I know what Americans want from Boston bomber suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s parents – they want apologies unambiguous recriminations of their children, similar to his uncle’s brunt condemnation of Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shot out with the police.
We want to hear the parents gnash their teeth in anger at their sons’ evil acts; it’s a similar impulse we have whenever we face some kind of act of terrorism – how many people insisted that Muslims decry and condemn 9/11? As if they bear some kind of responsibility for the actions of a few.
So, Tsarnaev’s parents come off as defensive and angry. They’re not playing the roles of the grieving and apologetic parents, wringing their hands. Mother Zubeidat expresses regret at bringing her children to the United States, believing that if they stayed in their native Dagestan, they’d still be alive. “You know, my kids would be with us, and we would be, like, fine … So, yes, I would prefer not to live in America now! Why did I even go there? Why? I thought America is going to, like, protect us, our kids, it’s going to be safe.”
Her words are defiant and angry – she’s seemingly placing blame on everyone and everything except her children. To the victims of the bombings, it’s understandably infuriating. And I get their anger at her response, which can appear almost glib.
But to everyone else, I’m wondering why would anyone be surprised with the parents’ reactions? There are stories of parents turning in their children, but many parents often become senseless with grief, shame, guilt, and love; I don’t know Mr. and Mrs. Tsarnaev so I don’t know what their motivations are, but I can guess that their grief and shock may be so profound that they cannot wrap their minds around the concept of their children being killers.
I’m not suggesting that we feel sorry for the Tsarnaevs – we should feel empathy for the friends and families of the victims of the bombings. We should feel anger and indignation at the fact that the victims are now facing medical bills that are growing into small fortunes. We should hold the Obama administration responsible to explain how Tamerlan was able to plan this attack despite being subject of several reported warnings from the Russian government.
In a perfect world, the Tsarnaevs would come to the U.S., but instead of arriving full of defiant indignation, they’d arrive in head-hanging shame, ready to repent and do penance for their sons’ crimes; but obviously we don’t live an ideal world, so we get the diverse reaction from the family – outrage from the patriotic uncle, to blind and deluded support from the parents. And in this imperfect world, we also witness a kind of warped, misguided love parents have for their children.