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Political Read: Our Boston Is Now The World

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WASHINGTON -- Did you know where Chechnya was? You probably do now. Do you know who Tamerlane was? Maybe you should look him up; the now-dead "Man in the Black Hat" was named after the 14th century Mongol conqueror.

In ways we never could have imagined, terrorists with roots in a distant land and an ancient history have overrun the streets of Boston and Cambridge that are sacred to our own history.

Well, there is no "own" anymore. As industrial Britain was rising around him, Wordsworth complained in the 19th century that the "world is too much with us." He had no idea.

We don't know what motivated 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar to allegedly kill and maim in Boston. Perhaps they were moved merely by apolitical madness.

But we know where they happen to come from: a violent land in the Caucasus fired to a fury for freedom by ethnic and religious pride.

As if we needed any further proof, this week in Boston proves that there is no "over there." Ours is not a planet in which distance matters, nor does the passage of time. It may be that centuries-old grievances are erupting worldwide like volcanic lava.

With technology, we can see every street and every forest from above on our iPads. And yet what do we really know of the lives whose external artifacts we see from the air?

Ironically, the U.S. Congress is debating what to do about immigration, but that argument in some ways was rendered antique, naïve and almost meaningless by Boston.

The Tsarnaev brothers were legal immigrants. They were granted political asylum from a Chechen war that they have now brought to Boston, whether they wanted to or not.

Back in the Caucasus, Chechens want their own country.

But so do we.

And now that is impossible for us both.