Friday, April 26, 2013

"Are the Tsarnaevs White?"

Peter Beinhart has an article in The Daily Beast titled "Are the Tsarnaevs White?" It is an effort to clarify the original Salon article hoping the Boston bomber was a "white American." Beinhart takes some pleasure in the idea that at least one was an American and both were white. Apparently some blogs have laughed at the Solon article because they feel the Tsarnaevs did not fit the bill as "white Americans" when they--or one--did fit the literal definition.

This is an interesting problem because, of course, we all generalize in some way all the time. And Americans seem obsessed with race. But to many it is peculiarly defined. Years ago in the color-barred South, Roberto Clemente was refused entry to a restaurant while his white teammates were let in. The teammates immediately objected, saying Clemente was not black, he was Puerto Rican. The restaurant let him in.

But race is quite well defined and color has little to do with it because the history of racial evaluation is archaeological, i.e. bones mostly. An Iranian will be miffed if he is confused with an Arab; both are Caucasians. The largest Islam population in the world is in Indonesia, not Africa; what does that say about Islam's racial make-up? The Palestinians are genetically identical to their enemies, the Israelis. Southern Italy was conquered by the Arabs over and over again; is Sofia Loren less Caucasian than Noomi Rapace?  How about Eva Green? The entire Middle East and a lot of eastern Europe has had genetic mixture from Asian armies. But African genetic intervention has not occurred much.

The writer of the article in Salon hoping for a white American bomber does not understand any of this and his superficial mis-perceptions are probably more racist than most. He was hoping for some Timothy McVeigh supremacist wacko. But most of the talk here is not racial, it is cultural. The fear here is of foreigners and unassimilated immigrants. There may be some real insurmountable cultural differences at work here, as Solzhenitsyn predicted, but what we got in Boston were two vicious disaffected white guys flying the flag of Islam.

Years ago you could get a letter of marque and raid ships on the high sea under your country's flag. More honest men flew a pirate flag.

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