letters | Who is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

We gain from seeking insight into motivations for attack

Kevin Cullen is right when he writes that there was nothing tough about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s character (Metro, April 20). There is no act more heinous and cowardly than the intentional slaughter of innocent civilians. Cullen’s commentary clearly conveys the pain and anger that we all feel in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon attack.

But I was troubled by his tone, and I think he is misguided when he dismisses the coming discussion and debate with the cynical and sarcastic phrase “Get out the violins.” Trying to identify the various factors that may have contributed to the radicalization of members of our own community is not about self-blame, pity for the perpetrators, or an apology for US foreign policy, as Cullen implies.

We have learned a great deal about indigenous radicalization since Sept. 11, 2001, through rigorous study. The knowledge gained has led to reforms that aided in the swift and effective response of law and intelligence officials over the last week.


Better insight can make us stronger, safer, and more resilient as a city and as a nation. Ultimately we hope it will help prevent similar acts in the future.

Get Arguable in your inbox:
Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The analysts, scholars, and journalists who investigate the Tsarnaev brothers’ backgrounds, affiliations, ideologies, social circumstances, and possible motivations will help to better equip our nation to face an insidious and evolving threat.

This work should be welcomed, not disparaged.

Aidan Winn