Mindless Before, and Mindless After

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two articles address different aspects of the mindlessness of the Boston Marathon bombers, the latest murderers to find in Islam an excuse to act on what Michael Hurd rightly calls their "metaphysical temper tantrums".

The first article, in Mother Jones, ticks off (only) eleven "mystifying" things the terrorist brothers did, while claiming that their motive for committing the atrocities they did remains unclear. The list includes such items as, "Run out of Cash":

When Dzhokhar carjacked a Mercedes on Thursday night, he and his brother had one thing in mind: Get cash, and fast. They emptied $800 from an ATM using their victim's PIN number, before they reached the account limit. Holding up a stranger for money suggests a woeful  lack of planning on their part (they hadn't budgeted) that helped alert them to the authorities. [link in original]
Just as most leftists resolutely refuse to put two and two together, treating it as some strange coincidence that so many terrorists are Moslem, the article memorably asks of another item, "Why a BB gun?" The entirety of this list suggests a common cause to me, though: The two murderers were not long-range thinkers. Why the BB gun? Why hadn't they planned an escape? Indeed, why hadn't they planned a more effective attack? Because their mental habits didn't include planning, which depends on a long-range view of life in the real world. Whatever orders they got, weapons they found, or money they got were what happened to be around. There is no more mystery here than there is about what motivated them.

The second article describes the influences that the elder, more dominant brother fell under, as he made the transition from a dissolute form of emotionalism to a dogmatic one:
Once known as a quiet teenager who aspired to be a boxer, Tamerlan Tsarnaev delved deeply into religion in recent years at the urging of his mother, who feared he was slipping into a life of marijuana, girls and alcohol. Tamerlan quit drinking and smoking, gave up boxing because he thought it was in opposition to his religion, and began pushing the rest of his family to pursue stricter ways, his mother recalled.
... Tamerlan stated that he "took offense to celebrating anything," be it the Prophet's birthday (which not all Muslims celebrate) or American holidays.
And still later:
Anzor Tsarnaev said he was "outraged" by his son's decision to drop boxing. He said Tamerlan told him that a Muslim must not punch another man in the face.
So Tsarnaev, thanks to Islam, stopped drinking, smoking, or celebrating anything, quit boxing, and committed the murders at the Boston Marathon. I can no more think of a rational explanation for (1) why a man who recoils at the idea of punching someone else (who expects it) in the face would also feel that it's okay to kill or maim a complete stranger with a concealed bomb; any more than (2) why he'd bother with a BB gun while attempting an escape.

But there is a philosophical explanation, and Christian Beenfeldt gave it years ago when writing about the similar case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh:
What neither the subjectivist nor the dogmatist can fathom is the need for an objective approach-a method of seeking truth, acquiring knowledge, and defining moral standards, not by indulgence in emotions, but by a process of reasoning based on factual evidence alone. In every issue and area of its life, a mind on this premise is moved not by arbitrary whims, but by logical arguments that are grounded in directly perceivable facts.
Read the rest for an excellent elaboration on how emotionalism lies at the root of dissolution and religious fundamentalism alike.

The Brothers Tsarnaev rejected reason root, trunk, and branch. This is not only reflected in their decision to murder  athletes during their moment of triumph, but also in the slipshod way they carried out their anti-life jihad. If there is any consolation to come from this latest inhuman and deadly outburst, it is that the enemy is small and self-limited by its very nature.

-- CAV

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