Even if you’re not familiar with white man bashing, the latest liberal diversion, you’re probably acquainted with the assault on the right to bear arms, which has been ongoing for decades. Both come into play in a Washington Post op-ed published on Friday under the provocative title “White men have much to discuss about mass shootings.”
The authors, Charlotte Childress and Harriet Childress, open their appeal to reason with a little thought experiment:
Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be ‘held accountable.’ Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.
But when the criminals and leaders are white men, race and gender become the elephant in the room.
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Nearly all of the 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.
There is so much wrong with this intro that it would be easier to identity what the authors got right. Nevertheless, let’s play along, beginning with the phrase “committing mass shootings month after month, year after year.” According to data gathered by the liberal website Mother Jones, there were 62 mass shootings in the United States between the years 1982 and 2012, where “mass shooting” is a defined as a crime in which a minimum of four people were killed by a lone gunman. That works out to roughly two mass shootings per year, which suggests that the “month after month” measure is hyperbole — not the best journalistic device to include in the lede of an essay intended to persuade.
But we’re just getting started. Next is the implication that “race and gender” (white and male respectively) have not “flooded the media” since the Newtown shootings. (The notion that black “male leaders would hold a news conference to offer solutions” if the shooters were black or that there would be demands that “African Americans be ‘held accountable’” is pure fantasy, but it’s beyond the pale of the present topic.) Within days of the Newtown shootings, two prominent leftist journalists — the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and Salon’s David Sirota — were guests on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” to discuss the utility of profiling white males as a stopgap to future massacres. The appearance across the web and in newspapers of op-eds and analyses identifying the cause of mass shootings with white males has been unrelenting.
Third is the myth that the opinions of the leaders of the NRA on how to reduce gun violence were widely discussed after Newton. “Widely disparaged” would be closer to the truth. The organization’s executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was branded as crazy, and the liberal media argued vigorously that the group’s enrollment figures were exaggerated even as they sought to blame its ubiquity as a factor in incidents like Newtown.
But the real elephant in the room in any event is the narrow focus on mass shootings to the exclusion of other mass murders and shooting deaths of single victims, many of which are carried out by non-whites. These events, which include the recent killing of a 13-month-old toddler shot in the face as he sat in his stroller, are far less likely to generate the media storm attending a Newtown. Maybe they should.
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