The Tsarnaev family had been battered by history before—by empire and the strife of displacement, by exile and emigration. Asylum in a bright new land proved little comfort. When Anzor fell sick, a few years ago, he resolved to return to the Caucasus; he could not imagine dying in America. He had travelled halfway around the world from the harrowed land of his ancestors, but something had drawn him back. The American dream wasn’t for everyone. What they could not anticipate was the abysmal fate of their sons, lives destroyed in a terror of their own making. The digital era allows no asylum from extremism, let alone from the toxic combination of high-minded zealotry and the curdled disappointments of young men. A decade in America already, I want out.
Tellingly, Tamerlan also says he has no American friends. It is a statement that the media jumped on, but the second half of that statement is the more illuminating one: “I don’t understand them.” This is not surprising. I moved to America from Russia when I was 7, spent my entire conscious life and education here, am fully assimilated and consider myself American, and I often don’t understand Americans. It’s no wonder that Tamerlan couldn’t make sense of them either. Based on what’s known of when the Tsarnaevs came to the U.S., he was either 15 or 17. Immigration is hard at any age, but it is especially difficult when you are a teenager, when your mind and body is changing and you are struggling to come to grips with who you are. For Tamerlan, national identity was thrown into the heady mix, and he seems to have stuck with the one he knew his whole life: Muslim Chechen. The fact that history has made that definition an uneasy one cannot be irrelevant.
Catholism is very divided right now between those who want to emphasize
Catholic teachings about service to the poor and critiques about economic
distribution and those who want to emphasize its teachings on social behavior.
I'm in the economic distribution camp and am hopeful that the new pope will
move the church in that direction.
But the proof is in the pudding. Let's see
Things are great this morning. I have a ton to blog about and a long list of "good" chores. God, I'm happy that February is done. Which is a weird way to lead up to this story.
The New York Times reports that researchers have finally counted up the number of death camps, slave labor centers, ghettos, and brothels that existed in Nazi Germany. The number? 42,500.
Why didn't anybody properly document these numbers before?
This number is important for a lot of reasons. First, it shows that nobody in Germany could honestly claim that they didn't realize that Nazi were killing Jews. Second, it helps survivors and their relatives in court. Third, it shows how much resources the Germans devoted towards genocide. Could they have won the war, if they hadn't been so hell-bent on killing people? Fourth, numbers are important. It gives a way of conceptualizing the horror.
The Times put this article online on Friday and we've been talking about it for four days.
When you break down student performance by social class, a more complicated, yet more hopeful, picture emerges, highlighted by two pieces of good news. First, our most disadvantaged students have improved their math scores faster than most comparable countries. Second, our most advantaged students are world-class readers.
Thomas Friedman's favorite country, Taiwan, is center stage in his column this week. He writes that countries that have few naturual resources, like Taiwan, are forced to invest in the skills of their people. That's why countries like Japan, India, and Israel have well educated citizens, but countries with large oil supplies and other natural resources have poorly educated citizens. Education later translates into economic success for the entire nation.
Friedman is right about a few things. An educated citizenry is more important than natural resources in creating a wealthy nation. Some countries do invest more in education and have a culture that is oriented toward academic success, while others don't.
But Friendman is also wrong about other things. First of all, comparing education between countries is tricky. Does the entire population take the test or only an elite group of children? Is the population diverse? Do the schools have a different educational philosphy than the one on the test?
Some countries, like the US, do a very good job educating one portion of the population, but utterly fail at educating the test. We have oil. So, why do we do a good job with one part of the population and not the other?
I can't get too annoyed at Friedman though. If fear of becoming obsolete makes us improve our education system, why complain?