The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Higher Education’s Role in the Boston Marathon Attack


So, UMass-Dartmouth, you have a campus where one student decided to place a bomb next to a child and blow up marathoners, and several of his friends, also students, learned of his actions, and then turned around and tried to help him by destroying evidence.

This is on a college campus, a place where “tolerance” is considered the supreme value. Yet somehow, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev never learned to tolerate the existence of American children watching a marathon. Somehow his friends managed to find blowing up Americans tolerable. However, they couldn’t quite tolerate a successful FBI investigation leading to the capture or arrest of Tsarnaev.

Just what were these students learning, seeing, and experiencing on that campus? What made Tsarnaev believe that blowing people up was okay? Why didn’t he encounter any person or group or place that would stir a sense of moral objection in him, if indeed it was his brother who first proposed the attack? Why didn’t he encounter anything that would make him think, “wait a minute, no, hating Americans and trying kill them is wrong”?

Why didn’t these other students react with horror at the thought that their friend could be a terrorist? Why didn’t they call the cops or FBI? Why was their first instinct to help their friend, instead of helping the authorities take a dangerous bomb-maker off the streets?

How did all of these young man fail to encounter one professor, one mentor, one role model, one person around them who would lead them to conclude that mass murder is wrong, and those who do it ought to be punished?

The culture on the campus of UMass-Dartmouth didn’t create the monster that Tsarnaev became, nor did it make his friends into moral pygmies. But that campus atmosphere sure failed to mitigate any of this, didn’t it?

Tags: Boston Marathon Bombing


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review