When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old accused of the Boston Marathon bombings, arrived for his arraignment at a federal courthouse in Boston on Wednesday morning, he rolled in with an entourage -- “a four-vehicle motorcade that included a van, a Humvee and a state police car,” the Associated Press reported -- and was greeted by cheering fangirls.
“About a half-dozen supporters, all young women, wore T-shirts that read ‘Free the Lion’ and ‘Dzhokhar is innocent,’ ” reports the Boston Herald.
One woman, Lacey Buckley, 23, came all the way from Washington state to show her support for Tsarnaev. “I just think so many of his rights were violated. They almost murdered an unarmed kid in a boat,” she told AP of the man she believes is innocent. (Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty on all counts.)
Never mind that three people were killed and hundreds were wounded in the Boston Marathon attacks -- innocent people in a public place. Never mind that in the days after the attack, Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, held the people of Boston hostage and continued on their path of destruction, which included a carjacking and the death of a MIT officer.
These girls were wearing T-shirts adorned with Tsarnaev’s face.
Commenting on Tsarnaev’s fangirls in an Op-Ed in our Opinion pages, Charlotte Allen wrote:
These besotted double-X chromosome-bearers feel sorry for “Jahar,” the nickname he used as a Twitter handle and that is now part of dozens of hashtags (#FreeJahar is a favorite), Facebook pages and Tumblr blogs. The fangirls think Dzkokhar was a naive campus weedhead who fell victim to the influence of his jihad-obsessed 26-year-old brother. Or they think both brothers fell victim to a complex conspiracy, possibly involving the government, to frame them as Muslims for the April 15 bombings. Or they think the officers who apprehended Dzhokhar on April 19 were mean to fire on the boat where he was hiding while he lay unarmed and bleeding inside.
Mostly, though, they think Dzhokhar is cute.
But cute isn't enough to elicit such a devoted fan base. It’s possible that these girls feel a sense of "misplaced maternal sympathy," as Hanna Rosin wrote. Or maybe it’s even simpler than that. Allen opined:
I'm betting that women, young and old, are drawn to Dzhokhar not because he is a good-looking late adolescent but because he is a good-looking accused killer. He's a classic "bad boy" of the sort to whom women are chronically attracted because they want to reform them, or minister to their wounds, or be the healing presence they've never had — but mostly because they find them sexy.
All you have to do is look at the numerous photos of Dzhokhar on the Free Jahar page on Tumblr or in news stories or elsewhere. You won't see a helpless, confused near-child who misses his mommy. You will see a physically imposing (he was a wrestler), exceedingly self-confident young man who is quite aware of his attraction to females — and quite uninterested in abiding by standard social rules (remember that he was allegedly dealing weed in his dorm as well as consuming it in large quantities). In short, Dzhokhar in his photos looks cocky. Women love cocky. […]
In fact, as any evolutionary psychologist can tell you, women, like other female primates, crave dominant "alpha" males who demonstrate the strength to protect them and pass on survival traits to their children. And in a society such as ours, where the phrase "head of the household" is anathema and men are forbidden to dominate in socially beneficial ways, women will seek out assertive, self-confident men whose displays of power aren't so socially beneficial.
Whatever you make of Rosin's or Allen’s theories, you can be glad that the fangirls outside the courthouse Wednesday morning heard at least one voice of reason.
Reports the Boston Herald: “You are disgusting. You’re disgusting,’’ said a passerby. “Don’t you know people died?’’
Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier