I keep hoping that we’re better than this.
By “this”, I’m referring to the ‘controversy’ surrounding where to bury Tamerlan Tsarnev, the oldest of the two Boston Marathon bombers. Tsarnev’s uncle came to Massachusetts to oversee the burial for the family. A funeral home in Worcester, MA (a small city about 90 mins west of Boston) agreed to handle the arrangements–and have faced public criticism for doing so, including protesters outside the funeral home. Finding a cemetery is proving a bit more problematic. The Uncle is trying to find one in the Boston area, although the Cambridge City Manager (think “mayor”) has preemptively denied permission to bury him in any of the city-owned cemeteries, supposedly in the interests of “peace within the city”.
The man is dead, people. Loved ones can’t get cooties from being buried next to a dead terrorist–any more than by being buried next to a dead black man or a dead Jew.
I don’t really care about Tamerlane. But funerals, cemeteries, and other burial rites aren’t about the corpse. They are about bringing closure to the families and friends of the deceased. They are about trying to find solace and healing. And right now, the Tsarnev family needs healing. Not only did they lose a family member–a son, a father, a husband, a brother, and a nephew–they are also struggling to deal with how their boy could have done something so terrible. This is a time of confusion, sadness, and guilty, for all of them.
And now protesters, the media, and local politicians are piling onto the family–trying to deny them the ability to bury their son and start the healing process? That’s downright cruel.
Besides, let’s call a spade a spade. I don’t recall any such controversies when we’ve buried serial killers and terrorists in the past. Did people protest Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, being buried on American soil? What about the DC sniper? The Unibomber? The Newtowne shooter, Adam Lanza? All of those killed many more people than did Tamerlan Tsarnev.
The difference is that Tsarnev is a Muslim immigrant. The attempts to deny burial rites for his family stems not from some greater feeling that terrorists shouldn’t be buried on American soil. It’s a reflection of anti-Muslim hatred. It’s racism, pure and simple.
Seriously, people, we’re better than that. Or at least we ought to be.