Burying Tsarnaev

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a terrorist. Tamerlan Tsarnaev committed an evil act. Tamerlan Tsarnaev is finally buried—in a Muslim Cemetery in Virginia. But his burial does not undo the controversy about burying him. It took almost two weeks and the appeal of law enforcement before, as the police statement put it, “… a courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to bury the deceased,” which his uncle later called a “faith coalition,” and which turned out to be Martha Mullen, a Methodist who tried to practice Jesus’ “love your enemy”, and who was able to act as intermediary. She emailed several interfaith groups and received a response from the cemetery where Tsarnaev is now buried. The anger, rage and loathing one may feel for what Tsarnaev did are justifiable, but once dead ought he not to receive a minimum of decency? The state of Texas, known for its high number of executions, buries those whose bodies are unclaimed in a cemetery on prison grounds with a service. One reason a Boston public official gave for not burying Tsarnaev in the area was so that his grave would not become a shrine. More likely it would have been desecrated. Still the position was understandable. Burying a terrorist’s body or ashes is not honoring him. It’s the least we owe someone who was once human. It’s a sign that we, unlike him, are capable of decency, charity, and in some cases even forgiveness. Martha Mullen understood that, and so did those who responded to her appeal.