Holding White Men Accountable for Mass ShootingsPosted: March 30, 2013
The topic of straight white male privilege and its role in shaping US culture and policy are extremely important topics for disadvantaged others. We continually live in a system where we have to basically beg and claw for our rights and fight to maintain what we’ve achieved. Then, there is the inevitable white male blowback that usually comes attached to some form of violence when the privileges of white males are threatened. You can address this from a variety of viewpoints of out groups. There is an extremely interesting op-ed up in WAPO by Charlotte Childress and Harriet Childress addressing the overwhelming evidence that spree, mass shooters that target strangers in this country are a white male phenomenon. It is also evident that the anti-gun safety and control agenda is dominated by white men. What to do about this is difficult and even discussing the situation in policy terms is hard.
Nearly all of these kinds of mass shootings in this country in recent years — not just Newtown, Aurora, Fort Hood, Tucson and Columbine — have been committed by white men and boys. Yet when the National Rifle Association (NRA), led by white men, held a news conference after the Newtown massacre to advise Americans on how to reduce gun violence, its leaders’ opinions were widely discussed.
Unlike other groups, white men are not used to being singled out. So we expect that many of them will protest it is unfair if we talk about them. But our nation must correctly define their contribution to our problem of gun violence if it is to be solved.
When white men try to divert attention from gun control by talking about mental health issues, many people buy into the idea that the United States has a national mental health problem, or flawed systems with which to address those problems, and they think that is what produces mass shootings.
Each of us is programmed from childhood to believe that the top group of our hierarchies — and in the U.S. culture, that’s white men — represents everyone, so it can feel awkward, even ridiculous, when we try to call attention to those people as a distinct group and hold them accountable.
This op-ed will undoubtedly receive a lot of critical attention from the powers-that-be and from the anti-intellectual right. Already, right wing sites--like Gate Way Pundit–are switching the conversation to inner city violence which is predominately black on black. This, of course, misses the point of the article which is about specific mass shootings and associated weapons caches that are typical of the prepper movement and right wing militia movements that are predominately white male. Also, pointing to the Virgina Tech shooter does not also rule out that these shooters are still predominately white male. The article was not about inner city gun violence. It was about mass shooting of strangers in public places which is a lot like terrorists setting off bombs other places in the world. It’s not personally aimed at any one. This is one distinct form of spree shooting.
This societal and cultural programming makes it easy for conservative, white-male-led groups to convince the nation that an organization led by white men, such as the NRA or the tea party movement, can represent the interests of the entire nation when, in fact, they predominately represent only their own experiences and perspectives.
If life were equitable, white male gun-rights advocates would face some serious questions to assess their degree of credibility and objectivity. We would expect them to explain:
What facets of white male culture create so many mass shootings?
Why are so many white men and boys producing and entertaining themselves with violent video games and other media?
Why do white men buy, sell and manufacture guns for profit; attend gun shows; and demonstrate for unrestricted gun access disproportionately more than people of other ethnicities or races?
Why are white male congressmen leading the fight against gun control?
I think these questions are worth discussing as is the overall topic. I am sure there will be the usual backlash about poor, downtrodden, discriminated white men. Also, the NRA will continue to deny that it basically behaves like a wing of the KKK or the America NAZI movement. Afterall, we do know who still has all the power these days.