I was reading a study by an academic named Vamik Volkan. Wolkan wrote about how the ethnic tent comprises a political leader whose primary task is to hold the group together by keeping the tent secure. However when there is shared anxiety, possible from an attack upon the leader, the members become preoccupied with repairing and mending the tears of the larger tent canvas in order to protect the group's identity.
The trauma which springs from the attack essentially becomes the shared trauma of the collective whole. Individual members need not have personally suffered, but the emotional pain can transcend generations.
This brings to mind the Liu "sweat shop" debate. Essentially this was the mobilizing and defining moment of his campaign and career. He harnessed the collective anxiety of his ethnic tent behind him by spinning the attack on his history as a de facto attack on all the members of the tent. Akin to Native Americans who still speak with great emotion about the Trail of Tears, Liu turned the tables on his critics and made himself the "sweat shop" survivor. And by attacking him the press made him a martyr.