What Happened to Messala – Part 2

Sometimes it’s what people don’t say that is the most revealing …

When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev finally broke his silence at sentencing, the response was strong and all over the map. We reacted to what was said as well as what was left unsaid.

When a life is taken in self-defense, we can understand that, even when we don’t agree with it. When terrible accidents cause death and destruction, we understand them to be an unfortunate part of life, even as we mourn.

The bombing of the Boston Marathon was a brutal and senseless act, indefensible no matter how you looked at it. The collective “why” was swift and loud.

People speculated as to whether or not Dzhokhar would address the court at final sentencing. Some thought a statement from him would finally bring understanding, maybe even start the healing process. Many thought it would be a bad idea. To others, it didn’t matter.

I was shocked to hear that Dzhokhar intended to make a statement, believing the best advice from his attorneys would have been to remain silent. I was not prepared for what he had to say.

He was.

When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spoke at sentencing, he took responsibility for the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

Or did he?

Two statements from his overall remarks had the most impact on me. The first one is obvious, the second, not so much.

“Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of – if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother…”

I believe Dzhokhar’s “confession” was nothing of the sort. I see it as a message to discourage and ultimately silence those who still support him. And I do not believe this “message” is coming from Dzhokhar or anyone else who has his best interests in mind.

I do not intend to comply.

If Dzhokhar had made that statement before the beginning of sentencing deliberations, the timing would have made sense, the motivation would have been obvious, and I would have heartbrokenly believed him.

As it is, he spoke at a time when his words could have no impact on the outcome. That gets my attention, makes me wonder.

The wording and sentence structure sounds like the opening and closing statements. The alternating between “you told me” with “you told us” is strange. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with his attorneys helping him draft a statement as important as this one.

However, when you factor in what was not said, along with the statements made by Carmen Ortiz after sentencing, a fuller picture begins to be seen.

Dzhokhar knows the million dollar question on everyone’s lips is “Why?”

He never went there… or did he?

“Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah.”

As soon as Dzhokhar started talking, it was clear he is a Muslim. I found it odd that he later spelled it out for us. Then Carmen Ortiz made her remarks at the press conference:

He didn’t renounce terrorism. He didn’t renounce violent extremism.”

Maybe Carmen is the type who needs everything spelled out for her. I think the rest of us understood that when Dzhokhar said he was sorry, he was, in fact, renouncing terrorism and violent extremism. That is, if he thinks that is the reason for the bombing and wants you to think that as well.

Actually, Dzhokhar gave no explanation for the bombing other than the explanation I believe he was pressured to give:

“Now I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam…”

He may have deliberately on purpose left out the other two statements Carmen expected to hear, but at least he got this one in there to help keep the government-sponsored Islamophobia going.

If I sound cynical, it’s only because I am.

Carmen Ortiz could have expressed her dissatisfaction differently. She could have simply bemoaned the fact that he said he was sorry without offering to explain why they did it. Instead, she seemed to answer the question for him, and very specifically.

Was Dzhokhar smart enough to deliberately leave out answering “why?” Was he also smart enough to deliberately omit renouncing terrorism and violent extremism as he had been told to do? I stated in Part 1 that I believe Dzhokhar did not renounce terrorism and violent extremism because he never embraced them in the first place.

I believe he understands how badly people need to know why the bombing happened. I believe he did not tell us because to do so would have meant revealing that which the government is willing to silence him forever to keep hidden.

He knew his future, already bleak, would be darker still if he told us why the bombing happened. The “why” would have revealed the “who” and it was not him. So he said only half of what he had been told to say. Smart kid.

In the movie Ben-Hur, Messala is the boyhood-friend-turned-evil-betrayer who nearly destroys Judah Ben-Hur and his entire family. Messala was the picture of rank and privilege, power and corruption.

What happened to Messala? What happened to someone who held all the cards, someone who knowingly sentenced an innocent man to death in the gallows and thought he got away with it, only to see the condemned return, a free man, after a miraculous turn of events exonerated him? What happened to this vicious, evil monster who called evil good and good evil?

He was crushed to death under Judah Ben-Hur’s chariot wheels.

Why did I title this two-part blog post “What Happened to Messala?”

Sometimes it’s what people don’t say that is the most revealing …

7 thoughts on “What Happened to Messala – Part 2”

  1. I feel with your story that I’m not the only one who thought his ‘confession’ was written for him. For some reason I did not buy it one bit. Only God knows the truth and one day it shall be revealed!! Great Read Lynn…like always!

  2. Laurel Sweet from the Boston Herald tweeted , told Howie Carr on his radio program & repeated it in her written reporting all on 6-24-15:

    Laurel J. Sweet ‏@Laurel_Sweet
    #Tsarnaev speaks in a soft voice, a thick Russian accent, identifies himself as a Muslim.
    10:58 AM – 24 Jun 2015

    Jahar, the rear Jahar speaks in standard English, with no discernible accent-ask his teacher who testified.

  3. Sybil, I believe Dzhokhar’s mention of his family was very telling. His family and their safety is his main concern. Charges against his sister were dropped just as the case against him was drawing to a close.

  4. How much more bleak or dark can it get for him? He was sentenced to DEATH. He could have said ANYTHING at his sentencing. Nobody would have stopped him, and his sentence would still be DEATH.

    1. I think the hardest kind of trial we can encounter in life is the trial where you have the initial incident and then you survive that. Just when you think are adjusting to that terrible blow, the next one hits. Before you can recover from that one, the next blow is hitting you. Most people finally get to a place of overwhelming pain. I don’t know where Jahar is on the mental and emotional pain scale right now but I do know this: God loves him and He will not let Jahar suffer one second longer than He decides is necessary. Within that prison cell, I believe Jahar is encountering Almighty God and that he is not only being sustained and comforted but transformed into the young man God wants Jahar to be in order to fulfill the destiny God will be showing him lies ahead. I am not willing to believe that the only thing ahead for Jahar is suffering, loneliness and death!

  5. So powerful Lynn!! So beautifully written, as usual. What a gift you have! Dzhokhar is indeed a smart young man and said what he said for a reason, as you have pointed out. I hope it all plays out just as you have suggested here. Sometimes truth, as well as justice, do prevail over time as I hope and pray it will in this case.

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