The Boston Bomber, Superman and the American Way

The Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is arguably most hated man in America. He also may be the man who hates America most. He also believed in America as much as he hated it. He believed in America even more than some other Americans, who claim they love America, believe in America.

He believed in the Superman myth, the one that proclaimed belief in “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

But let us put Tsarnaev aside for a moment. Let us look at the Superman myth and the American way: Superman believed the American Way is embodied in the Sixth Amendment.

The Sixth Amendment is America at its finest – its most noble. It represents, at its core, the ultimate wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers. It is so innate to the enlightened soul of America that we’ve never before questioned it. We took it for granted, at least until 9-11. The events of 9-11 gave anti-American-way people a chance to abrogate the Sixth Amendment, which is the amendment they hate most, without exception.

The Founding Fathers made no exceptions. They could have said, “almost every citizen is covered by it.” They could have said “Nice people are covered by it or… if the case against the accused is strong, if the accused is extremely dangerous, or if you just know that the accused is guilty, then the accused does not pass go, does not collect $200, he goes directly to jail.”

But they didn’t do that. Instead they said that ALL citizens, no matter how vile they are, no matter how hideous they appear, no matter what evil they do – even monsters and homegrown terrorists – have the right to Sixth-Amendment protections. Because the Founding Fathers knew that depriving a single citizen of these rights deprived all citizens of them.

Which brings us back to the most hated man in America, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

When this vile man was finally captured by the police, and questioned by the FBI for sixteen hours straight, he asked to have a lawyer present. But his request was repeatedly denied. It didn’t matter that he was no longer a threat to public safety. That he was no longer an emergency threat to law enforcement or to anyone.

When he asked for a lawyer, he thought that America, the America protected by Superman’s values and the Sixth Amendment, still existed.

He did not realize that things have radically changed. That today Americans are arrested without warrant, convicted without trial, and then whisked away to a dungeon or cage somewhere for the rest of their lives, where they are tortured and/or executed. He didn’t realize that some Americans are even summarily executed without any trial or judicial process whatsoever. That all it takes to lose your freedom or your life in America today is a nod of the head of the president, whether the president be Bush, Obama or… just anyone.

Tsarnaev should have known. But he didn’t. He kept asking for a lawyer.

That must have made his interrogators laugh. But they probably laughed too soon.

He finally got his wish, not because the Justice Department or Obama or the FBI or the Boston Police respected the Sixth Amendment, but because a Federal Magistrate, Marianne B. Bowler, on her own, advised him of his “right to remain silent” and appointed him a lawyer.

I guess she figured that since the Sixth Amendment says, “In ALL CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State … and to HAVE THE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL FOR HIS DEFENSE,” it gives even someone as vile as the Boston Bomber the right to an attorney. She no doubt believed that Tsarnaev was probably guilty as hell. But she did not believe that that “fact” gave anyone – not the president nor anyone in Washington or the FBI – the right to deny him his rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

That makes Ms. Marianne Bowles a hero. A Sixth-Amendment hero.

But she made some people mad. Politicians like Rep. Mike Rogers, a republican from Michigan, and Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, are already condemning Ms. Bowler’s action. They are saying it was her fault that Tsarnaev stopped talking when he got his rights. They think she actually didn’t protect American values but endangered them.

They want to take her down.

Republicans and some Democrats hate the Sixth Amendment so much that they have blocked almost every nominee to the Federal Courts that the Democratic administration has proposed. No matter that Obama has compromised the Sixth Amendment repeatedly. That he has quietly taken the Sixth Amendment farther off the table than even George W. Bush. They just don’t trust the fact that he doesn’t put the destruction of the Sixth Amendment in America’s face. To win the trust of the far, far right, he would have to talk more fear, more hatred. He would have to talk a lot more trash.

They want a leader who proposes to formally eliminate all citizens rights from the constitution altogether. They want an anti-Sixth Amendment leader they can completely trust.

During interrogation, Tsarnaev – who was willing to kill and maim innocents because he hated America – asked for his rights as an American citizen. He mistakenly thought that the American way – that myth perpetuated by the story of Superman – was still in play.

What a fool. No one reads Superman anymore.a