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Truth is in favor of you and me; for the truth of our enemies whom we have been serving here in the U.S.A. for over 400 years (whom we did not know to be our enemies by nature) is the truth that the Black Man must have knowledge of to be able to keep from falling into the deceiving traps that are being laid by our enemies to catch us in their way which is opposed to the way of righteous of whom we are members. ~ The Honorable Elijah Muhammad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why Most Mass Murderers Are Privileged White Men

Is there something about the white, male, middle-class experience that makes it easier for troubled young men to turn schools and movie theaters into killing fields? In a word, yes.

Not every mass murder in recent years has been committed by a middle-class white guy. But as Jamie Utt pointed out in the hours after the Colorado theater massacre, in those rare instances where a man of color is responsible for a shooting spree (as in the 2007 Virginia Tech killings or the 2009 Fort Hood rampage), the popular reaction is to search for connections between the race or religion of the murderer and his act. After Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people in Blacksburg, media attention focused on the likelihood that a Korean culture unwilling to acknowledge mental illness helped drive the young man to commit the worst mass murder in U.S. history. After Maj. Nidal Hasan carried out the Fort Hood shootings, his Muslim faith became all the public needed to know about his motive.

It seems likely that Islamic extremism did lead Hasan to kill; it's possible that Cho's cultural background did mean that his psychological problems were particularly likely to be ignored. Ethnicity, faith, and social class are key parts of the modern human identity; they are always part of the explanation for why we think the way we think and act the way we act. The difference, as Chauncey DeVega made clear on Saturday, is that when white men commit mass murder we don't hear how their skin color, their maleness, or their social class were contributing factors to their acts. As Peggy McIntosh famously wrote in her White Privilege Checklist, we see whites as individuals whose moral state reflects their individual will. In other words, white men kill simply because they are "sick" or "evil." When men of color murder, it is because they are both those things and because of factors uniquely attributable to their race.  Read more...


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