Georgetown Professor: Tamerlan Tsarnaev Motivated as Much By Rap as Jihad

An angry and violent jihadist who also loves rap -- gee, who could see that one coming?

As part of MSNBC's ardent efforts over the weekend to downplay any possible connection between the religion that can't be named and the Boston Marathon bombings, Rachel Maddow spoke with Georgetown University professor Charles King, author of "The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus." (Video after page break)

So much more than radical Islam may have played a role in motivating the Tsarnaev brothers, King suggested --

MADDOW: A lot of people are trying to figure out if these men, uh, were terrorists who were radicalized overseas, if they were terrorists who were radicalized here, if this was totally unrelated to terrorist and, to terrorist causes. Do you think there will be a definitive answer with regard to their Chechen heritage in terms of whether that's relevant and explanatory here?

KING: Well, I think it's relevant to a degree. That is to say that, these guys grew up in a particular kind of community with a particular kind of history. They had a certain kind of background, but at the end of the day if we're looking for motivation for this particular act, I think it's going to lie in the way that they were radicalized in the United States, on the Internet, visiting chat rooms, putting their own kind of lives into some kind of narrative about this nihilistic, millenarian, sort of anti-Western, anti-modern, uh, jihadist ideology that you find in lots of different kinds of communities around the world.

MADDOW (quickly jumping to accused jihadists' defense): If they, if they did.

KING: If they did. We still don't know.

MADDOW: We have some evidence of a YouTube page that we think may connect to the older brother that posted some radicalized YouTube clips. The younger brother, there's very thin evidence of anything.

KING: Well, and keep in mind that on his, on the elder brother's, Tamerlan's YouTube channel, there are an equal number of rap videos.

MADDOW (her spirit briefly lifted): Yeah.

KING: So, you know, I don't know why we tend to focus on this one particular aspect because these guys frankly have a lot of consonants in their names and we're kind of worried about that somehow (what this "we're" stuff, paleface?). But in lots of other contexts of mass killing, we go to other kinds of motivations and I think we really ought to look at those in this case as well.

Agreed, there are many other possible motives that remain to be explored. And what better place to do that than MSNBC, where they always lean forward except when bending over backward to avoid the truth.

For example, many Chechens want to secede from Russia. Did the tea party-led secessionist movement in the US, the one we keep hearing so much about on MSNBC but not actually seeing anywhere else, compel the Tsarnaev brothers to bomb the Boston Marathon?

Another avenue worth exploring -- Barack Obama is our nation's first black president. (OK, possibly second after Harding). The Tsarnaev brothers are not only white, they're Caucasian -- a two-fer, if you will. Did their whiteness, squared, push these men over the edge? Certainly not beyond the pale. (MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry already pursuing this with characteristic vigor).

Or how about this -- the bombings occurred just as worst of the sequester spending cuts were taking effect. Coincidence?

King's attempt to shift attention from the religion that can't be named -- did you notice that frog in his throat when he uttered the dreaded word "jihadist"? -- reminded me this story in the Boston Globe -- "Islam might have had secondary role in Boston Marathon attacks."

Got that? "Might" have played "secondary" role.

The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto pounced with some of the best tweets in the last week. A sampling --

"Booze Might Have Had Secondary Role in Hangover" #BostonGlobeHeadlines

"Gravity Might Have Had Secondary Role in Fall" #BostonGlobeHeadlines

"Fault Might Have Had Secondary Role in Quake" #BostonGlobeHeadlines

"The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Might have Secondary Role in Lung Cancer" #BostonGlobeHeadlines

"Brando Might Have Had Secondary Role in 'The Godfather'" #BostonGlobeHeadline

Yeah, that last one's my favorite too.

King also mentioned how the Tsarnaev brothers "grew up in a particular kind of community with a particular kind of history." Turns out they moved to a "particular kind of community" in America with a selective interpretation of recent history. Bad enough for liberals that the Tsarnaevs are foreign-born Muslims and not the tea party conservatives so many left wingers passionately hoped they'd be. Even worse -- the Tsarnaevs ended up living in a "particular kind of community" -- Cambridge, Mass., one of the most liberal places in the United States. It could be worse for the left, I suppose, but only if the Tsarnaevs had taken up residence in Haight-Ashbury, Greenwich Village, or the West Wing.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts