Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned on July 10 for the bombing he and his brother allegedly perpetrated on April 15 at the Boston Marathon. He is charged with a total of four murders and for using a weapon of mass destruction.
Rolling Stone magazine, which has a long journalistic tradition and – per the article “commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day”– released its latest issue featuring Tsarnaev on the cover.
There was, understandably, some strong reaction to this, particularly from Boston-area residents. Here at Poligags, we feel there really are no sacred cows. Most of us had no reaction to the cover at all.
Upon hearing the reactions of others on either side of the argument, though, we gave the issue more thought. We also read the magazine’s statement:
“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens…”
We offer this possibility: perhaps the cover is the point.
We – from government agencies to individuals on the street – think we can profile. That all bad guys have that mad gleam in their eye like Charlie Manson (also featured on a Rolling Stone cover many years ago). That we could identify evil if we encountered it.
But Tsarnaev, who looks much the same as every male we see streaming out of the local high school, defies this notion. No one pegged him as capable of what he’s on trial for. He was “laid back” and “a promising student”. He’d just become a citizen of the United States a few months before the bombing. And he just doesn’t look evil.
But there’s little doubt that he did what he’s accused of. He clearly had that darkness in him. He was capable of inflicting fear, harm and death on fellow citizens. And no one saw it coming.
The cover of the Rolling Stone challenges our collective delusion that we know evil when it’s among us.
© 2013 Poligags
UPDATE (July 18, 2013) – Sgt. Sean Murphy, a state police photographer, released capture photos of Tsarnaev & was relieved of duty. His status with the police department will be reviewed in the coming week. Story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-new-arrest-photos_n_3619835.html