We as Americans have a special opportunity set before us.
The arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last Friday evening brought Boston, and the country on whole, a much-needed end to a reign of terror. The 19-year-old is accused of perpetrating the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with his now deceased brother, Tamerlan.
Tsarnaev, who is currently hospitalized with a severe neck wound, was charged with his crimes Monday and could face the death penalty if he's convicted. While his fight against the United States is over, our fight as American citizens has just begun.
Once more, we are confronted with the task of responding to another cowardly act of terrorism on American soil. However, this response won't be measured by the might of our armed forces, but the resilience of the American people.
Unlike the aftermath of September 11th, armies will probably not be mobilized, nor should nations be invaded. Investigations will continue, but another war fought in a distant land doesn't seem to be coming down the pipe. Even so, we as Americans must rally around our flag and defend what makes this country so great like we do every time an individual or nation chooses to test the strength and resilience of the United States and its people.
This, however, is a complicated battle, for in defending the guiding principles of our nation, we must embrace the opportunity to do so without hatred, discrimination, or generalization. This country is built upon a set of laws devoted to protecting the rights of individuals from an overreaching government, making sure that one's future is not determined by the wrath of an angry electorate, but rather the result of a deliberate legal procedure.
But what does this all mean for the average American citizen?
First and foremost, we must embrace the ongoing investigation into these crimes with level heads, making sure that the actions of two do not reflect on the lives of millions. The older, deceased Tsarnaev brother was investigated by the FBI in 2011 at the Russian government's request, and there are early indications that the bombings might have been motivated by radical Islamic thought, a perversion of a religion some Americans have disparaged and vilified at the expense of million, peaceful citizens.
The actions of the Tsarnaev brothers could very well be tied to a larger, more deep-seated threat to the nation, but regardless of whether they are or aren't, we must not let Islam and those who practice it be victimized as they were after September 11th. Furthermore, we must resist internal and external urges to throw our legal system by the wayside and undermine the efforts of the valiant police officers and agents that have worked and will continue to work on solving this case.
We must not grant legitimacy to the requests of those like Greg Ball, a New York state senator who thinks that Tsarnaev should be tortured for information. We must resist tying the Tsarnaevs' actions to the incredibly complex legal debates surrounding gun control and immigration reform. Finally, we must resist denying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev any right he is due in court as an American citizen, an enemy combatant, or whatever else he may be in the eyes of the United States government.
Terrorism is based on exposing the weaknesses of the United States, exploiting them at the cost of innocent lives, and unleashing a pall of terror over this country as means of undermining its most important principles. To quell terrorism, we must show rationality when rage is building, restraint when wrath is tempting, and faith when hope is dwindling. We must show Tsarnaev and those who sympathize with him that you can knock the American people down, but you can never prevent them from getting back up. Most importantly, we must prove that these ways of life and legal institutions that those brothers tried to dismantle are far too strong to be destroyed with fear and cowardice.
The investigators will investigate, lawyers will litigate and politicians will postulate, but it is up to us as students and Americans to prove once more that our will and rationale cannot be destroyed.
We have a special opportunity to do this right now. Are you willing to embrace it?