No matter how evil he is, Dzhokar Tsarnaev is still an American. The police should read him his Miranda Rights.
I’ve never been to Chechnya; I can’t even find it on a map (I tried). I’ve never built a bomb. I’ve never fired a gun at anyone; I’ve never wanted to. I’ve never seen an eight-year old I thought was deserving of death. I’ve never understood people who do. What I have been, and do understand, is feeling like an “other”.
None of my feelings of other-ness have ever driven me to the places that Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev went. I wouldn’t even know how to get there from where I am, and I don’t want to know what kind of dark world they inhabit both inside and outside of their minds. However, Tamerlan said on his Youtube page (which will not be linked), “I don’t have any American friends. I don’t understand them.” That’s somebody who felt like an “other”.
Tamerlan sleeps in a morgue now, and I sleep just fine knowing that. His brother is sleeping in a jail cell, and as of this writing, April 21st at 7:15PM CST, he hasn’t been read his Miranda rights. Dzhokar is an American citizen; he said the words on September 11th, 2013. Obviously, those words meant absolutely nothing to him, but he said them, and that makes him an American citizen (read: a little less “other”). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) doesn’t think that he should be read those rights; Sen. Graham says that Dzhokar is an “enemy combatant”. Those words have a legal definition that basically means “foreign terrorist”. I agree with Lindsey Graham, in the sense that Dzhokar Tsarnaev is an enemy of America. He’s an American, too. The enemy is disturbed young men; they’re often intelligent, disaffected, different, and most importantly, they’re very angry. We won’t know why Dzhokar thought those people, his fellow Americans, should die, and unless he tells us, we may never know.
It would be a mistake to treat him as an enemy combatant in the legal sense. That would effectively say, “We let a terrorist in.” He came here when he was eight years old; I refuse to believe that second graders are terrorists. He became a monster while he was living here. He went to war with us, but I’m willing to bet that he felt we were already at war with him. That, in absolutely no way, excuses any single action he took after that first monstrous thought entered his head.
The list of unassuming young men who reveal themselves to be monsters is long and will only get longer. We need to Mirandize Dzhokar Tsarnaev because he’s a terrorist that was in our midst. If we treat him like a member of Al-Qaeda in a faraway place, then we’re saying that it can’t happen again and we had nothing to do with it.
In the United States, we offer even the ugliest of criminals due process of law because that is one thing separating us from the bad guys. Our criminal justice system is sluggish and inefficient at times, but if we turn off fairness, then we’re starting down a dark path.
I don’t know what made Dzhokar Tsarnaev into a monster, but I’m assuming that he felt the staggering “other”-ness. The pain is that he isn’t “other”, not truly. He’s an American and we need to treat him like one; sit him in a court of law and let all of the U.S. watch. Then, we start talking about what is making young men so damn angry.