Dzokhar Tsarnaev, Rolling Stone, and false simplicity.

I was horrified by the Boston Marathon. As was the civilized world. Slaughtering innocent people is always wrong. Period. And Dzokhar Tsarnaev will justly rot in jail.

But the only way to defeat this kind of terrorism, as the British, French, Israelis, and other countries that have known real terror know, is to ignore it. To call around, make sure your friends are OK, and then go to the pub and get on with your day. And to talk about it rationally.

But America, and much more so Canada, are very new to this game. Our generation has never known war, with a very few atypical exceptions. Neither has our parents. Our grandparents remembered the last one, but even then it was something that was happening elsewhere. To other people.

Dzokhar Tsarnaev is not other people. He was an American, and people who deny that deny that the word has any meaning at all. He looks like someone you know. Someone you could have grown up with. Someone familiar.

That’s what horrifies America about him. That’s what shakes a certain type of person to their very core.

And to see him on the cover of Rolling Stone, beneath letters that have framed all the young idols of a generation, from John Lennon to Bob Marley to Deadmau5, is deeply, deeply unsettling.

But the fault doesn’t lie with Rolling Stone for being good journalists after all, or for capitalizing on it. The fault lies with the racism of the public narrative that Rolling Stone is challenging. We’re being confronted with the ugly truth that ideology doesn’t have borders anymore, and that good little white kids can be just as monstrous as brown ones.

There have been literally thousands of suicide bombers across the Middle East. The walls and floors of Gaza are covered with posters and flyers with the faces of martyrs on them. I’m willing to bet good money that he’s not the first terrorist to have gotten this treatment. He’s not even the first American, if you think back to Dillinger, Manson, hell, even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He is, however, the first American Muslim.

But there are people, and plenty of them, who will never be comfortable with that idea. There’s a deep, vicious streak of bigotry in America. The same people who think Trayvon Martin was just one of ‘those people’ don’t know what to do with Dzokhar Tsarnaev. He doesn’t really compute.

I emphatically don’t extend the blame for this bigotry to the people of Boston, who are justifiably upset at having their emotions played with like this. I know my emotional response would be different if it was my home town, and my friends in the firing line.

I don’t even really blame the bigots. It’s hard to blame them for wanting to believe easy narratives. It’s so much simpler to live in a black-and-white, Manichean world where the bad guys are always hideous orcs and the goodies invariably win the day. Everything takes on a kind of false clarity.

But the world isn’t that simple. People are good, and people are bad. Ideology, which we’ve pretended for twenty long, dull years of neo-liberalism is a spent force, never goes away, and it makes people kill.

It’s the same reason that the parents of the children killed at Utoya by Anders Behring Breivik were so relieved that the court found him sane. They didn’t want him to have that excuse. His Manifesto was rambling, it was thick-headed, it was barbaric, and it was hateful. It wasn’t lunatic. No matter what people tell themselves.

It’s the same reason it rankles with some people that Michael Adebolajo, who brutally hacked Drummer Rigby to death in the street outside Woolwich Barracks, is being given a civilian trial. Soldiers are somehow different. In foreign countries, they’re legitimate military targets. And i wonder what Michael Adebolajo genuinely thinks about his British passport.

People are not hateful. People are not evil. Ideologies are. There are good ones, and there are evil ones, yes. But to imagine that the choices between them will always be simple and obvious is a comforting delusion.

Lots of people

Miriam Conrad, Ruslan Tsarni, and other American heroes.

Dzokhar Tsarnaev is, at the end of the day, a criminal. He will now be punished and otherwise treated like one.

But I’m going to choose to remember the true heroes of the past week.

Like Ruslan Tsarni, Dzokhar’s uncle, who eloquently and passionately denounced his newphew, defended the idea of America, and generally proved that in an extraordinary situation, he was capable of showing extaordinary courage. Especially in the face of such stupid, hostile questions from an uncaring, agressive, and pathetically useless mass media as ‘Do you love America?’

Or like Carlos Arredondo, who unhestitatingly, unquestioningly saved the life of one of Dzokhar’s victims with a torn-up sweater and truly incredible courage and love.

Or, perhaps above all, Miriam Conrad, federal defender for Massachusetts, who has today announced that she’ll be defending Dzokhar Tsarnaev in court.

In doing so, she proved that some of the finest things that people have ever said about America are still true. That the law is there for all of us, no matter what we’ve done. That everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That there is nothing you can do that will undermine the essential liberties of the American people. And that justice will be swift, unyielding, but above all, fair.

She proved this better than most of the so-called senators, congressmen, and other filth who have polluted the halls of Washington this week with their traitorous words.

She, and all the other Americans who support her, who believe in the justice system, and in the ancient rights and liberties of the English speaking world, are the true heroes of this week. The ones who understand that no matter how desperately we want to punish those who hate us for what we hold dear, when we sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of revenge, it is the terrorists who ultimately win. And by terrorists I mean both Tsarnaev and his brother, and the better-funded, better-armed, and ultimately more deadly terrorists in Washington DC who seek to exploit this tragedy for their own ends.

A friend of mine asked me whether I thought Miriam Conrad, as she turned out to be, was a good woman, or just a good lawyer who likes a challenge.

I hope she’s both.

And I hope good people like her continue to be so in the days ahead.

I am Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona,  last night announced the following on Facebook.

“It is clear the events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city. The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise, but terrorist trying to injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans.

“Now that the suspect is in custody, the last thing we should want is for him to remain silent. It is absolutely vital the suspect be questioned for intelligence gathering purposes. We need to know about any possible future attacks which could take additional American lives. The least of our worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now.

“Under the Law of War we can hold this suspect as a potential enemy combatant not entitled to Miranda warnings or the appointment of counsel. Our goal at this critical juncture should be to gather intelligence and protect our nation from further attacks.

“We remain under threat from radical Islam and we hope the Obama Administration will seriously consider the enemy combatant option.

“We will stand behind the Administration if they decide to hold this suspect as an enemy combatant.”

So now Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the teenage suspect of the Boston Bombings, will, unless cooler heads prevail, be treated as an enemy combatant, and detained indefinitely without trial. Indeed, if these two demented geriatrics are to be understood correctly in their blustering on social media, the boy will almost certainly be tortured in that event.

We can’t let this happen.

It’s hard to believe, in some ways, that it was ever going to come to this.

To a generation raised on the West Wing, this is not exactly how we imagined Washington. Indeed, House of Cards is now probably the more accurate representation of the rotting, suppurating gangrenous wreck that remains of what was once the capital of a great nation.

We didn’t think the US Senate would be capable of voting down reasonable gun control legislation that couldn’t possibly have been more ginger with the second amendment, literally as the victims of the Newtown massacre watched from the gallery. We thought they might feel some shame.

We didn’t think any president would ever consider signing a bill like the NDAA. Which allows the US Military to detain you indefinitely if they deem you to be involved with ‘terrorism.’ We thought he was better than that.

We didn’t think Congress would ever pass a bill that allowed the US Goverment to see what you’re reading right now, and what you’ve written on Facebook, without a warrant. But of course, they have, and we’re only a senate vote and a presidential moment of cowardice away from the US government being able to see what you’re reading right now. We thought that privacy was a right so sacred we didn’t need to be told we had it.

We were wrong.

Though Lindsay Graham is your typical snakeoil shilling scumbag, I will concede to being surprised by John McCain’s decision. I trusted him, once.

Neither, of course, deserves the title of Senator any longer.

But Dzokhar Tsarnaev was a US Citizen. Once a proud title to bear.

Regardless of whether he blew something up at a marathon, this remains true.

His Community are near unanimous in praising him as having been a good kid. As one of his teachers put it, ‘not one of them, one of us.’ He was an all-star wrestler, a scholarship student, and he went to Cambridge Ryndge and Latin School. And frankly? He won’t be the first kid who did something stupid to avoid alienating his douchebag older brother. Even if he did do it.

But that’s not even the point. The point is that he was a US Citizen.

If you’re reading this, and you are too, then don’t read his name in the papers, read yours. Regardless of what you believe, or what he believes. It’s not relevant. Because that 19 year old kid, star of his high school wrestling team, who’s about to be tortured until he says whatever he has to say to make it stop? That could now just as easily be you.

A final frontier has been crossed. America’s government may finally, for the first time in its history, be considering treating its own citizens the way it has treated the citizens of other countries since 2001. As the enemy.

If Dzokhar Tsarnaev did do it? If he bombed the Boston Marathon and killed those people? He should go to jail. If he sincerely meant to do it, understands what he did, and feels no remorse? Then he should never be let out.

But he should still get a trial. And Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and the rest of the traitorous, corrupt, and vicious clique that currently control America’s congress should still be turfed from their seats and decent human beings put in their place. Regardless.

And if you don’t think so? If you think I’m being shrill? If you think they’ll never come for you too?

If you think, someday, if you allow this kind of thing to continue, it won’t eventually be you on the waterboard?

Then I hope you’re right. I really do. But don’t expect sympathy if you turn out to be wrong.

I am Dzokhar Tsarnaev. So are you. American or not, Democrat or Republican. So, in the end, are you.