Boston Marathon Bombing / Sacco Vanzetti
There are several poignant similarities existent between the trial of Saaco & Vanzetti, which took place in the early part of the 20th century, and in the bombing of the Boston Marathon and its aftermath, which took place in the early part of the 21st century. Both events involved immigrants. During the epoch in which both events occurred, there was a social climate in the United States in which the respective immigration groups involved in both of these two events was feared. Additionally, there were significant political occurrences taking place during each respective event that both justified and magnified the aforementioned fears. Finally, each of these events resulted in death and a widespread panic (for varying periods of time) across the country. Although there were also some pointed differences existing in these two events -- such as the fact that one of the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing was murdered before he could be captured -- the similarities are significant and certainly worthy of investigation and analysis.
The most significant similarity existing between these two occurrences which took place nearly 100 years from one another is the demographic information for the perpetrators involved. Interestingly enough, in both events there were two men charged with a crime that was largely considered a political act of terrorism. Most importantly, however, each pair of perpetrators were immigrants to the United States. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were both Italians who had recently come to the country when they were implicated in the murder of two guards and the robbery of a shoe factory. In fact, it was partly due to their nationality that led police officers to term them as "suspicious characters" (YOUR SOURCE) and to arrest them. In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who had immigrated from Europe as well, were implicated in numerous crimes including bombing the popular race, murdering a police officer, as well as car jacking and robbing an individual. However, it was not the European background of these two immigrants that was most eminent regarding their involvement in this case -- instead it was their religion. Both of these young men were Muslims, a fact which has gained increasing scrutiny, if not outright notoriety, during the past several years for a number of reasons (Foster, 2013). Still, the fact that both of the pairs involved in these crimes were considered different from conventional Americans -- Sacco and Vanzetti because of their immigrant status and their nationality, the Tsarnaev brothers because of their immigrant status and their religious conviction -- is extremely notable, and the most telling similarity between these affairs.
In order to best understand the similarity in the social climate in which both of these crimes occurred, it is first necessary to understand the political climate which played a substantial role in shaping the social climate. During the 1920s, the aftermath of the Russian Revolution was still fairly new. From a political perspective -- especially when considered in wake of a global state of affairs -- the threat of communism had a degree...
This threat was perceived as perhaps even more valid due to the recent ending of World War I (The New York Times). Although this martial encounter did not specifically pertain to communism (especially since Russia was one of the participants in it), it still influenced the political climate and reinforced the idea that anything could happen in the world at any particular time. In the contemporary times in which the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath took place, the U.S. is involved in what it terms a War on Terror. Specifically, America is involved in a process of systematically going around the world and identifying and attempting to exterminate terrorists and terrorist activities. This war had some notable battles in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq. The War on Terror, the majority of the locations in which it is being waged, and the perception of the combatants in this War all contributed to the social climate in which this crime was committed. Thus, one of the most remarkable similarities between the Sacco-Vanzetti case and the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath is that both of these events took place during times in which politically, there were salient wars (and revolutions for the former) taking place.
The political environments in which each of these crimes were committed produced a profound social impact in the country. During the time that the Sacco-Vanzetti affair happened, the U.S. was still recovering from the effects of the so-called Red Scare (The New York Times). The Red Scare, of course, was communism and the fear that gripped that U.S. that there would be a communist revolution spontaneously occurring within its borders at any particular given time. There were a number of assassination attempts made during this era, which helped to heighten the feeling of terror that shook the countryside (The New York Times). Additionally, this from of terrorism largely revolved around foreigners. Since the wars and revolution of the time period were centered in Europe, European immigrants, and intellectuals were sometimes the victims of nativism -- a paranoid sense of fear of people that were not from a particular place (like the U.S.). The social climate in which the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath took place in is also influenced by a nativism and a fear of Muslims. The vast majority of countries that the U.S. has targeted in its War on Terror have populations that are largely Muslim. There are even some people who believe that this war is really a religious one and an attempt for the U.S. To eradicate religious perspectives at variance with its primarily Judeo-Christian one. In any event, the social climate within the 1920s and the early part of 21st century is nearly identical. During both epochs Americans fostered a fear of terrorists that are part of specific demographic groups: in the former era that was Italians; in the latter era it is Muslims.
Another fairly noteworthy distinction that characterizes both of these events is the involvement of the law, which had some highly doubtful aspects of its involvement in both instances. It would have been extremely difficult for Sacco and Vanzetti to receive a fair trial due to all of the widespread feeling of nativism and of anti-Itallian hatred that characterized the 1920's. Americans are supposed to be judged by a group pf their peers that are non-partisan -- it would have been fairly difficult to find any such Americans who were not aware of the growing hype and paranoia that the Red Scare produced. In fact, one might even argue that the two men were not on trial; their political convictions were. Each of the men on trial had an alibi that placed them relatively far away from the scene of the crime during the time it took place. However, in attempting to establish their motives for allegedly committing such a vicious crime, they were asked about their political views. Each of the men acknowledged the fact that they were actually anarchists (D'Attilio). In this respect, then, the fact that they were convicted despite substantial doubt about their involvement in this crime indicates that their true crime was their political views -- which were extremely unpopular and not the least bit scary to more than a few Americans. More importantly, the fact that they were possibly convicted for their political opinions suggests that there were some sketchy aspects of the law enforcement process during their trial.
There also appears to be similar seedy proceedings in law enforcement that was related to the Boston Marathon, its aftermath, and in events that preceded it. According to a report found…
D'Atillo, Robert. "Sacco-Vanzetti Case." www.writing.upenn.edu No date. Web. http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/sacvan.html
Foster, Peter. "Boston Bomber Arrested: Tamerlan Tsarnaev's hateful rage behind American dream." The Telegraph. 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10007975/Boston-bomber-arrested-Tamerlan-Tsarnaevs-hateful-rage-behind-American-dream.html
The New York Times. "Sacco and Vanzetti Executed in Boston." www.learning.blogs.nytimes.com 2011. Web. http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/aug-23-1927-sacco-and-vanzetti-executed-in-boston/
Zalkind, Susan. "The Murders Before the Marathon." Boston Magazine. 2014. Web. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2014/02/25/waltham-murders-boston-marathon/
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