I’ve thought a lot about the Tsarnaev brothers and about how America has reacted to the fact that these were two young Muslim men of Chechen ethnicity. (The Wrong Kind of Caucasian: Despite the Boston bombers having little to do with Chechnya, the media were quick to demonise an entire ethnicity.)
A very close friend of mine who grew up Muslim in Central-Asia in an area
neighboring the Chechnya region, emailed me from abroad and said:
“Yesterday I watched tv, russian news show about this. So they saying americans wouldn’t believe this is America’s own blame. I mean they are use to be terrorist is only foreigners but not USA peoples, but this time is terrorists is USA peoples, this guys grown up in USA and graduated [in USA]…”
He is right, Americans don’t see ourselves as having any fault in this. I remember watching a program about Anders Behring Breivik bomber and mass shooter in Norway, and how Norwegians questioned how it was they as a country had nurtured this person into being—of course noting his mental illness.
We need to ask ourselves as Obama put it: “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?”
We, as Americans, have not asked ourselves that. Last week while at work I was waiting to round and a nurse asked me if she could help me and I explained that was alright, that I was waiting for the already paged physicians. The other nurse referring to me said “Oh she is she just standing there to stop any mad bombers that might come in. I’ve always said that the hospital is not a safe place, we have so many foreigners coming here”. I wanted to scream about xenophobia or that perhaps we should have more fear of educated white men who felt jilted by the system—but I said nothing.
How do we want people to feel accepted in our country when ideologies like that
are acceptable enough to say out loud? Do we really think that any person of color
or any Muslim person is fully accepted as American? What, for example, do we think is going to happen when our country has a whole class of Mexican-Americans who are young adults who have only lived in the USA, don’t speak Spanish, know little of Mexico and yet are considered an “illegal class” here? I feel a sad affection for the Tsarnaev brothers, they too are ni de aquí ni de allá, and I must ask myself did we as a society fail in that someone would want to resort to such an atrocious act? Had we treated them with more love and acceptance, treated them so that they too not only belonged but were wanted, would they have resorted to this heinous barbarity?
Oh and how the authorities handled it afterwards only goes to show how much we fail with our own xenophobia and racism. Falsely Accused in Boston: 3 Examples and What They Should Teach Us (Hat Tip to Chirs Nelson)