Okay, I can't seem to let this go.
Last Thursday while lunching with a friend, I confessed I was hoping desperately that whoever set off the marathon bombs would turn out to be what people in this country call "white." The bombing itself had done enough damage to the social fabric; we didn't need an explosion of race hatred on top of that damage. We agreed.
So Thursday night when the authorities put out pictures of the men they thought were the bombers, I was pleased to see they appeared "white."
Like Joshua Marshall, I thought of frat boys -- perhaps college students like those my partner teaches. Boston has lots of those.
So it turns out, I wasn't altogether wrong. They had, at least recently, been college students. And they were as Caucasian as any of us can get -- actual immigrants from Central Asia. But they were also from Muslim backgrounds. So the usual suspects now are howling.
I have to wonder: does the historic practice in the United States of branding people who a majority fears mean that we must now believe that Muslims from the Caucasus region are non-white? It wouldn't be the first time we incongruously applied a racial label for an ethnic origin. It would however be flat out absurd -- and instructive about our notions of race.
But then the feds had to blow it by announcing they were going delay giving the surviving Tsarnaev his Miranda warning -- put off telling him he had a Constitutional right to shut up and ask for a lawyer. Withholding the warning is just Administration posturing, demonstrating they are "tough." This guy is a kid who grew up with cop shows and, having completed naturalization, probably studied the Constitution; in theory he knows he has such rights.
I'll outsource legal comment on what is wrong with failing to expeditiously warn the prisoner:
Sure, there are lots of things our security spooks want to know from this guy. And they are going to find out; they've got an airtight case with a death penalty option.
Choosing to use exceptional procedures because this concerns a crime of terror signals weakness, not strength. The Administration has turned down Republican calls to hand the guy over to the inept, law-free military commissions, but apparently it couldn't resist making a gesture to our homegrown authoritarians. Too bad; they'd been doing a good job.