By Steven Kurlander
With all the considerable news coverage and analysis of the recent bombings of the April 15 twin bombings by the Tsarnaev brothers that left three people dead and 264 others injured – including at least 14 who lost limbs – sadly there’s been practically no historical reference to other plentiful examples of similar violence in our nation’s past.
The Boston bombings are being reported and viewed strictly in the context of a “war on terror” started by President Bush in the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombings and continued with vigor by the Obama Administration, a imprudent war that always has lacked any true definition of enemy or purpose.
And the lack of such past reference to American historical precedent over the last two centuries which is replete with similar instances of mass violence and bombings resulting from unabated reverence for political and/or religious teachings wrongfully exploits the significance of the Boston bombings.
In fact the only historical reference really made was mention about Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, which was the most destructive anarchist bombing act in American history if correctly framed in purely anarchist terms.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Boston, it is that we need to on one hand frame the war on terror as a fight against an organized Islamic fascist enemy abroad, which has so far been avoided in deference to political correctness and misguided internationalism, and on the other define individual acts of anarchy on American soil as such in traditional terms and not in war like terms that encompass unwise references to acts of war and treason.
Unlike the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the recent Boston bombings is just the latest of criminal bombings, or in today’s lingo “acts of mass destruction,” that Americans have dealt with since the inception of the nation.
And our lack of knowledge and reference to these historical precedents continues to wrongfully guide our both our government’s lack of will to differentiate between war and domestic anarchy and our citizen’s acquiesce to a reduction of our constitutional rights.
Back in the early 20th century, “terrorists” were referred to as “anarchists” (basically the same thing) carried out what would be termed these days as acts of wars.
President McKinley was assassinated by one such anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, in 1901 in Buffalo, NY. Between the years 1919-1920, anarchists led by Luigi Galleani, an (illegal?) immigrant from Italy, mailed tens of bombs to banks, government offices, and other institutions and carried out assassination attempts on prominent American businessmen and politicians. That lead to the Red Scare that resulted in substantial illegal search and seizures, unwarranted arrests and detentions, and the deportation of several hundred suspected radicals and anarchists.
Much like the government actions in the Red Scare, the tragic events in Boston, as framed as an act of war, will continue to allow the federal government to violate and decrease our constitutional rights and individual liberties in the name of fighting terrorism.
Sure, there’s been some debate and significant questions raised by the Obama Administration’s decision to administer the reading of Miranda rights to the younger, surviving Tsarnaev brother and declare him an “enemy combatant” that would have suspended his due process constitutional rights. But framing such debate in any other context, like characterizing the bombings as an act of political or religious violence or purely in criminal terms, would not only decrease the Boston bombings’ newsworthy significance, but diminish the magnitude of its destruction as an act of war and international terrorism.
In fact, the issue surrounding trying Tsarnaev as a criminal or as a treasonous terrorist soldier was strictly framed in the perspective of how to punish, and hang, average Americans citizens acting as terrorists in alleged war time conditions.
And it was silly given that any confession garnered from Tsarnaev would have been superfluous given the massive amount of evidence already amassed by the FBI against him, much of it from witnesses using social media and government surveillance of public places in Boston.
Referring to question of whether the Tsarnaev brothers were “home grown” or “international” terrorists, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stated: “This is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.”
The conduct of all war, whether propagated by individuals, rogue groups, or nations, is pure and simple acts of terror, organized or not. Framing the Boston bombing as a terrorist act without viewing it in an historical context will in the end, lead to justification of the depreciation of individual liberties, all in the misguided name of national security.
The Tsarnaev brothers were nothing more than immigrant anarchists carrying on a tradition of political violence, this time framed in religious fervor. And we should not get carried away in framing its significance in light of our historical past. On April 15th, Corley Square in Boston was truly not another battlefield in American history.
Very insightful and true. See my article “Radical Educators in New York City,
No, they were not anarchists. Anarchism is a separate ideology with its own history and debates over the role of violence in pursuing its vision. Please, quit embarrassing yourself.
The ideology of the Boston bombers was not anarchist but jihad while their technique was violent terrorism so the question: is were they enemy combatants under the laws of war because they used al-Qaeda bomb making techniques? Some anarchists in early 1900s were bomb makers and some pacifists whole believed all governments are corrupt which does not make you an enemy combatant.
The ideology of the Boston bombers was not anarchist but jihad while their technique was violent terrorism so the question: is were they enemy combatants under the laws of war because they used al-Qaeda bomb making techniques? Some anarchists in early 1900s were bomb makers and some pacifists who believed all governments are corrupt which does not make you an enemy combatant.
Anarchists can’t wait for an opportunity to lecture writers like yourself who make this misstep — one that is smaller than they would have you believe. It is true that anarchism is a separate ideology from jihadism with its own (largely obscure, sometimes terroristic) history. But the confusion around the word “anarchist” can be placed squarely at the foot of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who in 1840 became the first man to call himself an anarchist.
Sometimes called the Father of Anarchism, Proudhon was not a philosopher, although some of his ideas remain at the core of anarchist doctrine. He was a phrasemaker and compositor (what we today might call a columnist). In naming himself an “anarchist” and the ideal society for which he strived “anarchy”, Proudhon was redefining the word as commonly used in France and England at the time. That is, an undesirable state of lawlessness and political disorder.
I could explain further about what anarchy meant in Proudhon’s mind, but I think most people lose interest at this point. Anarchists, meanwhile, have a whole series of ritually-repeated phrases they with which they will follow up. I’ve posted more on this topic here: http://goo.gl/LWjxM