Sayfullo Saipov and the literature of rejection

Instrument of terror – Sayfullo Saipov’s Home Depot truck.

Instrument of terror – Sayfullo Saipov’s Home Depot truck.

Say who?

Sayfullo Saipov. He now joins the long list of terrorists, mass murderers, assassins and dictators who are part of what I call “the literature of rejection.”

The terrorist who mowed down 20 on a Manhattan bike path, killing eight and injuring 12 on Halloween, is yet another man – it’s virtually always a man – with a disproportionate rage at rejection. My country has suffered (Hitler). My region has suffered (John Wilkes Booth). My community has suffered (Timothy McVeigh). I’m a failed soldier (Lee Harvey Oswald). I’m the son of one of daddy’s lesser wives (Osama bin Laden). The cat ate my homework. Blah, blah, blah, boo, hoo, hoo.

Saipov won the green card lottery. He came to America. He wanted to work in a hotel as he did in his native Uzbekistan. He needed to improve his English greatly to do that. He liked to sleep in.

So he drove a truck and was an Über driver. His American experience didn’t turn out as he imagined it would. Life didn’t turn out as he imagined. Such men are ripe for the manipulators whose promise of paradise sounds all too earthly, who offer a stage too big for puny actors to fill.

The president – such a comfort, isn’t he? – said we mustn’t politicize the Las Vegas shooter, then proceeded to politicize New York’s latest terrorist. But he did us no favors. The immigrant terrorist killed immigrant innocents in a city of immigrants, the city of reinvention.

Still, not all of us are meant to do our reinvention in a new place. What if Saipov had declined the green card? Not every opportunity need be taken.

“Know thyself,” the ancient Greeks said.

Know thyself.