Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On the Cover of Rolling Stone

I’m weighing in on the cover of Rolling Stone a bit behind the curve. That happens when a blog posts weekly rather than daily. Weighing in may annoy some followers, but not to wade in would compromise me as Atticus Finch felt compromised if he did not stand up for Tom Robinson: I simply cannot remain silent about Dshohkar Tsarnaev's photo on the cover of Rolling Stone; I must act according to my abilities.

I assert: all who are insulted, outraged, and moved to boycott or protest should calm down. We need another of those long overdue and long awaited conversations about the culture in this nation. We need to restrain our hostilities and outrage, hold in our raw emotions in favor of contemplation about that Rolling Stone cover. We need to ask:

How does a nation as grand as our own create a Timothy McVeigh? How does it nurture Dzhohkar Tsarnaev to join his older brother in a killing rampage? What inspires such violence? How do these two and others like them suffocate their empathy? How can they live with the collateral damage they have done?

Timothy McVeigh's Mug Shot

These are the questions that we must address, and these are the questions that Rolling Stone set before us. Their purpose, as communicated by an MSNBC report, follows.

“Titled ‘The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster,’ the cover story offers a deep account of the one-time UMass-Dartmouth student who went to high school in Cambridge, Mass.”

The covers of magazines and front pages of newspapers often baffle me. Fear splashes cold water in my belly when I see and see again the face of Charles Manson. The madness in his eyes matches the monstrous deeds he set in motion, and I well remember that face on the cover of a newspaper in New York City the morning after the crimes were uncovered. I feel the same fear when photographs of Richard Speck surface. As a girl, I saw the Life magazine story and the shadowy photographs of the rooms he invaded and soiled with the blood of women in the profession of healing. The face of Timothy McVeigh weighs heavily upon my heart as well for I lived and worked close enough to downtown Oklahoma City to see the plume of deadly smoke rise from the ashes. I remember well the words of his first attorney, Stephen Jones, who explained McVeigh’s deeds as the result of a mind incapable of critical thought.

Charles Manson's Mug Shot

As a consequence of being near on April 19, 1995, of living in the Oklahoma City area during that infamous EF5 tornado in 1995, and owning property there when the more recent EF5 cut vacant lots through Moore in 2013, I understand the raw wounds and invisible damages that Bostonians bear. They feel with and for those whose injuries are very visible, and they know the fleeting thoughts about safety when they venture into the marketplace to conduct business, compete, or celebrate.

Richard Speck's Mug Shot

I know that these feelings will never fade completely. The dates in April when so much domestic terror has taken place, the infamous 11th day in September when thousands were forever changed without their will--these dates and events leave scars, but we must discover how to heal. One path to healing is to understand how such designers of terror develop.

We may never completely comprehend the human mind or its beating heart. We may discover that all mass killers lack empathy or the ability to think critically and grant that we will never completely prevent tragedy, but we can evolve to understand and heal. Let us do so. One way to begin is to read what Rolling Stone has reported instead of letting rage or sorrow or fear blind us to what we need to know.