Monday, December 17, 2012

David Sirota on the Unaskable Question (about White Males and Mass Shootings)

David Sirota dares to ask the profiling question about America's appalling history of mass shootings, and is immediately pilloried for asking that the question of "why the composite of these killers is so similar across so many different massacres" "be at least a part of the conversation":

Let’s review: any honest observer should be able to admit that if the gunmen in these mass shootings mostly had, say, Muslim names or were mostly, say, African American men, the country right now wouldn’t be confused about the causes of the violence, and wouldn’t be asking broad questions. There would probably be few queries or calls for reflection, and mostly definitive declarations blaming the bloodshed squarely on Islamic fundamentalism or black nationalism, respectively. Additionally, we would almost certainly hear demands that the government intensify the extant profiling systems already aimed at those groups. 
Yet, because the the perpetrators in question in these shootings are white men and not ethnic or religious minorities, nobody is talking about demographic profiling them as a group. The discussion, instead, revolves around everything from gun control, to mental health services, to violence in entertainment – everything, that is, except trying to understanding why the composite of these killers is so similar across so many different massacres. This, even though there are plenty of reasons for that topic to be at least a part of the conversation.

But as a nation, we don't intend to have that conversation. Because the huge majority of white males vote Republican and identify as conservatives. Because power remains largely in the hands of white males throughout almost all social, governmental, economic, and religious institutions in the land. 

Because too much revolves around shielding white (heterosexual) male power from any and all questions. Because a not insignificant proportion of women are actively involved in the shielding process when they themselves obtain perks from the system that places power unequally in the hands of white men. Because it's simply easier--and we Americans love the easy way--to profile people of color and Muslims and immigrants, and to blame them when things go wrong.

But not white males. Never white males. Ask Chauncey Devega about this: his recent essay at Alternet lit up like a crazed Christmas tree with dismissive, supercilious comments, when he dared to ask why we never seem to get around to noticing that a very large percentage of mass shootings in our society occur at the hands of white men.

The graphic is from John Sturges's classic 1960 film "The Magnificent Seven."

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