Monday, April 1, 2013

White Noise

At the Washington Post a few days ago, authors Charlotte and Harriet Childress claim that white men are not owning up to the role they play in mass shootings. They believe white men should come forward and take responsibility for, you know, facilitating these events; they also believe white men should stop defending gun rights, because they don't have any credibility to do so. 

Seriously. It's a weird and uncomfortable article. Here's the explosive finale:

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?

If Americans ask the right questions on gun issues, we will get the right answers. These answers will encourage white men to examine their role in their own culture and to help other white men and boys become healthier and less violent.

Hold on a second---if "life were equitable," wouldn't those mass shootings never have happened in the first place? Oh well.

Honestly, it's not wrong to ask these types of questions. For instance, I wouldn't find anything objectionable if one asked, "Why are poor black men so much more likely to murder each other?" Racial questions can be uncomfortable, but sometimes it's important to address them.

The problem is, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the behaviors that the Childress women signal out, aside from the "facets of white male culture" that apparently "create" mass shootings, whatever that means. But look at the other questions: what, exactly, is so heinous about "sell[ing] and manufactur[ing] guns for profit" or "attend[ing] gun shows?" Do the authors show any evidence that "violent video games and other media" lead to more violence? (No.) What do the actions of "white male congressmen" have to do with white male mass shooters? Are they suggesting that crazy people actually follow politics or something?

Why, in other words, are they asking these questions? One gets the feeling that they just wanted to say "white male" over and over again. In any case, they don't offer any serious evidence that white male culture---whatever that is---is somehow contributing to mass shootings. They just want to wag their fingers at white men. That hurts my feelings.

Elsewhere, the authors write:

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.

 "Programmed?" "Hierarchies?" Where did these ladies spend their childhoods, North Korea?

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