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

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Runs for office sometimes, so far to offer a challenge to someone nasty who would otherwise have run unopposed. Someday he might pick a fight intending to win it rather than just to dent someone. You'll know it when you see it. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. A family member works part-time as a campaign treasurer. He doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he hated. He does advise some local campaigns informally and generally without compensation. If that changes, he will declare the interest. He also runs a less frequently published blog called "The Brean," for his chosen hometown, where he is now fighting with its wealthiest and most avaricious citizen-donors. This just seems to be his way.