I thought that once they killed Tamrelan and caught Dzhokar Tsarnaev that it was going to be the perfect moment where we would reinstate, restate, renew our commitment to American justice. The young men are dead and caught, respectively. There are many witnesses, all kinds of stuff to make a 100% legal case against this Godforsaken kid. When I went to bed last night I was actually thinking to myself what a relief that they could do this by the book, no mistreatment of any kind has the slightest sense of necessity, and that we could begin to deal with terrorism and crime in a just and clean way.
Imagine my surprise to wake up to the decision not to read Dzhokar his Miranda rights, to calls to designate him an ‘enemy combatant.’ It is crushing to realize that people, Senators, do not believe in the moral strength of the Constitution, that they either are so wicked and cynical that they are simply pandering to the worst, or they themselves are so lost, that we have entrusted our government to people who do not understand nor believe in democracy or rule of law.
It looks as if Tamerlan, along with bomb-making books, has on his amazon wish-list, Gibbons’ The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. How weird, how important that is to know. Do we want to understand what is happening? Start here. This man sees the United States as the Roman Empire. One might soberly observe that the Romans themselves surrendered their Republic to a strongman, a hero-dictator. I could not recommend this book more highly to our Senators and the other wastrels of our tarnished, but essentially brilliantly conceived Republic, a republic conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. In this Republic, we have a structure created to protect what is best in human beings: for our own sakes, we legally presume a person is innocent until proven guilty. These boys are not innocent, and neither are hundreds of other murderers we put on trial. This presumption, these rules, protect US. No amount of law can make us safe. Safety comes from the civil contract. If the law itself becomes unsafe, if the police are unsafe, if our Senators are unsafe – then there is nothing between us and the pavement coming toward us at 60 miles an hour. Right this bike for God’s sake.
This is so obvious and well known that I feel the need to turn to supernatural sources. It does not seem possible that we would voluntarily surrender the Constitution and the traditions of hundreds of years of gut-wrenchingly difficult jurisprudence to a teenager who wanted to please his brother in the worst way. Is there really any question that he will be put him in jail forever? Why would we hand over a way of life that thousands have died to create and uphold? It must be the devil.
Master L. Cz., The Temptation of Christ (detail of the Devil), 1500