondered. Will we be told? My partner teaches college students -- she has at least one who doodles gun sites in class. Should that worry her? Nobody thought this Dzhokhar was dangerous until he apparently was.
I sure hope we don't get more of this reaction, but we probably will:
Enough for now. I remain haunted. Catching one of the perps does not dispel the mysteries.