As more facts slowly come to light about the Boston Marathon bombers, it feel in some ways we wind up with more questions than answers. Here, after all, were two young men who to all outward appearances were the model of American immigrants. They spoke excellent English, did well in American schools, were liked and respected by their peers, and even expressed the sort of dreams many of us might have, at least in the case of the elder brother Tamerlan, who wished to box for the U.S. Olympic team. How could two such apparently bright and upstanding kids turn into mass-murderers with anti-American motivations?
John O’Sullivan over at NRO wonders the same thing. O’Sullivan compares the Tsarnaev brothers to the four young men from Yorkshire, England, who killed 50 people in the London subway bombing of 2005, and hits upon what I believe is a vital, but overlooked point when it comes to assimilation, that being the common lack of patriotism and love of country.
When I was a kid growing-up, I was un-ashamedly taught in school that America was a great country, the best in the world. I was also taught the reasons why this was so: that we believe in liberty and the rule of law, that we believe in tolerance and equality of opportunity. The youth of today grow up hearing a different message, I suspect. A message that America is not a great country. To quote our president, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, our own president doesn’t believe we are any better than anyone else. Our culture in fact is filled with ever more prominent people making the case that America not only isn’t so great, it’s downright bad. And it is into this environment young immigrants are trying to assimilate. As O’Sullivan writes of the London Subway bombers:
“So young men, with the usual propensity of young men to want to identify with patriotic and idealistic causes, had been told that there was nothing admirable or heroic about being British. It was a sort of swindle, and one, moreover, that had been perpetrated especially upon people of their ethnic backgrounds.”
O’Sullivan goes on to talk about how America has failed in exactly the same way Britain has, but here he has touched upon perhaps the greatest flaw running throughout leftist political philosophy: the failure to accept and appreciate human nature. The reality of human nature is the reason why leftist economic ideas always fail so miserably, why leftist governments always become illiberal, if not tyrannical, and in this case, why cultural assimilation has failed so miserably. Of course young men (and women!) yearn for noble, idealistic, heroic causes, leaders and ideas. They always have. This is why even today, so many political and religious movements focus so strongly on youth. It is why the Hitler Youth was formed, as well as the Young Pioneers of Communism, which still today populate Castro’s Cuba. It is why Jihadis so avidly recruit the young. All these ideologies recognize how vital it is to capture the minds and hearts of the young, because once done, such recruits are not easily turned. It’s human nature.
Western leftism has not forgotten the importance of indoctrinating the youth with desired, ideological messages. On the contrary, there are many, many examples of this. Disney’s recent revival of the Muppets, or Cars 2, both of which vilify “Big Oil” are two examples of leftist indoctrination. There are literally hundreds more. The failure of leftist philosophy is not that they don’t recognize this aspect of human nature, it’s their belief they can and should change it. Along the way there has however been this unintended consequence. By pressing the message among our youth that America is not exceptional, noble or virtuous, that indeed America is a bad place, a country guilty of grievous and unforgivable sins, they have left what O’Sullivan sees as a vacuum for assimilating youth from other cultures. Although they learn our language, are educated in our schools, and adopt our culture, they also adopt the ideas that America is guilty of exploiting other countries and peoples, that we are arrogant and high-handed, that we have much to apologize for. Or even that we deserve to be punished.
Brought up on a steady diet of such messaging from the left, it’s little wonder that the Tsarnaev brothers were so ready to be radicalized by an anti-American Islamic message, as is appears what happened.