College friends often cover for each other. Term paper not finished on time? "Well, gosh, professor, Bill had a death in the family..."
But three young men in Massachusetts apparently equate that sort of relatively benign nefariousness with something very different. When they learned college chum Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was wanted for using a bomb to help kill three people and maim scores of others, they decided to cover for him.
So they went to his dormitory room, where they found a backpack stuffed with empty fireworks casings. Tsarnaev and his brother apparently used explosives out of the fireworks to build bombs they set off at the Boston Marathon. Tsarnaev's pals removed the backpack and disposed of it because, as one told police, they didn't want him to get in trouble.
Let that sink in for a moment. The three young men do not seem to have terrorist leanings, according to the authorities. They just wanted to help a friend.
Though they seem to be sorry now, for a time they apparently didn't see any difference between helping a buddy get out of a minor scrape with authority and assisting a murderous terrorist. How on earth did that little detail slip past their consciences?
Psychologists and sociologists need to get on this one right away. The implications of what happened are among the most disturbing aspects of the Boston bombing.
We need to know much more about what prompted the students to help Tsarnaev. Is nationality a factor? Two of the students were, like Tsarnaev, originally from southern Russia. The third, however, came to the U.S. many years ago with his mother, from Ethiopia.
Is it religion? The two young Russian students are Muslims - but the Ethiopian native and his mother have been described as devout Christians.
So what's going on, here? What prompted the three young men to give blind allegiance to Tsarnaev? Was it something like the dedication young gang members have toward their vicious, murderous leaders?
And, more worrisome, how many other terrorists are being aided and abetted by young (or older, for that matter) people who can't seem to get their moral priorities straight?
Myer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.