“White men have much to discuss about mass shootings” is the online headline from Sunday’s Charlotte Childress’s and Harriet Childress’s op-ed. They’re right. But so do we all. The Post’s comment counter stopped being precise, but assures us it’s over 5,000 comments and rising. Much to discuss. Specifically: Their argument that the way we talk about and perceive race and gender in this country creates a sort of default identity of white and male, meaning when we talk about race and gender we mean everyone but whites and everyone but men. In a bookstore, “Gender Studies” books are going to be about women, and “Anthropology” about men, etc.
Which, Childress and Childress argue, means we’re not talking about white men as a discrete group, even if we should be. If mass shooters tend to be white and male, we just think of them as mass shooters.
Anyone else notice how cautious PostScript is being, and reluctant to deploy any of her usual rhetorical tricks or hilarious references to the hostile nature of the comments bunker and her need to protect herself from its acidity? Does she seem reluctant to curate responses as usual because usually she can ignore the unnervingly racist and sexist stuff, but on this particular day, the racist and sexist stuff comprises a disturbing part of the infrastructure of the debate? Is she right now too aware that she is of the default-ergo-non-existent race but does in fact have a gender? Does the inflammatory nature of the op-ed make her unsure what kinds of inflammatory responses are appropriate to publish?
No? Good. PostScript is not afraid of this or any discussion, even one that inevitably makes everyone hostile and defensive and affronted and uncomfortable! She LURVES it! Bring on the discomfort, without which we do not grow! Pay no attention to the several decoy PostScripts sitting around in plain view, and the fact that the real PostScript is typing this from the chairwell beneath her desk! Let’s go at this discussion. Race, gender and their opposites! Stuff you just don’t hear people say in 2013! Whoooo!
One key criticism of the op-ed’s argument is that the distinctions of whiteness and mass shooting are imprecise enough that we could all actually be talking about different things.
The difference is in characterization, not race. For instance, there were 15 people shot the other week at New York Ave and North Capitol St in DC. This wasn’t called a mass shooting, but gang violence. Tracing similar incidents around the country could lead one to believe blacks are mass murders. Try it LA or border areas, all Hispanics become drug dealers. Or Muslims as terrorists. Or the much publicized white killings (tragic they’re more publicized given every life should be valued, but unfortunately the media does treat them differently) and it’s because they’re white. It’s all a useless characterization.
How are mass shootings defined? How many killed? And does it need to be a random shooting, or do workplace shootings qualify?
I would point out that the majority of shootings in America – which adds up to a mass of shootings and killings – is done by blacks against other blacks. But violence and crime is a problem of society and acculturation (the taking on a culture of another rather than the American culture), not of race, and race should not be brought into the picture except in analyzing the parts of a bigger puzzle than the writers fathom.
The labeling of white males as a homogeneous class is ridiculous, in this instance racist, and unhelpful in a dialogue about gun violence. White people are still over 60% of the population in the US and are spread over a far broader strata of class, education and background than any other demographic.
Kris Weaver, arguing that ethnic Italians, Jews and, um, atheists aren’t white after all:
Not to point out the obvious: White men (men of Northern European ethnic backgrounds), are responsible for hardly any of the mass shootings: Virginia tech: Korean American, Beltway: Islamic African American, Columbine: Atheist Jewish Americans, Aurora: Jewish American convert to Islam, Lanza: Italian American
And others turn the argument around to make equivalently inflammatory statements about other groups:
Black men have much to discuss about their criminal activity.
Most mass shootings in America have been carried out by leftists.
This article reminds us that each socio-economic ethnic group has great people and not so great people. – Men kill more adults than other people. – Women kill their own babies. – Blacks kill one another in dark lonely places for money. – White boys kill lots of people in crowded places for no monetary gain. – Muslims blow up people in Mosques or on pilgrimages. – Hispanics kill people to control the drug trade. We’re all sinners who on Good Friday need redemption.
Which results in accusations of white men being overly sensitive:
Judging by the comments here and in the blogosphere, really thin white skin has to be part of the equation. It’s funny how a group that is known for judging others by what group they place them in can’t stand being viewed as a group.
Racially profiling white men like blacks and other minorities have been profiled and seeing how uncomfortable it make them feel is the brilliant part.
jwrobleski wants more and better data before we poke at this issue any further:
We have been hampered by our own laws which prevent the federal authorities from analyzing gun violence.
And, because it must be acknowledged, the reasons one might avoid this conversation in anonymous fora. You get vileness in much greater proportion than almost any other topic.
Whites are naturally ambitious and created modern civilization. The Irish had half their population genocided by the English in the 17th century, the rest sent off as slaves to England, the Americas or Carribeans. They don’t kill each other over Air Jordans or kill gas station clerks for $20 and a pack of Newports.
Plus, [the authors]’re really unattractive and I expect they’re not getting much action from those “white males”…LOL
So there was a lot of disgusting mixed in there, along with the reasoned and reasonable. It might make you wonder about the morality, decency and even accuracy of the Commentariate. PostScript hereby urges you to withhold any such judgment; only fools and bigots make sweeping, judgmental generalizations about large groups of people based on the distasteful actions of a very few.