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View Diary: Anti-Chechen Racism Unbridled (152 comments)

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  •  We know that most in the press aren't going.... (23+ / 0-) say that two men from the Caucasus mountains, that is two caucasian men, are responsible for the terrorist attack in Boston, although slate when there:

    Many, many (if not most) white Americans have ancestry that is from the Caucasus mountains, even a good number whose more recent ancestors came from Western Europe.  

    Good ol' America and our xenophobia.

    Failure to Publicize Acts of Hatred Only Allows Them to Fester and Metastasize.

    by BoxerDave on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:47:19 PM PDT

    •  The Chechens aren't any more or less white (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, kyril

      than the Persians, Turks, Israelis, or semitic Arabs. Don't be too taken with the Caucasian terminology, the Chechnyans were overrun during the Middle Ages by the Mongols and Tamerlane (the Turkic conqueror who brought Islam to the region). So if you're thinking pastey white Euro-American=Chechny Caucasian, not really.  

      I never liked you and I always will.

      by Ray Blake on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:51:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  white is a social construct (4+ / 0-)

        What matters is whether they looked "white"

        •  It's a construct that becomes ambiguous (6+ / 0-)

          when it comes to the Middle East. The Turks, Persians and semitic Arabs are very similar in appearance to the Chechnyans. They're all white people. Who decides if they conform to the construct? Tamerlane Tsarnaev (named for the Turkic conqueror) could easily pass as Israeli, Persian or Turkish. Perhaps even southern Italian. Does he look white? Compared to Barack Obama, sure. But to Justin Bieber? White is a very broad category.

          I never liked you and I always will.

          by Ray Blake on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:38:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which is my point (11+ / 0-)

            White is an artificial construct. Why exactly are Persians, Arabs, Israelis "white" or not "white" ? Who polices these boundaries?

            •  Reminds me (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OllieGarkey, kyril

              I was a public reference librarian back when the country was gearing up for war with Iraq.

              An older woman came in to ask me what "color" Iraqis were.

              I knew where she was going with this.

              I was flabbergasted.  As a public librarian, there were lots of times people that I didn't agree with came to ask me for answers I didn't want to give.  But I did so.

              This one, however--well what do you say?

              Just because the government keeps a record of real property transfers, it doesn't mean that the government wants to confiscate your home.

              by NCJan on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 09:18:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Race is completely useless as an (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ray Blake

              "identity" marker, for many reasons, but especially because there is wide variation in physical appearance across any "racial" population and genetic clustering around many different poles-- so some Chechens will look Semitic, some Turkic, some European. Some studies have found close genetic congruence between the Chechens and the Basques-- good luck trying to explain THAT in terms of historical destiny.

              Ethnos, based on shared language and culture-- i.e., based on behavior and conscious affiliation rather than on genes-- is a somewhat fairer and more useful identity marker-- but even there one cannot speak of a pure ethnicity, given that there's plenty of linguistic and cultural variation within an ethnos.

              This is why it is absolutely insane to seek a racially or ethnically pure state-- it would require the purging of all the elements that don't fit the idealized type. And this is why the Chechen nationalist project was from the start bound to provoke violence: there have been 500 years of Russian, Persian, Turkish, Crimean Tatar, Kabardan, Avar, Chechen, Georgian intermixing within the same small area in the Caucasus.

              Greater Serbia, Greater Israel, Greater Chechnya-- these are all absurd and destructive projects.

        •  Partially... but not exactly totally true... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OllieGarkey, Be Skeptical, Ray Blake

          Archeologists can dig up bones and say... "African", "mixed", "European"... "Asian"... "Amerindian" etc. and even sub groupings within those general categories... and then DNA analysis.. they can say "White", "Black" etc. just from just a few markers. While it is true that statistically from a genetic point of view we are all the same "race"... all descended from a very small group who survived a population bottleneck 70,000 years ago... we did apparently settle into the loose approximations of "racial" groups since then... and with recent technology traveled and mixed a lot more and a lot faster than the previous epochs when distance and speed of travel kept populations separate and surface physical differences, cultural and linguistic differences became additional barriers of a sort.

          So the visual but shallow "Skin deep" identity is more noticeable than the small number of genetic differences that collectively tend to be linked to those superficial characteristics... and there is of course zero basis for "ranking" any group as somehow inferior or superior and the border regions between the roughly defined areas where each race is predominant are full of every possible blend of people to the  point where you could say there are more "in between" people than "purely" White", "Black", "Yellow" or "Red"... especially when there are actually few people who are really really white... more peach or pink at the most... and the blackest Black is just very dark brown and as for yellow and red... well those descriptions are even more of a stretch... and the palette of humanity does not have so few hues but has continual and extensive variety.

          So while "Race" has most often been misused as a tool to define the "other" to separate populations, justify mistreatment, conquest and lower or higher status far too often exalting or lowering visually distinctive groups relative to each other and beyond that via language, cultural and religious differences... "Race" or something close to that can still be "detected" fairly clearly via genetic and morphological science... the real issue is that the differences are meaningless for anything that might be tied to civil rights, rights of association, alleged inherent qualities or deficiencies...

          So it is not exactly correct to say there are zero differences linked to Race that have a scientific basis and can be used to identify origin and describe what a person would have looked like just from DNA or study of their bones since these are all facts... and while as a Superficial visual and also genetic and morphological description Race exists to some degree, what does not exist are any real differences between any humans regardless of what they look like superficially... you can see this when the 19th century anthropologists tried to describe each new tribe or ethnic group and the contortions and assumptions they resorted to in order to try and place them neatly into one or the other category or grouping... which only shows that people are not stereotypically and easily pigeon-holed beyond a few superficial tags or labels... and these Victorian era scientists had to make up all sorts of sub racial groups and sub-sub groups and try to describe what made a typical member belong to that group and argued endlessly over their arbitrary labels.

          And beyond that there are more important differences genetically speaking linked to becoming adapted to local diet and climate... and within each group are exceptions who would do better elsewhere eating different things in a different climate or even altitude... or ability to resist local diseases... many individuals of each "race" do not fit well with whatever grouping they are supposed to be a member of and are more at home and do better with a different group... Diversity! And migration! good for societies and good for individuals...

          And as for Chechens... in a crossroads area of Asia... they would long ago have continually been a very "mixed" grouping with more diversity added from many different heritages more often than a lot of other places on earth... invaders, migrants, traders... it was not exactly a place with no mixing (the whole history of Chechnya has been one of continually resisting invasions over and over and over again century after century and yet being open to outsiders becoming Chechnyan.)...

          So it might be hard to dig up some bones and say they were typically "Chechen" though they did have a tight clan identity they also had a history of accepting outsiders and allowing them to merge and become Chechen...  perhaps genetic markers might add some light but probably they would be identified as central Asian and probably narrowed down to the general Caucasus region... but not much narrower than that...  

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 08:32:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  "Race is farcity"-Albert Einstein (8+ / 0-)

        If you go back far enough, you can make connections between all mankind. There is no such isolated pure race in the world today other than in our minds.

        Turks, for example, are a highly mixed ethnicity. Among all, Chechens, Turks, Israelis and whatnot, you will find great diversity, some being "pasty white" while others more on the brown side.

        Finns, for example, have a history of Turkic migrations settling in the area. And Turks have Polish immigrants (long ago) that have mixed with them. There is also a history of Turkish Gaul mixing in Anatolia (historical fact) going back to a few thousand years.

        That is because of the mixed nature of human groups going back to millions of years.

        So, I will be careful when claiming clean cut separations among the "races" of the mankind. There is none.

        "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

        by zenox on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 05:09:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not so. (8+ / 0-)
      Many, many (if not most) white Americans have ancestry that is from the Caucasus mountains
      Actually, very few "caucasians" have any connection to the Caucasus at all. White people are called caucasian because one racist German "anthropologist" thought the Caucasus people were the most perfect exemplars of whiteness. But they've never been encouraged to emigrate to America.

      Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

      by Boundegar on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 03:18:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps confusing actual ancestry (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OllieGarkey, poco, IreGyre, kyril

        with linguistic ancestry, since the Caucasus is believed to be the cradle of the Indo-European language family, to which most European languages (excluding Basque, Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian and Albanian) belong.

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 05:21:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (6+ / 0-)

        Every time my students use "Caucasian" in place of "white" in their papers, I ask them to substitute the word "Aryan," to see if it gets at the vibe that they're going for. Most of them don't repeat the mistake after that.

        Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

        by Dale on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 07:18:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Race typology (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OllieGarkey, kyril

        The relevant terms originated in the 18-1900s by anthropologists who classified all humans into one of 3 races based on cranial shape (refered to then as Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid), sometimes adding a 4th or 5th class (Australoid, Capoid). Caucasians included Europeans, Turks, many in the Stans, Arabs, Persians, and most south Asians. Note that this has nothing to do with color - the majority of Caucasians would be Indians.

        Then, the Nazis came along and connected it with some master Aryan race originating in the Caucasus mountains and represented most purely by Nordic people (true Aryans are Iranian); some of today's white supremacists consider the Slavic nations as the purest. For some reason, the term Caucasian is used synonymously with white in America today, though continental Europe still uses the original definition.

        These definitions did matter since it affected our immigration policy. The Chinese/Asian Exclusion Acts restricted Asian immigration, while citizenship laws allowed naturalization of 'caucasoids', leaving many originating in Asia falling under both categories and several Supreme Court cases trying to figure this out.

      •  Both of us (0+ / 0-)

        are as 'white as white' can be.   One German, Dutch, English, Scottish.  The other Danish, English, Scottish.

        Both of us recently had our DNA traced.  We are both out of Africa, north to Egypt, north to Israel then north to the Caucus Mtn area.  At that point, many of Mr P's ancestors split to the East, ending up in India.  But his half went West across northern Italy, into France & Spain, before going north.   Mine took a more diagonal path across Europe, ending up in the UK and Denmark.  

        Many of us 'white' Europeans, have roots in the Caucus region, including the Armenians, Hungarians, Slavs, French, Germans.

        As pointed out, this region has often been the scene of violent conflict as a flashpoint between major groups of people.  Not to mention a fulcrum in trading routes and the potential spoils and profits which go along with that position.  

        •  If this refers to Sirota... (0+ / 0-)

          ...the Out of Africa event was apparently 200 individuals who swam between Djibouti and Aden tens of thousands of years ago. Every European and Asian historically outside of Africa is related to these mariners. The various types in Australia too. It was probably a tribe that was intrepid enough to abandon the comfort of familiarity.   From there the descendants of that tribe fanned out as far as central Asia and then began to mutate. That was actually the battle neck that created Europeans and Asians.

          The Georgia/Chechen/Armenian region was probably more or less a barrier rather than a spawning ground. Once over the passes in the mountains the steppe probably provided the resources and climate that led to diversity.

          Anyway... When an American talks about white it generally means something more like a "redneck" or Anglo. The people from Chenchnya and Ingushetia are not pasty northern Europeans.

          A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

          by Salo on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 12:27:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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