Rolling Stone: Cutting edge or cutting deep?

HOUSTON. July 26. KAZINFORM I had to look three times to make sure I was really seeing Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone has featured any number of cutting-edge figures in past stories as an expression of its dedication to "serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day." But Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Really?

What does it mean when a publication like Rolling Stone makes a poster child out of an accused terrorist? Most reactions to the Rolling Stone cover have been angry. As a Bostonian and a human being, I feel the pain and outrage. After all, for those of us who live and work in Boston, the cover strikes at the heart, making a profit out of profound human tragedy.

But perhaps the Rolling Stone controversy presents us with an opportunity to renew what it means to be Boston Strong.

Emotions in Boston are running high. Some have read Rolling Stone's attempt to explain Tsarnaev. But for most others, visceral reactions to the photo seem to have precluded any discussion of the article accompanying it. Reacting to Rolling Stone's portrayal, some have stated outright that Boston will "never forgive" or denounced it as the "glorification of evil." Still others, in either a misguided belief that humanization means absolution, or perhaps out of disbelief that someone so innocent looking could be behind such atrocities, are gathered outside the Moakley Federal Courthouse in South Boston, chanting "Free Jahar," citing conspiracy theories - and sparking more outrage.
Perhaps, we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves: how can we respond so that neither anger, nor the glorification of extremism, rules the day?

After all, Boston isn't strong because of anger, hatred or desire for vengeance.
Boston is strong because we came together as one. Rather than allowing terrorists to divide us politically, ethnically or religiously, we used our voices, money, actions and hearts to make our own statement in the days that followed the bombings. We stood together as a community in solidarity, caring and, yes, defiance. We created the One Fund Boston to assist the victims and their families, and held a concert to celebrate our city. We took back the streets in charity walks and runs. We refused to allow hatred and fear to divide and conquer us.

We mobilized to be the change we wanted to see in the world. Christian, Muslim and Jew, African-American, Hispanic and white, male and female, religious, political and community leaders all stood together to honor the victims and pledged that we wouldn't allow terrorists to take away the core of our American identity - united we stand.

Every one of us had something to contribute then. And we have even more that we can contribute now in memory of that terrible day.

In response to the loss of life and limb, we can give blood and learn emergency first aid and CPR. We can help with home renovations for those who are now wheelchair-bound or handicapped. We can volunteer to help the homebound carry out activities in their daily life, like going to medical appointments, running errands or preparing a home-cooked meal. We can continue to reach out to the marginalized and disconnected in our community. That's Boston Strong.

Just as we seek to share the beauty of American culture and values, so we can also open our minds to other cultures, languages and religions. We can speak out against injustice, hatred and violence wherever we encounter it. We can be the bridge to the community - and nation - we want to become. That's Boston Strong.

Unlike terrorists who are willing to kill to send their message, let us use this opportunity to rededicate ourselves to purposeful living and renew our identity as Boston Strong.

Terrorists tried to create division through death and destruction on 15 April. It is up to us to have the last word in favor of life and unity.

• This article was written for the Common Ground News Service.


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