WASHINGTON -- Strange that I had taken a week off, thinking, "This will be the most beautiful week in May, and I shall be free to bird-watch and perhaps even dangle my wintered toes in the Potomac." For this is the time in our nation's capital when every miserable barren bush, every poor droopy tree and every hopeful sprout suddenly blooms forth in red, yellow and orange.
Moreover, Washingtonians themselves are joined by oodles of tourists, filling up the sidewalk cafes, asking interminable directions to places we natives don't know, and smiling in the sunshine.
The only trouble for me this year was that I had work to do inside, and while I did it, I turned on the television. How could I have done such a thing? It switched from the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, to the three young women and girl held captive for 10 -- count them, 10! -- years in that Cleveland torture house. Just when I couldn't take any more of that, I switched channels and soon was informed about a man in a Midwestern city killing a policeman with a tommy gun; about a university out west being shut down because of a man with guns; about a 4-year-old killing his 2-year-old sister with a gun given to him as a gift for Christmas; and about Jodi Arias. (How long HAS the trial been -- two years?)
I suppose I could have focused on the now 80,000 people killed in Syria, the Hezbollah moving from Lebanon to Syria to help the murderous al Assad family, the Iraqi Sunnis blowing up still more Shiites with such joy, and the Egyptian Muslim government taking over Egypt step by step.
It was somewhat of a conundrum -- which to choose to write about? Each hemisphere earned sufficient points for murderousness and depravity to count for first place. And each had enough sheer weirdness in torture and brutishness to provide some unique horror to the reader.
Yet, I decided on the first, on what was closest to home.
But, saying that, what else should we say? Well, starting with the modern Boston massacre, it seems to me that the primary responsibility or guilt here belongs to the immigration service. The minute it was announced on television that the Tsarnaev family had come from Chechnya, I thought brilliantly, "Uh-oh!" Chechnya, after all, is the small republic in the Caucasus, in the south of Russia, which had been virtually leveled by Moscow in the years of Stalin's deportations and civil wars.
Frankly, to bring virtually any Chechen into America, where there are no cultural ties whatsoever, is dangerous business enough. But young Chechens in particular, who were born and bred and riven through with the hatred and brutality of their history, is crazy. The Tsarnaev boys, who could not garner enough power in Chechnya to smite the Russians, rather easily turned their hatred toward America. After all, both countries are huge powers whom they saw together as Christians against Islam.
The original refugee and asylum laws in this country were meant to aid individuals who realistically feared persecution and/or death in their native country. The Tsarnaev family never fit into this category.
When we move forward in time to the "house of horrors" in Cleveland, the situation is quite different. Here, a strange and monstrous man, Ariel Castro, apparently cased his neighborhood, kidnapped three beautiful young women and submitted them to every possible torture for 10 years. They were finally discovered only when one tried to escape with the child born of him.
No time for listening to the spring birds or studying the flowers here. No, here we seem to find the place for Americans to develop that sixth sense, that intuition, that radar certain people seem to have, as others have magic in their fingers to play an instrument or nurture a plant. One looks at the pictures of Ariel Castro and wonders, "How could people not have known?" The eyes are so strange, the visage so cold and cruel. And yet, they didn't. Really, people not blessed with natural intuition can begin to know or understand such dangerous personalities only if they have read enough history, and especially literature. And we don't.
The rest of the cases, and there are many, that have made this once-promising spring a series of killings and murders instead, almost all deal with the criminal availability of guns. We think back on Newtown, Conn., already a memory of the past, and wonder how Adam Lanza's mother could possibly have left all those guns in the open and loaded in that wracked boy's presence?
We see the 4-year-old who killed his baby sister with his own Christmas gun; the parent had stepped out for a moment. (Hope you had a good time.) Yet we cannot pass any more gun laws, apparently because we are "protecting" ourselves with our firearms. Just like a militia in 1777.
But I am not without ideas. The next time I turn on the telly, I'll turn to CNN. Maybe I'll be lucky and just get the war in Syria.
(Georgie Anne Geyer has been a foreign correspondent and commentator on international affairs for more than 40 years. She can be reached at gigi_geyer(at)juno.com.)
- Politics & Government