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    Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Look, White Caucasian Boston Bombing Squirrels! Look, White Caucasian Boston Bombing Squirrels!

    No one cares about the skin color of the Boston Marathon Bombers except to push back against people like David Sirota of who infamously hoped that a “white American” was responsible, and others in the media and left-blogosphere who were hoping that another Timothy McVeigh-looking person was the perp.

    I’m sure the victims don’t care about skin color.

    The push to make the Whiteness or Non-Whiteness of the bombers an issue continues with just as much gusto at and elsewhere after it turned out that the bombers were Chechen Jihadists.

    Joan Walsh of, responding to criticism of Sirota’s Great White Hope, writes:  Are the Tsarnaev brothers white?

    But are we sure the Tsarnaevs aren’t white? They are quite literally Caucasian, as in from the Caucuses: Rebecca Eisenberg helps with this handy map.  And ethnically in this country, we count Americans of Russian descent, as well as Chechens, as white. Dzhokhar was a naturalized American citizen; Tamarlan had applied for citizenship but reportedly didn’t get it because of FBI concerns about his possible ties to Islamic radicals.

    So why are the Tsarnaev brothers not white, at least to right-wingers? Is it only because they’re Muslim? Muslim immigrants? Or is it because they’re “bad,” and whiteness must be surrendered when white people are bad? …

    These days, though, Americans of Russian or Chechen descent are unambiguously categorized as “white” by the U.S. Census Bureau, which says it counts as white  all “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who reported ‘White’ or wrote in entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.” As I wrote Friday, the anguished outburst of Ruslan Tsarni, the brothers’ uncle in Maryland, was the quintessentially American cry of a newcomer wanting to be identified as a good, patriotic American – not necessarily as white, but certainly not as suspicious “other.”

    So conservatives’ insistence the Tsarnaevs are absolutely not white is curious, to say the least.

    This analysis of Whiteness is shallow, to put it mildly.  Chechnya (to be distinguished from The Czech Republic!) is in the Caucuses, and there’s no one as “White” as someone who comes from the region from which the term Caucasian was derived.  Right?

    This is complete nonsense and a distraction for two reasons.  First, when it comes to skin color, we need to Stop using the word “Caucasian” to mean white:

    About four years ago blogger emeritus RPM of evolgen brought into sharp relief an issue which has nagged me:

    Caucasian, literally, refers to people native to the Caucasus, but it has become interchangeable with any number of ‘White’ populations, most of wh1om trace their ancestry to Europe. One gets the feeling that the term ‘White’ fell out of favor and was replaced by ‘Caucasian’ much like ‘Black’ was replaced by ‘African-American’. But the roots of such terminology are a bit disturbing; it was postulated that the natives of the Caucasus exhibited the idealized physical appearance so the Caucasus were believed to be the birthplace of mankind. The logic behind this idea — the assumption that Whites exhibit the best physical appearance — is implicitly racist. Additionally, we now know our species first appeared in Africa, so the biology isn’t any good either. The connotations of the term Caucasian along with the geographical absurdity of using that term to describe all Europeans or Whites are the two main reasons we should abandon the term.

    … The Caucasus mountains bound the Middle East on the north, and the real Caucasians are to some extent a liminal Middle Eastern population. This gets really dumbfounding for the stupid people who ask and answer questions of the form “are Armenians white?” on the internet. After all, the Armenians are indubitably Caucasian, and Caucasian is white, right? Compare the subtly of a regular dictionary definition of Caucasian, to the straightforward acknowledgement of the idiocy of the common usage of the term in urban dictionary.

    Derek Thompson at asks Why do we say that white people came from the area of Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan?

    Wait, do white people really come from the Caucasus?

    It’s highly unlikely. There are scholarly disagreements about how and when some of our dark-skinned ancestors developed lighter skin, but research suggests humans moved across the Asian and European continents about 50,000 years ago.

    Second, “White” is an incredibly broad term as defined for U.S. Census purposes:

    White.  A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.  It includes people who indicate their race as “White” or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Arab, Moroccan, or Caucasian.

    That’s a really broad range, rendering the Census term “White” meaningless when it comes to skin color.  Bedouins and Scandinavians are all “White.”

    The more important question is not whether the bombers were “White” or “Caucasian” but why is obsessed with the Whiteness or non-Whiteness of the bombers.

    It has nothing to do with skin color.

    It’s all about distracting from the abysmal attempt to pin the bombing on the right-wing and Tea Party by reference to the indisputably “White” Timothy McVeigh, and to evade the questions the left does not want to face as to Jihadism, whether “homegrown” or international.

    Look, White Caucasian Boston Bombing Squirrels!

    I will grant one thing.  They do know a lot about “Whiteness” and squirrels.


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    Estragon | April 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Describing any Joan Walsh analysis as shallow is quintessential redundancy.

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