James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Double Standards
Authorities have yet to determine what motivated suspects Tamerlan, 26, and Dzhokhar, 19, Tsarnaev to set off two home-made bombs at Monday’s Boston Marathon, killing three and severely injuring over 170 people. Nonetheless, the bombings have been labeled an “act of terror”, implying that a known political motive is not necessary for an attack in the US to consitute “terrorism”. While this raises significant questions about the term “terrorism”, it also highlights a grave double standard in the US government’s response to mass murder.
For example, if a mass casualty attack in and of itself equals terrorism, why was the brutal massacre of 20 first graders and six teachers by Adam Lanza never labeled as such? Why isn’t James Holmes–who killed 12 and injured 58 at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theatre last summer–being prosecuted as a “terrorist”?
James Holmes was read his Miranda rights without controversy, despite his home being booby trapped with explosives that the authorities spent several hours dismantling after evacuation of an entire apartment building. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has invoked the public safety exception to Miranda so they can question Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “extensively about other potential explosive devices or accomplices” before reading him his Miranda rights.
James Holmes’s religious background was never closely examined as a potential motivating factor in his decision to shoot up a movie theatre. His family’s Pastor was never expected to declare his love for America and denounce Christian extremists to prove his loyalties. Adam Lanza attended a Catholic church but no one ever speculated that the Vatican played a role in his deadly rampage.
The NRA material found in Adam Lanza’s home (shooting guides, certificate) was never viewed as suspicious or worthy of further investigation into the NRA’s potential role in provoking the Newtown massacre.
Despite Holmes dressing up like a military soldier while committing his crime, GOP lawmakers never issued a statement demanding he be prosecuted as an enemy combatant. Yet, this is exactly what happened today in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Holmes killed more people than the Boston bombers, yet Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) never urged Obama to ship him to Guantanamo.
I also don’t recall a single US politician suggesting we torture James Holmes for information about his explosives or possible links to terrorist cells, which New York State Senator Greg Ball has suggested we do to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:
Young white men and white people in general were never profiled, harassed, assaulted or collectively blamed for the actions of Lanza, Holmes or the countless other white males who’ve gone on a shooting rampage in the recent past.
Even now, investigators are unsure about what provoked Lanza and Holmes aside from a potentially undiagnosed mental illness.
More recently, the media has speculated that Adam Lanza was motivated by bullying he experienced during his time as a student at Sandy Hook Elementary. Conversely, not a single person has inquired about the mental wellbeing of the Boston Bombing suspects. Experts in psychology, violence and mass murder haven’t appeared on cable news or written op-eds for the New York Times and Washington Post with insight into what causes people to snap. No one has speculated about bullying that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s may have experienced, particularly Tamerlan, who was in middle school when he immigrated to the United States, an age when bullying is at its peak.
Of course, all of these questions are rhetorical since we already know the answer: Adam Lanza and James Holmes are Christian white males whose names have the appropriate number of consonants. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are Muslim (which cancels out white) males who immigrated to the US from a region of the world where names are difficult to pronounce (for us).