by Charles Jacobs and Ilya Feoktistov
August 2, 2013 The Jewish Advocate
The Rolling Stone cover glamorizing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should not have surprised.
The cultural left was born hating American power and blaming it for the poverty and oppression of indigenous, darker-skinned Third Worlders who naturally and justifiably hate us. Expressing admiration for violent anti- Americans has for a long time been a way for the disaffected to exclaim how much they are not like the white imperialists they live among, how – unlike us – they are noble souls, standing with the oppressed.
In his masterful book, “Bobos in Paradise,” New York Times columnist David Brooks explained how therapeutic this sort of thing can be for middle-class youth who find themselves living off the wealth of their parents, and Western capitalism in general – a wealth they sense is undeserved, a wealth they feel traps them in an immorally privileged corner.
We should have some sympathy: It is a good thing that our children, swathed in affluence unknown to the common man just decades ago, feel moral twinges when they see the lives of Third Worlders. The problem is that the children of the West have been misled about how wealth is created. Historians know that specific cultural attributes combined with specific economic policies to create the West’s cornucopia. Today’s children are not taught that “the Protestant work ethic” and free markets lifted the West out of age-old poverty, or that hard work, deferred gratification, investment, and free trade are part of an interconnected system that can’t help but produce massive wealth. Yes, the same capitalism that lifted all boats did not bestow its gifts equally. And yes, raw capitalism produces hardships that can and should be alleviated through safety nets. But the simpler lesson taught by the left – whose “long march” through our cultural intuitions won the day – is that our wealth is to blame for others’ poverty. In the ’60s, the young victims of leftist fallacies cried out against their “white-skin privilege,” tried to join the Black Panthers, and cheered the Viet Cong. This has old, known and even pre-political roots. Ever since Jean Jacques Rousseau cursed the emerging, artificially sophisticated, modern city life and contrasted it with the purer, nobler bygone days of agrarian society, much of the Western middle class developed a romance with the “unspoiled primitive,” a vision Rousseau captured in his description of “the noble savage.” Artists such as Gauguin went to live with and glorify the natives. Anthropologists studied the Trobriand Islanders, seeking the secrets of our lost natures.
The “Guerrillero Herico” photograph of Che Guevara has become so popular it’s been printed on T-shirts. Political anti-Westernism emerged with the socialist critique of capitalism, and was dramatically expressed by those who romanticized bomb-throwing anarchists and later, with even more passion, communist guerrillas. Western infatuation with “anti-materialist” rebels reached a pinnacle with the mad love-crush over Che Guevara, a child of the middle class himself who revolted, became the Cuban communist terrorist “guerrilla fighter,” and sought to create the “new man” who would live for moral and not material goals. Che achieved rock-star hero status among the West’s spoiled children who didn’t actually have to give up any of their privileges, but just wear his T-shirt and sing from his songbook. His image was made iconic: Alberto Korda’s photograph of him entitled “Guerrillero Herico” (“Heroic Guerrilla Fighter”) is thought to be the most famous photograph in the world. It’s worn as a flag on the chests of the rich kids whose T-shirts shriek hatred for their own “greedy” kind and for the riches their parents’ society bestowed upon them, trapping them in white guilt.
Communist “guerrillas” are a bit passé. The left failed to recruit the “proletariat” for its revolution – the working class preferred scarfing up capitalist goods at Wal-Mart over programs to transform themselves into the “new man.” But ever resourceful, leftists adopted the Arab/Muslim “masses” as a new force to defeat the capitalists. And so today, radical leftists fetishize Islamic terrorists.
This is not new: Americans were surprised to see leftist Tsarnaev supporters flying in from as far as Washington State to protest outside court during his arraignment. But Boston leftists have been developing crushes on Islamists for quite a while Indeed Dzhokhar is the third Islamist terrorist that Boston’s radicals have sought to turn into celebrities.
The first was Tarek Mehanna, accused of plotting to use a machine gun to kill shoppers at the Attleboro shopping mall and convicted of material support for al-Qaida. Mehanna was given this year’s Sacco and Vanzetti award from the leftist Community Church of Boston, based in the Trinity Church in Copley Square – just feet away from where the Marathon bombs killed three people and maimed scores more.
“Occupy Boston” has also endorsed Mehanna’s cause. There is a video of an “Occupy Boston” spokesman telling the crowd at a rally in Boston Common: “I believe that Tarek is innocent of any wrongdoing. …Tarek is an Egyptian American who empowered his community – an oppressed community, the Muslim community, speaking against U.S. wars in the Middle East. He represents, in that sense, a link in the chain of international solidarity against this global system that has oppressed so many of us.” He concluded by saying: “At the end of the day, we are all Tarek Mehanna.” There was even a Tarek “flash mob” performance on the streets of Cambridge, replete with 60’s-looking radical women with hairy armpits. “Tarek” iconography – on websites and posters – preceded Dzhokhar’s.
Shortly after Boston’s radical leftists adopted Mehanna, they learned to love Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT- and Brandeis-educated – and then radicalized – young Muslim woman who is now serving an 86-year sentence for attempting to murder two FBI agents. She was caught in Afghanistan with planning a chemical attack in downtown Manhattan. The Cambridge Public Library hosted an event called “Free Sister Aafia.”The “Occupy Boston” crowd carried signs saying “Free Aafia and Tarek.”
While the far left openly salivates over anti-Western killers and would-be killers, the liberal leaders in Boston, working to blind us to the roots of these threats, work publicly with Islamic extremists who openly call for Mehanna and Siddiqui’s release. Ten years ago, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who now eloquently accuses Rolling Stone of “reward[ing] a terrorist with celebrity treatment” rewarded the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) – the mosque attended by Mehanna, Siddiqui and the two Boston Marathon bombers – with a $2 million plot of city land (which he gave away for peanuts) for the building of a new $16 million, Saudi-funded mega-mosque. Just two years ago, “Menino’s mosque” (as The Boston Phoenix called it) hosted a pep rally for four convicted Muslim terrorists from around the country.
Shortly before that, Governor Deval Patrick – who has also condemned the Rolling Stone cover as being in poor taste – attended a high-profile event at the same mosque, where he literally embraced one of Boston’s most extremist imams, Abdullah Faaruuq. Faaruuq, who has made the cases of Mehanna and Siddiqui, causes célèbres among the Islamic Society of Boston worshippers. (Faaruuq was dismissed from his position as the Muslim chaplain at Northeastern University when this was revealed.) Even Henrietta Davis, the mayor of Cambridge – where the Marathon terrorists lived – is inadvertently supporting radicals. She headlined an event in support of the ISB, where she can be seen staring in dutiful rapture as the “moderate” spokesman from the mosque that the bombers prayed in – Anwar Kazmi – spouts platitudes about peace and justice after the bombing. She has not responded to reports that a year earlier, Kazmi was caught on film leading a Boston Common rally at which he called on Muslims and leftists to support Mehanna and Siddiqui.
Will Tsarnaev’s stylized visage become like Che’s, a global countercultural symbol of “rebellion,” an international insignia for the popculture leftists? State police Sgt. Sean Murphy might have thrown a monkey wrench into the leftist icon machine by releasing to the press an unglamorous set of photos of Tsarnaev taken as he was arrested, bruised and bloodied and in the unheroic pose of abject surrender.
Murphy, who was docked a day’s pay for his valiant service to Western civilization, gets our vote as the real “new man.” Maybe we should take up a collection; he certainly earned his keep that day. Stay tuned.
Charles Jacobs and Ilya Feoktistov are President and Research Director, respectively, of Americans for Peace and Tolerance