Undoubtedly, the capture of Boston marathon bombing "Suspect #2"--as named by law enforcement--has quickly brought the issue of Islamic terrorism to the forefront.
When it comes to terror threats, Americans have become somewhat complacent since the 9/11 attacks of over a decade ago. While Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups like it have conducted numerous deadly civilian attacks in other parts of the world, the U.S. has largely been spared high profile attacks of this nature.
Until the Boston Marathon. With images of the deadly pressure cooker bombs literally exploding before our eyes, transforming a celebration into the chaos of horror, Americans were reminded again that we are still targeted, still vulnerable to acts of terror.
I applaud Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley for urging Bostonians and Americans not to use the attacks as a reason to discriminate, harass or judge Muslims or immigrants in general. The story is much deeper than that.
The story of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 year-old "Suspect #1", bears a striking resemblance to the stories of other mass murderers whose cause may not be Islam, but whose acts are just as terrifying and deadly.
Tamerian spent his early childhood bouncing from home to home as the family tried to escape violence in their country. At 14, he and his 7 year-old brother moved to the U.S. as refugees, without their parents. Unlike his younger brother, Tamerian did not fit in at his high school, at one time saying he didn't have a single American friend. As the first-born of an Eastern European family sent to this country with the expectation to succeed in every way, he never did meet the expectations. He moved from school to school, job to job. He had alcohol problems, was violent towards women, and was arrested and convicted of domestic abuse against his wife in 2009.
An alienated kid who can't fit in. Parents who are absent, in this case physically. Low achievement in school and/or workplace. Mental health problems, in this case uncontrolled anger and substance abuse. The desire to make a mark, culminating in the deadly attack.
Forget Islam. These are the kinds of characteristics present in the Columbine killers. The Colorado theater shooter. Inner city police would recognize them as present in gang members who also engage in violence.
Well-adjusted people simply do not do these things.
Our nation's law enforcement needs to find out from Suspect #2 as much as possible about how and why his older brother became radicalized in Islam. How it was that he, Suspect #2, went along with his brother despite not being plagued with his brother's issues? From there, perhaps, we can gain more insight into how Islamic terror groups recruit mainly young men to engage in what ultimately become suicide missions.
Beyond that, however, we really need to look at our society as a whole. Why are so many people, especially young people, feeling alienated? Some will say poverty or unemployment, but such things existed in the Great Depression and the vast majority of people managed to hold it together without a safety net in conditions that were worse than we can imagine.
There is something deeper than that. It goes to family ties. It goes to the culture that surrounds us.
And yes, it goes to God and goodness and the lines to be drawn between good and evil.
It's ironic that the great evil of the Boston bombings was perpetrated by what a couple of young men thought was the name of God. Perhaps that is the greatest evil of all, when mankind does unspeakable things in the name of religion, and religion is used as a rallying cry to perpetrate horrible acts.
What we need to be most critical of is not the faith of Islam, but of any group who preys upon the young and alienated to commit acts of evil--and of the society in which such groups can thrive.