Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Meaning of Boston: A Fragile and Threadbare Society Revealed

I've tried to contextualize the events of the past week in Boston as elsewhere. I've put this up first on Kasama threads, crossposting it here.

As everyone knows now, the entire Boston metro area was locked down Friday so law enforcement authorities could pursue a manhunt against suspected terror bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a young U.S. citizen of Chechen ethnicity. The streets of the Boston suburb of Watertown saw parades of black-uniformed paramilitary SWaT teams and armored military vehicles parked at intersections. In unprecedented fashion, mass transit was shut down, businesses were closed, even travel in the northeast corridor was halted.

Just five days before, Tsarnaev, with his brother Tamerlan — killed in a shootout with cops on Thursday night — allegedly dropped off two pressure-cooker bombs filled with BBs and nails at the finish line of the Boston marathon. When the bombs exploded, they killed three people — including an 8-year-old boy who had previously been photographed protesting the racist murder of Trayvon Martin — and maimed dozens more. Witnesses described limbs ripped from bodies flying through the air. While the days between the bombing and Tsarnaev's capture witnessed an orgy of clueless and racist media speculation, false leads and accusations, racial profiling, and even a handful of violent incidents against random, innocent “Muslim-looking” people, there's reasonably strong evidence against the Tsarnaev brothers. The evidence, combined with the circumstances of their final confrontations with police suggest the veracity of police claims against them. As of this writing, the motives of the Tsarnaevs remain unknown to anyone but themselves. Of course all sorts of further details are yet to be exposed, including some alleged history of contact between the elder Tsarnaev brother and an FBI antiterrorism task force.

Repression Laid Bare
8-year-old Marathon bombing victim Richard MartinIf the events in Boston revealed the incompetence of the capitalist media, they also revealed a massive apparatus of state repression. Authorities were able to sift through thousands and thousands of surveillance photos, taped phone conversations, and a massive crowd-sourced information gathering and snitching operation to identify the Tarnaevs before they moved in on them...

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