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

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. 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. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)