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Monday, August 05, 2013

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s rightwing extremism

Street memorial to bombing victims
Turns out that the Islamic fundamentalism assumed to be behind the Boston bomings may not be the complete explanation. The older Tsarnaev brother, Tamerlan — who is believe to have been the leader of his little two-man terrorist cell — was steeped in rightwing conspiracy theories and seems to have identified with rghtwing extremism.

A BBC News program called Panarama “spent months speaking exclusively with friends of the bombers to try to understand the roots of their radicalisation" and learned that Tsarnaev’s motivations weren’t quite as simple as they have been assumed to be.

BBC: The programme discovered that Tamerlan Tsarnaev possessed articles which argued that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were government conspiracies.

Another in his possession was about “the rape of our gun rights".

Reading material he had about white supremacy commented that “Hitler had a point".

Tamerlan Tsarnaev also had literature which explored what motivated mass killings and noted how the perpetrators murdered and maimed calmly.

There was also material about US drones killing civilians, and about the plight of those still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.
People who knew him describe his Muslim faith as not very deep. “As far connecting with the Islamic community here, to actually praying, being involved, doing acts of charity….all of those were pretty much lacking," one woman said. “I would say he was just a Muslim of convenience,"

Of course, the rightwing blogosphere is responding to the revelations with a blizzard of victim cards, but the fact is that they shouldn’t be at all surprised. The conservative line on Islamic extremism has always been a muddled and contradictory mess — look at Newt Gingrich’s assertion that liberals are plotting “a secular atheist country" that would be dominated by “radical Islamists." That the statement is contradictory was completely lost on Tea Party types, who bobbled their heads up and down and said yup yup yup. And the reason is that the facts are way too uncomfortable to acknowledge.

Tea Party extremists and Islamic fundamentalists have far more in common with each other than Islamic fundies and the left. After all, who:

  • Argues that armed violence is a valid method of political change?
  • Argues that women’s bodies need to be controlled?
  • Argues that homosexuality is a virulent evil?
  • Distrusts or even hates the US government?
  • Argues that religious doctrine should guide lawmakers?
It should surprise no one if there’s some bleed over between rightwing radicalism and Islamic extremism. In fact, that link has already been established. If Tsarnaev was inspired — even partially — by rightwing conspiracy theories about about Obama’s federal gun-grabbers or the OKC bombing being staged to make militias look bad, then it wouldn’t be such a radical leap from that to religious extremism or vice versa. Tea Party extremism, religious fundamentalism, and intolerance all go hand in hand.

Rightwing extremists and Islamic fundamentalism are just two sides of the same coin.

[photo by AnubisAbyss]

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