I suspect there will be a lot of confusion when people realize that Chechens are *literally* Caucasians.
— Eric Michael Johnson (@ericmjohnson) April 19, 2013
Peter Beinart notes that, despite what you might hear from certain Republicans, “the Tsarnaevs hail from the Caucasus, and are therefore, literally, ‘Caucasian.'”:
At base, the reason it’s so hard for people to accept that the Tsarnaevs are white is because, since America’s founding, being white has meant, both culturally and legally, being “one of us.” And since 9/11, in particular, being Muslim has meant the opposite. As a light-skinned Muslim, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev straddles that divide. But he straddles it in other ways too. He was a pothead, a devotee of hip hop, a lifeguard, a high school wrestler, an aspiring dentist. And yet he became, it appears, a murderer on behalf of a fanatical species of Islam. He’s a type that has reappeared again and again in our history, from every faith and in every shade: an American at war with America, both intimately familiar and frighteningly alien at the same time.
This was American-born Jihad – emboldened, according to the younger brother, by America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The neocons’ drive for yet another war on a Muslim country, Iran, will bring alienated Shiites into the loony mix. Fanatical Islam is the culprit here. But we unwittingly compounded that with neoconservatism, generating even more hatred that can then come at us from within.
This is emphatically not to argue that we should blame America first. But we have not helped ourselves by the way we responded under Bush and Cheney. Which is why it is surreal to hear some neocons seeming to believe this validates their worldview, rather than damning it.