Beinart wants to make you like him again!


To do so, he treats you like fools: Just this once, we’re going to let you ask us about our business!

No, we aren’t big fans of Peter Beinart. We don’t refer to the war-mongering Beinart did in the run-up to Iraq. We’re talking about a minor slight the gentleman extended our way just about ten years back.

Some of the children are quite naughty children. It’s our impression, from that one incident, that Peter may be such a child.

That said, we were struck by the phoniness of his piece at The Daily Beast, “Are the Tsarnaevs white?” Since Beinart is technically bright, and since the piece itself is quite dumb, we assume he’s continuing the long, slow process of recreating himself as a liberal in the wake of his fervent pleas for a long, ugly war in Iraq.

Peter may want you to like him again. That may explain the way he fawns to you in his Daily Beast piece.

How about it? Are the Tsarnaevs white? As we noted yesterday, the answer is easy: Yes! And this isn’t even a matter of judgment. As Joan Walsh noted at Salon, the Census Bureau officially classifies folk of their ethnicity as white.

Beinart’s headline question was easy to answer—but remember, Peter may be trying to make you like him again. For that reason, he started his piece with a simple-minded approach to David Sirota’s recent piece at Salon and its conservative critics:
BEINART (4/24/13): Are the Tsarnaevs white?

The day after last week’s attack in Boston, David Sirota wrote a column for Salon entitled “Let’s Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber Is a White American,” arguing that this would limit the resulting crackdown on civil liberties. At first, conservatives were appalled. Then, when police fingered the Tsarnaev brothers, they were triumphant. “Sorry, David Sirota, Looks Like Boston Bombing Suspects Not White Americans,” snickered a headline in Newsbusters. “Despite the most fervent hopes of some writers over at,” added a blogger at Commentary, “the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing are not ‘white Americans’.”

But the bombers were white Americans. The Tsarnaev brothers had lived in the United States for more than a decade. Dzhokhar was a U.S. citizen. Tamerlan was a legal permanent resident in the process of applying for citizenship. And as countless commentators have noted, the Tsarnaevs hail from the Caucasus, and are therefore, literally, “Caucasian.” You can’t get whiter than that.
We’re sorry, but that’s just stupid. We'll also assumne it's dishonest. Adding insult to injury, Beinart even includes the instantly hackneyed comment about being Caucasian from the Caucasus. In this way, he lets you know that he’s talking down to your ass.

Beinart simply isn’t that dumb. Let’s return to our basic question:

Yes, the Tsarnaevs are white. But are they “white Americans,” as Beinart also says? More to the point, are they “white Americans” in the way intended by Sirota’s column?

Remember, Sirota wasn’t predicting that the bombers would be “white Americans.” Instead, he said that would be his preference, “arguing that this would limit the resulting crackdown on civil liberties.”

In that sense, it isn’t clear in any way that the Tsarnaevs are “white Americans” in the sense intended by Sirota. In his column, Sirota worried about what might happen “if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world.” He seemed to contrast that possibility to his (understandable) preference that the bomber be "a white American."

But the bombers did end up being foreign-born Muslims. The older brother spent six months last year seeming to further his Muslim identity in the developing world.

In all honesty, the Tsarnaevs pretty much weren’t “white Americans” in the sense Sirota had hoped for. Indeed, their background made E. J. Dionne “worry that hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Muslim citizens could become the victims of our anger—much as Italian Americans were stereotyped in the days of Sacco and Vanzetti.”

That is precisely the kind of backlash Sirota had hoped to avoid.

So yes, Peter Beinart, the Tsarnaevs are white—but no, they really aren’t “white Americans” in the way Sirota intended. Treating his liberal readers like fools, Beinart ignored this fact—and he even conned you about the comment made by one of the conservatives he mocks.

To show us how dumb conservatives have been, Beinart quotes the hapless fellow at Newsbusters who seems to think that a person can’t be both white and Muslim. But the person he quotes from Commentary is Peter Wehner—and this is what Wenher actually wrote, until Beinart did a bit of creative “editing;”
WEHNER: Despite the most fervent hopes of some writers over at, the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing are not “white Americans”–a classification Salon used to exclude Islamists...
In our view, Wehner is basically right in that highlighted passage. When Sirota said he hoped the bomber would be “a white American,” he did seem to be excluding Muslims. The Tsarnaevs really aren’t the people he said he was hoping for.

Our guess? Beinart wants us liberals to like him again. Toward that end, he treats us like fools. All is fair in love and war, as the careerists and war-mongers say!


  1. The only terrorist attack in my town since 9/11 was against a mosque and a failed attempt was made to discredit from election a highly qualified academic up for the school board based upon his Muslim heritage. Try to get out more often. It's entirely possible, even probable, that he is morally superior to other Americans. It's a big country. If you can't find some Americans that you feel you are morally superior to, that's your problem. I'm morally superior to the guy that set fire to the mosque in my town. Do you have a problem with that statement? You pretend to know what Sirota is thinking in your first sentence when you throw in what you project to be his thoughts about how Americans might react "in general". This has nothing to do with Americans "in general". Americans "in general" want firearms to be registered. Our elected officials don't. The idea that an assault on civil liberties would come from Americans "in general" rather than politicians whose actions at times are in conflict with the majority of Americans is quaint. And typifies your BS.

  2. "Americans didn't react [with bigoted violence]?"

    You are far and away the stupidest, most annoying person who posts regularly to this blog -- and that's really saying something!

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  4. David, just to help educate you about things you are either wilfully ignorant about, or want to sweep under the rug and pretend they never existed, here in KC, the cops had to station security 24/7 for several weeks after 9/11 at the local Islamic school because of a preponderance of bomb threats.

    And hearing that Muslim women were being harrassed at the grocery store, a group of women from our Catholic parish volunteered to accompany them.

  5. You can find occassional examples, but FBI statistics for 2010 on hate crimes show the relatively infrequency of hate crimes against Muslims:

    Aganst Muslims, There were 160 incidents...of anti-Islamic hate crime in 2010. by comparison, there were 887 anti-Jewish incidents in 2010, comprising 67.1% of those linked to religion. This is 5.5 times the number of anti-Islamic incidents. The per-capita rate was twice as high for Jews as for Muslims.

    the per-capita rate for blacks was similar to that for Muslims; the rate for gays was higher.

    Once again, no Muslim was killed for being Muslim. Fifteen years (1996-2010) of online FBI reports tabulate 149 deaths ("murder and nonnegligent manslaughter") due to hate crimes, but the records show zero anti-Islamic fatalities during this period...

    Because the far greater number of attacks on Jews is not viewed (even by those groups dedicated to monitoring anti-Semitism such as the Anti-Defamation League) as proof the country is boiling with hatred for Jews, how can anyone rationally argue that the far fewer number of assaults on Muslims can justify the conclusion that Islamophobia is rampant?

    Similar results in 2012: 185 incidents against Muslims, 936 against Jews. Furthermore, both figures are tiny in a country of 300 million people.,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45645796,d.cGE&fp=dffc12559dc6b88e&ion=1&biw=1120&bih=548

  6. I get it.

    It's the old "percentage" argument.

    You know, "Employment increased under Obama but the percentage of population growth was greater the the percentage of job growth."

  7. gravymeister, you're a smart commenter. Is your comment serious or sarcastic? Is it meant to denigrate looking at figures as appropriate ratios and on a per capita basis? I hope not. Bob posted on this very point a few days ago. He critized someone for comparing absolute numbers rather than ratios.

    1. It's worth noting too that earlier you were strongly derided for talking about instances of private bigotry toward individuals rather than punitive govt policies against Muslims as a group.

      I not sure that Mr. Sirota would make much sense on that front either. It's hard to fit the concept of white privilege (the privilege of being regarded as an individual, rather than race or ethnicity, I guess this means) as being comparable to phenomenon of radicalization that can happen throughout the world.

      I don't understand the reasoning of Sirota or Walsh when they argue that their point was proved because the brothers being Muslim trumped the privilege of individuality that comes from being white. To my thinking that point doesn't bolster their argument about white privilege, it undermines it.

      Not to mention that this formulation seems to suggest that the religious radicalization that motivated this act of terrorism (and others around the world) is incidental to the crime.

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