CVS, Walgreen’s and several other chains have announced they will not sell the August issue of Rolling Stone because of the cover story about Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They are mainly upset about the cover, which pictures Tsarnaev as exotically attractive. I have an announcement of my own: I won’t be buying anything from the local CVS during the month that they are refusing to sell Rolling Stone.
The fact is that the cover picture perfectly fits the story by Janet Reitman. It is about how a kid who appeared to his friends and classmates as exotically attractive, shy and mild-mannered could have been driven, along with his older brother, to plant two deadly bombs. The story attempts to reconcile the image, depicted on the cover, with the reality of the bombing.
Anyone familiar with the work of Olivier Roy will find an echo in Reitman’s story. In Globalized Islam and The Illusions of September 11, Roy argued that the terrorists who perpetrated September 11 were not simply products of Islam. They were alienated European immigrants who sought identity in what he called an “imaginary Ummah.” Transpose Roy’s analysis from Hamburg to Cambridge, as he did in an interview after the bombing with The New Republic, and you have the story of the Tsarnaev brothers.