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Color schemes – imported from the Caucasus?

The 'all of the above' identities of the Boston bombing suspects illustrate the conflation of 'color' and religion.

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Boston has been experiencing a moment of civic unity in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings. But outside the Hub of the Universe, the commentariat blathers on.

As The Economist's Lexington column put it, "On cable television, leftish pundits murmured about government-hating domestic extremists (ie, please let this bomb make my opponents look bad), while conservatives muttered about Muslim extremism and weak government policies (ditto)."

Even once the two suspects had names and faces, there was a longing to nail down their "identities": Were they "white Americans" or "Muslim immigrants"? Yes. Both.

Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast, in a piece on the language of whiteness, expands on how difficult it is for many to grasp these apparently contradictory simultaneities. "[I]n public conversation in America today, 'Islam' is a racial term," he argues. "Being Muslim doesn't just mean not being Chris­tian or Jewish. It means not being white."

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