An alleged bomber makes the cover of Rolling Stone; and that may not be a bad thing.

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Is the Rolling Stone cover depicting the younger alleged Boston bombing offensive or though provoking? While hurt and shocked reactions from those who were there and who lost loved ones or were injured in the horrific blasts are easily understandable; the cover may still have a legitimate meaning and purpose.

The young man’s face looking out from the cover doesn’t look like a killer. He could be a young singer emulating his idol, Bob Dylan, he could be the shy but popular guy at your high school, he could be someone you know, your kids know and he could be you. He doesn’t fit the national image of what a terrorist looks like. He is not Arab, that stereotypical sign of terrorist proclivities which too many non-Arabs believe to be true. He is a teenager and not one who was living everyday on the frontlines of terror and violence as too many young people do in places like Palestine, Egypt, and Israel and around the world.

This young man lived here, in America. Going to an American high school, twittering teenage thoughts and jokes with the occasional reference to Islam, with friends who seemingly loved and accepted him. But he was also living here without his parents and he had been close to the front lines of violence and terror in his native home as a younger child. He may have been increasingly influenced by an older brother who seems to have become more extreme and militant in recent years. He may have been trying to find himself and his identity as so many young people struggle to do, trying to reconcile certain ideals with his actions and possibly the demands of religious obedience and loyalty to his homeland with his new casual American life.

If we don’t try to find out how this young man came to be in this situation, if we don’t try to look at what the face of terror really is and who is behind it; then we truly are doing a disservice to all those who were injured and who lost their lives in the Boston bombings. We cannot ignore the suspects and turn a blind eye to who they are for fear of giving them ‘fame’. What they are accused of doing has already, in an irreversible instant, made them infamous forever. Let us now try to learn something and look for where and how the humanity within these men seems to have become so twisted and desperate. We should do this so that we can do what all humanity strives to do in one way or another; to understand our fellow man and ultimately, to help him.

If alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev doesn’t hear his Miranda rights, does it matter?

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America is America because of the freedoms we afford our citizens. We have democratically elected officials, we are allowed to disagree with our government and we speak freely and openly on social, political, and religious topics. When we are accused of crimes we have the right to an attorney, we have the right to remain silent even under interrogation and we are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before a Judge and a jury of our peers. We are not all direct descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims (who were the original immigrants to the indigenous peoples’ land) and many of us, our parents, our grandparents, came to America as immigrants from other countries seeking those very freedoms and adding to the diversity and unique nature of our country. For our government to take those rights away, to tear away the constitutional protections which should be afforded even to a nineteen year old citizen accused of a grisly act of domestic terrorism, shakes the bedrock of constitutional principles which makes our country truly great. We must care about the rights of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. If not for his sake; for ours.

For more on this topic see http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-racial-justice/constitution-applies-all-americans-no-matter-what-they-are