Editor’s Note: This was coauthored by Gina Luttrell (Editor-in-Chief) and Rachel Burger (Associate Editor).
As details emerge about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers — one of whom is dead — who are the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing, I’m beginning to see a bit of a pattern in how some people are choosing to report on them:
As my friend put it:
The Daily Caller wants to make sure everyone knows that the dead suspect was a Muslim. Just for the record. Only trying to be objective. Just so we are clear. In case you missed it.
Where did this fine piece of stellar reporting come from, you ask? Well, instead of asking Tsarnaev’s friends and family, his neighbors, or his teachers, they decided to use some captions in pictures that a photographer took during his Golden Gloves competition in Salt Lake City.
They take a quote from one picture that says, “Tamerlan says he doesn’t usually take his shirt off so girls don’t get bad ideas: “I’m very religious.” The picture you ask? Him. Without a shirt. In front of his girlfriend (picture has since been removed). Another caption they take?
Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: “God said no alcohol.” A muslim, he says: “There are no values anymore,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”
Boy, when I was at CPAC 2013 this year, I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I heard that phrase, that sentiment, or those words spoken to me, by participants and by speakers over the weekend. Apparently thinking that America has no values and being very religious is completely okay — as long as you’re not a Muslim.
In contrast, reporters who, you know, actually went and talked to people that this man knew, got a completely different picture. From The Washington Post:
[Ty] Barros, who graduated in 2009, two years earlier than he said Jahar graduated, said he was not a close friend. But everybody knew everybody through the neighborhood and the high school, and they hung out casually. He said he has not seen Jahar for about a year.
“He was really easy going,” said Barros, a student at Bunker Hill Community College. “He didn’t seem like an angry kid.”
He said Jahar never talked politics or said much about the U.S., nor discussed the marathon.
Color me shocked.
It’s not just news outlets who are pulling this either. We’ve seen great sweeping generalizations about Islam popping up all over our news feeds from our friends — people we respect and some of whom claim to advocate for liberty.
Conservatives and conservatarians claim to be the great defenders of individualism. In vehement opposition to collectivism, Sarah Palin declared that American leadership should be ”ending the poisonous practice of treating members of different social, ethnic and religious groups as different electorates, pandered to with different promises.” If all men are created equal, as the Declaration of Independence states, Palin said, then there are “no Hispanic issues or African-American issues or women’s issues — there are only American issues.”
But if there is one group that conservatives frequently collectivize, it’s the people of the Muslim faith.
We would like to remind conservatives—and any member of the social media witch hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—that this boy has not seen his day in court. The evidence is based on his location at the time of the bombing, and a backpack. If you were a jury, would you be so ready to condemn him?
We are concerned that the added fact that he is Muslim (and we don’t even know if he is) is being used as some form of misplaced evidence that he was involved in the Boston Bombings.
If Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are responsible for the bombings, they did a terrible thing, but they are spokesmen for no one but themselves. They are outliers in the generally peaceful and charitable Islamic religion. The fact that they might have been violent and might have been religious Islamists may not even correlate.
The mighty conservatives and libertarians who so champion individualism utterly fail, here, to consistently apply the principles they claim to espouse: due process under law, innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to be judged by the content of one’s character and not by some group identity placed upon you.
And all because the suspects may be Muslim. Seriously? What these folks are doing is discrimination, plain and simple, and it’s the most un-individualistic thing that they could possibly do. Where are your principles now?