A version of this article first appeared in The Washington Monthly on April 21, 2013.
Apparently on Friday, before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended, Sen. Lindsey Graham was already torquing up the hysteria by taking the position that Tsarnaev not receive his Miranda warning before being interrogated. Graham—who, not to imply anything from this, is one of those lucky men who can go into any barbershop and the get the exact look he wants simply by saying, “I’d like the Adolf Hitler haircut”—tweeted “If captured I hope [the] Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as [an] enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.” He then added “The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to ‘remain silent.’”
The Brothers Tsarnaev will never be known as anything but terrorists, but Boston certainly doesn’t look a town that has been terrorized to me. Defiant? Sure. Inspired? Definitely. There’s a kind of a civic euphoria arising from the realization that town came through this blow with strength and intelligence and courage. From the first responders on Monday, to the individuals who opened their homes to stranded runners, to the full-throated expression of patriotism that infused the way Bruins fans sang the national anthem, to an exemplary performance by the law enforcement authorities, Boston has a lot to be proud of. “This is our fucking city, and nobody’s going to dictate our freedom,” said David Ortiz, the Red Sox’s Big Papi, before a roaring crowd at Fenway Park. They didn’t look terrorized to me.
It’s the Lindsey Grahams who are terrorizing people by suggesting that this threat maybe might possibly be so enormous that we have to deny Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights as an American citizen. This is a page straight out of the Bush-Cheney playbook, the idea that we have to start throwing away our most important values and traditions in order to be secure.
It’s nonsense. Denying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights won’t improve my safety. Let’s face it: if I really wanted to improve my safety, I would lose twenty pounds.