In 2007, I wrote a song called "My Chechen Wolves." In writing the lyrics, I pictured the voice rising from the bloody and lifeless body of Dzhokhar Dudayev, the first president of Chechnya, who was assassinated by the Russian government. Since the Boston Marathon bombings, I have been asked repeatedly whether or not I think the Tsarnaev brothers, the alleged perpetrators of this horrible act, knew my song.
"My Chechen Wolves" entered a conversation -- or argument really -- that continues to play out between ethnic factions online. The discussion ranges from violent hate speech to people laying claim to their version of history -- most of it accompanied by expletives.
In December 2010, I was invited to performed "My Chechen Wolves" on the steps of Times Square for a peaceful rally by people of the Caucuses.
Absent was any vitriol like that which is connected to my song on YouTube. These were my Chechen wolves in the flesh, not in cyberspace. They were deliberately and vigorously seeking peace.
Oliver Bullough wrote in his recent op-ed in the New York Times, "The word most linked to 'Chechen' is 'terrorist,' because of the attacks against the audience at Moscow's Dubrovka Theater in 2002, against children in Beslan, North Ossetia, in 2004, and now the marathon in Boston. But terrorists were only ever a tiny fraction of the population. A more accurate word to link to 'Chechen' would be 'refugee.' Perhaps 20 percent, perhaps more, of all Chechens have left Chechnya in the last 20 years."
Here is a message from the protest that I want to again recall at this time.
"We also address an urgent appeal to young people from the Caucasus living in Moscow. Under no circumstances allow yourselves to be influenced by provocateurs of various kinds who call for revenge and confrontation. Unite and defend your rights and interests by legal and civilized means."
I am certain there wasn't a soul at that rally in Times Square who would feel anything other than horror and sadness at the events that occurred in Boston, and yet, scrolling down on the YouTube page I see the first comment is "FUCKOFF MUSLIM AND JEWISH."
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