In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, Anzor Tsarnaev defends his sons despite everything he has seen and heard.
The events of this past week have been tragic and terrible for so many people, not just in Boston but around the world: the victims of the bombing and gun fights, the whole of Boston, and even those of us who prayed from a distance that friends, family, and strangers would remain safe.
But what must it be like for the family of the two boys suspected in all of this? How does a person process that information?
Ruslan Tsarni, uncle to Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was among the first to speak out during the manhunt, urging Dzhokhar—“Suspect #2” as he has been called by authorities—to turn himself in and ask for forgiveness. Even their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, has urged Dzhokhar to tell the police everything.
Except Anzor still maintains his sons’ innocence.
That is a hard thing to comprehend. The media has branded his two sons terrorists, and while other family members express shock, their father expresses defiance. During the manhunt, he claimed that his sons were framed, and even after they killed MIT Police officer Sean A. Collier, he has demanded proof that his sons did the things they are accused of. He stands by their side and defends them in the face of this media onslaught.
Their uncle took less convincing, raging at a press conference at his home in Maryland during the manhunt about how they have “put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity” with their actions. “If you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured, and from those who left.” He had not seen the boys in nearly a decade and, throughout the conference, tried to emphasize that their actions were not about religion or anti-patriotism.
As observers during the bombings, mere flies on the wall, how do we react to two such differing opinions of the suspects. Perhaps our patriotic side wants to support Ruslan in demanding justice, but can we easily shrug off the devoted love of Anzor to his sons as misplaced or misguided? Can we shrug him off, like the people at Human Events did, as a “raving lunatic?”
Perhaps Anzor does believe his sons are guilty on some level, but if the entire world were against your last son after they cheered the death of your other, would you be able to sit back and just accept it?
For Ruslan, the repercussions of the Tsarnaev brothers’ actions will be felt. Though he is closer geographically, he has been distanced from the boys and their family. Anzor lives a much further distance from these events but is closer to Dzhokhar and the late Tamerlan, and may not receive the brunt of the media onslaught, but his children are accused terrorists–no number of miles can separate a person from that sort of tragedy. We want to believe that Ruslan is the patriotic one in both sentiment and location, but isn’t Anzor’s demand for evidence, for due process—innocent until proven guilty—equally patriotic, especially for a man who does not even live in America? Do we call him a madman because he wants his sons to be tried fairly?
There is no way to be unbiased in a situation like this, for any of us. Anzor is biased differently than we are because he is Dzhokhar and Tamerlan’s father. Do we let our rage as Americans rule our opinions on these men and the events as a whole, or does the softer side try to understand the love of a father for his sons? It is not an easy thing to look past everything we know or think we know about the events surrounding the Boston Marathon, but Anzor Tsarnaev does; can we really damn him for standing up for his sons? Do we condemn his love because of our own hatred?
Read more Breaking Stories of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.