Apologizing for One’s Family, One’s Ethnicity, One’s People


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Among the extraordinary things that we saw this past week, this interview with Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers, is among the most so. I can barely imagine being in his situation. The part at the end is particularly moving.

It’s not surprising for someone, even in a tribal culture, to be held responsible for the actions of someone in their family or clan.  In the stew pot of America, though, one may be held to account not only for one’s estranged nephews, but for one’s entire ethnicity (even religion) as well.  The media demanded that Ruslan Tsarni shoulder that responsibility yesterday.  His reaction was, in its way, as extraordinary as Carlos Arredondo’s — being thrust into the position of doing something that he could not imagine having to do that day.

Boston bombing - Uncle Ruslan Tsarni speaks

Anguished and eloquent, the uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers tries to deflect blame from the Chechnyan people while accepting familial shame.

What has this to do with Orange County?  Well, we’re one of the most gloriously polyethnic spots on the planet.  Often, those of us from minority ethnicities — Mexican, Vietnamese, Arab, Jewish, Filipino, Korean, Persian, Indian, and more — are asked in some way to answer for the actions of others of that ethnicity.  I suppose that in a sense that’s just natural — we’re presumed to have some special insight, I suppose — but to demand it, as seen here, is also bizarre.  I think that many of us in OC will have similar “there but for the grace of god” reactions to this video.

Sometimes, the demand that we “represent our people” that can even devolve into such teeth-grinding questions as “what do you feel about America?”  How does one answer a question like that?  Well, watch and see.


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.