Tamerlan took possession of his Teip. And then he began to kill on behalf of his Teip. You can call it the “Clash of Civilizations” or a clash of clans. At the Boston Marathon, the Tsarneav brothers began killing the members of the Boston Teip or the American Teip in defense of the honor of the Islamic Teip. We can call this sort of thing terrorism, and it is, but it’s also something much more primitive and much less calculated.
The Afghan soldiers murdering American soldiers often do it unprompted and sometimes even without any prior planning. They do it because in tribal cultures honor is complicated and murder is casual. Life is cheap, especially the lives of men without teips.
Americans were under the impression that Tamerlan was a member of Teip America. He wasn’t. Teip America is fine for some some natives, but it was much too big for him. It had no shape or purpose. Nothing for him to claim possession of and defend. Teip America gave him everything for free and wouldn’t even let him fight to take it. Teip America gave him the good life, but took away his honor.
But what does all this Teip talk have to do with the modern world? It is an article of faith that any number of people can come to this country and bring their diverse Teips with them and aside from some picturesque native foods and unique post-colonial grievances, they all become part of the tapestry of Teip America.
Chechnya is a modern place now. Sure it has warlords, kidnappings and Sharia punishments, but who are we to judge them? And Tamerlan Tsarneav grew up in the United States. What could the crazy backward mores of his society, which we mustn’t judge, have anything to with his killing spree? There are more relevant things that we could talk about, like race, class and the availability of parking spaces in Boston.
Even now the politicians begin trooping down to the local mosque to press the flesh with the “moderates” who are the last best hope for preventing another marathon massacre. But what is an American mosque really? Some are still mono-cultural, dominated by Lebanese, Turkish or Bangladeshi immigrants. Many however are more expansive. They are artificial Teips based on religion, rather than nationality or race. Their existence is innately Islamist.
We are not a melting pot or a beautiful tapestry of diversity. What we are is often something more prosaic. Clans. The clans may be broadly defined, but they are still there and if you doubt it, then go try an urban neighborhood that you are not meant to walk. The clan structure is weak and the leaders are often absent. Some clans are full of single mothers and itinerant male warriors. Others are traditionally patriarchal. Some clans form alliances based on language, geography or religion.
That is multiculturalism. It is a clumsy alliance of Teips pretending to represent all the Teips.
Multiculturalism, like most forms of liberal consensus, shut out any contradictory realities. But there are Teips here other than the coalition of community groups united to demand more money for social services centers. There are older Teips in America that come from the desert and the mountains. Teips that care nothing for building more LGBT youth centers and a great deal about honor and territory.
Tamerlan found his Teip in Islam. So have many Islamic terrorists and political Islamists. Their Teip is not one that we talk about. It is the Teip that is at war with all the other Teips. It is at war with the basic idea of Multiteipism that the entire broken system it is trying to topple over is based on. And the story is the same in Europe. It is the same in Canada. It is the same in Australia.
It is the same everywhere.
We can’t talk about this of course because we are modern people and we know that’s not how things work. We know that we are lucky to be living in a society with such rich diversity. Our diversity is our strength. The more divided we become, the stronger we will be. And if occasionally bombs go off or heads fly or planes crash into skyscrapers, we will walk away muttering, “But he was so nice.”