Saturday, December 15, 2012

White Men Like Adam Lanza Commit 70 Percent of the Mass Shootings in the United States. Why is the Media Afraid to Talk About This Obvious Fact?

America has a major angry-man problem. Reading the Mother Jones article, whose lead author is former Salon reporter Mark Follman, I was actually surprised to learn that there was one female mass shooter in recent American history, a disgruntled postal worker in Goleta, Calif., who shot a neighbor and several co-workers. But the other 61 people who have so tragically acted out their twisted private fantasies on people around them have all been male. While some element of sexual or misogynistic drama was frequently involved – a mother or ex-wife or girlfriend; a rejection or divorce or suggestions of closeted homosexuality – the one thing you can point to in almost every case is perceived humiliation...
Nonetheless I suspect that economic realities play a role. It’s plausible that these grotesque events are by-products of the downward pressure on wages, especially in the working class and lower fringes of the middle class, and reflect what has sometimes been called the “crisis of masculinity,” meaning the perceived emasculation and loss of privilege felt by some men in an age of increasing sexual equality.
 A gentle corrective: America has a major angry white man problem.  

As I wrote about here, and also over at Alternet where my essay on the Sandy Hook shooting was the lede story today, I largely agree with Andew O'Herir about the relationship between masculinity and the mass rampage shootings that have occurred in this country. Something is horribly amiss in American society where a toxic gun culture, social and economic anxiety among men, a culture of privilege and entitlement, and a lack of access to public health services have combined to create conditions ripe for the types of horrific violence committed by Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut. 

While Andrew is spot on in his general concerns about masculinity and gun violence, he has committed a common error: while he alludes to the racial demographics of mass shooters in passing, there is no sustained focus on the obvious fact that the vast majority of these spree murderers are white men.
I’m not suggesting this is good news, but the stereotype that these kinds of shooters are invariably white men is less true than it used to be. In the last decade or so, almost every possible demographic has been represented: There have been two infamous campus shootings by Asian graduate students, one by a Native American teenager living on a Minnesota reservation, and a couple by African-Americans and Latinos. Overall, 43 of the 61 shooters in mass killings since 1982 have been white, which is only a little higher than the proportion of whites in the general population.
Andrew's oversight is a common one in a society (and among the pundit classes) where whiteness is taken to be a condition of both normality and invisibility. Whiteness has social power precisely because it goes unnamed. To be White in American society, with its long history of white racism and other inequalities that are structured around the colorline, is to be considered "normal."

Ultimately, whiteness is the ability to be an unmarked individual whose actions do not reflect on your racial group. Consequently, white men who kill are just individuals who kill; black and brown folks who kill and commit other crimes are exhibiting behaviors which reflect on their "race" and "culture." 

To point. American politics and culture are obsessed with narratives that link race and crime. 

For example, the "law and order narratives" of the 1960s onward are a direct cue and signal to fears of black criminality. Conservatives are especially obsessed with the idea of black (male) crime. George Bush had his infamous Willie Horton moment which he used to win a presidential election. Because conservatism and racism form a bundle of attitudes which are tightly bound together in post civil rights America, when seemingly unrelated conversations about public policy matters such as "affirmative action" are discussed, it is a short detour to Right-wing talking points about black folks, our "bad culture," and "criminal" ways. 

For example, in cases such as the Trayvon Martin shooting or the more recent Jordan Davis case, the default assumption is that whites who murder unarmed African-Americans are innocent because black males (and women)--whatever their age--are especially capable of lethal violence even when innocently walking down the street or listening to music in a car. Black people are existentially violent; thus, any violent force by white people against them has to be assumed to both just and reasonable until matters are proven otherwise. 

Given the cultural scripts that inexorably relate crime to race, one would think that white people, and white men in particular, would be the focus of similar narratives. White men are the majority of domestic terrorists in the United States. White men commit the most serial murders and child rapes. White men comprise the vast majority of those accused of treason. White men destroyed the country's economy and financial sector. 

And white men have committed 70 percent of the mass shooting murders in the United States as sourced from this piece in Mother Jones. By comparison, white men are approximately 30 percent of the population. They comprise more than twice their percentage among mass shooters. Yet, there is no "national conversation" on the matter. The silence is deafening.

However, because Whiteness is the very fact of not being "raced," or made into the "Other," such frameworks or interventions that ask basic question about whiteness, masculinity, crime, and violence, are rarely offered. 

And when they are--see the range of reactions to our discussions of white masculinity and violence here on We Are Respectable Negroes, as well at Alternet--there are howls and screams of denial, as well as accusations of anti-white "racism." Apparently, it is somehow impolitic or callous to talk about the race of white murders who kill innocent children by the dozens. But, it a given that the racial identities of black and brown folks are routinely and reflexively foregrounded in discussions of crime in America, more generally. 

Help me understand. Why is the media afraid to talk about the relationship between white men, guns, and mass violence? What is the white public afraid of? Would it not be in the interest of the Common Good, and the safety of all people, especially white folks who are the disproportionate victims of mass shootings, to figure out why one cohort of the public is repeatedly involved in this type of spectacular violence?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

The guns were registered to the shooter's mother.

This just in:

I just heard on the news that the shooter's mother was stockpiling all those guns because she feared a complete economic collapse under ... wait for it... the Obama administration.

- Buddy H.

chaunceydevega said...

@Buddy And there you go.

Someone could write this stuff down as a dark comedy and some type of Turner Diaries mess and it turns out to come true.

Anonymous said...

"I just heard on the news that the shooter's mother was stockpiling all those guns because she feared a complete economic collapse under ... wait for it... the Obama administration."

So.... if I read this right, wait for it. It's Obamas fault!

Sorry. I just could not resit that. You read it here first.

Ben G.

Black Sage said...

Help me understand. Why is the media afraid to talk about the relationship between white men, guns, and mass violence? What is the white public afraid of? - ChaunceyD

When we look in the mirror, we see an exact two dimensional reflection of ourselves. For Whites as a group to look into the mirror and see all of their faults fully exposed to the world, would be for them to see a reflection filled with horrors. Damn near the entire White culture is built upon a fantasy world sustained by plinths made of cards. Therefore, don’t hold your breath and expect for the media to speak the truth about anything, much less guns and the high propensity for White men to commit massacres. White self indictment will never happen.

Furthermore, White culture is also degenerative; in a continual state of decline in social and political power, a devaluing of sort. In my opinion, this is another reason why some Whites men behave in some of the most horrifically violent manner. They are able to see and witness first hand that their collective grip of authority and influence upon other countries is in a downward spiral across the globe, just as it is here within the Eagle empire at home as well.

Anonymous said...

Could it be the fact that the Mainstream Media is owned by white men of privilege? And if the FCC relaxes media ownership rules further, it'll get worse.

Anonymous said...

The answer to all your questions is white supremacy. Now do something about or sit back and watch this over and over again and ask the same questions next year and further on into the future.

Butch Pansy said...

Devil's advocate here,but 78% of the population are white. It's not surprising that 70% of mass murderers are white.

That they are angry, white males is not in dispute.

Their maleness is certainly over-represented, what with less than 50% of Americans being male.

CNu said...

Why is the media afraid to talk about the relationship between white men, guns, and mass violence? What is the white public afraid of? Would it not be in the interest of the Common Good, and the safety of all people, especially white folks who are the disproportionate victims of mass shootings, to figure out why one cohort of the public is repeatedly involved in this type of spectacular violence?

1. The media is not the public
2. Gun control and citizen disarmament is on the elite establishment agenda
3. The media is an organ of the elite establishment agenda
4. Lanza was diagnosed autistic spectrum and on SSRI's - a well known deadly combination in young males - who at this juncture in the medicalization of cognitive diversity - remain overwhelmingly white.
5. Medicalization and medication is the telltale giveaway among affluent whites of deficient parental investment;

Adam Lanza was Asperger's, had been described as depressed and prescribed SSRI's. These have consistently been shown to have suicidal and homicidal "side effects" on young males. It's not the guns that need control, it's the pharmaceutical industry, but the FDA is part of the corporate crime syndicate in permitting the marketing of such potentially harmful and dangerous mind-altering drugs. This has been the hidden cause of many previous young white male killing sprees over the past five years.

Then of course, there is this issue which I called out on yesterday's compliant and submissive slackjawed feminist stooge thread....,

Ben Nunn said...


So... let's agree your premise that the news media is intentionally or subconsciously avoiding the notion of race in these mass shootings is true.

Okay -- what does this perfect world look like where the connection between whites, guns, and mass shootings is splashed in 400 point type across the nations newspapers:

White Killer Strikes Again -- Hundreds Die.

Is that the headline you want?

Why?

That's all: why?

Will it stop another white nutcase. White nutcases are a well established fact of our world. White nutcases profited from slavery. White nutcases engineered the holocaust. White nutcases exterminated the Native Americans. White Nut cases destroyed the Aztecs.

Let's agree that our recent scourge is not simply nutcases, but what if we talk about them as those white devil nutcases. What then?

You've moved a pawn. Consider it answered. What then. Who gets helped? Is a single shot unfired? Does one of these dead children come back to life? Did you save anyone?

nomad said...

Answered with an ineffectual move. The 'what then' has already been put forth. A discussion of white male pathology. We're already moved beyond that to what that discussion might look like.

I've already learned something new myself. White affluent parents don't invest in their children either. Who knew?

Pinku-Sensei said...

The "white male problem" is being coded as a "conservative problem." People on the Left want to settle scores and have found this incident to be a convenient "trigger" to bring up an issue that pisses off the Right. That the Left's adversaries are mostly White Males is being hidden inside an ideological struggle.

Black Sage said...

You've moved a pawn. Consider it answered. What then. Who gets helped? Is a single shot unfired? Does one of these dead children come back to life? Did you save anyone? – Ben Nunn

Doing something is unquestionably better than doing nothing. So, what’s your proposition? Is it to allow the murderous rampage of Whites to continue unfettered and unabated, all in the name of normalizing the deeds of Whites? Hurry with your answer, the entire world is watching and laughing simultaneously at this Eagle empire’s sheer, racist follies.



chaunceydevega said...

@Butch. White men are grossly over-represented at almost twice their number in the general population among mass shooters. Why the fear of stating the obvious? No excuse making--remember we believe in "personal responsibility."

@Ben. Be careful. So where is your protest as headlines and news stories about black criminal and hispanic criminals? All I ask for is fairness. It is a common deflection of Whiteness and the White Racial Frame to run away from such fair expectations.

@Pinku. Yes, guns are a white conservative problem culturally, policy wise, and ideologically. Let them be held personally accountable. Is that not what they believe? Do not drink the Limbaugh Kool Aid that evil liberals want to "politicize" gun violence. Duh, gun violence is inherently political in all regards and ways.

CNu said...

Yes, guns are a white conservative problem culturally, policy wise, and ideologically.

Is that because the negroe male is too emasculated to do what the khyber/pashtun male does - absent the limitless energy and material resources at our disposal?

buncha baby-boy bitches...,

chaunceydevega said...

@Cnu. Again with this theme? Really? So black men are not committing enough incidents of mass shootings and killing innocent kids? If we did this, we would be more "manly" and correct our "emasculation?"

You can't be arguing such a claim. I think and do hope you are playing a deeper game here.

CNu said...

rotflmbao..., I haven't changed my opinion....,

GT said...

You seem to be completely missing Butch's point. Yes white men are over-represented. So are non-white men. The reason being there are almost no women mass murderers so half the population is extremely underrepresented.

Since its almost exclusively a male problem, is it one where a disproportionate amount of those males are white males? No, in fact statistically they are a bit underrepresented, though with the small sample size they are not so much so that anything meaningful can be deducted from it. Thus your attempt to force feed this to fit your preferred narrative is a major failure.

chaunceydevega said...

@GT. In elementary school they would tell us to please show your math work. White men are about 30 percent of the population--perhaps less actually--and about 70 percent of mass shooters.

What mental gymnastics and assumptions are you using which are buried deep in the footnotes to suggest that they are not over-represented in this category.

I see your assumption--men commit these crimes so I will include them with all white people in the aggregate. That is piss poor methodology. Treat apples like apples and oranges like oranges.

What are you afraid of?

makheru bradley said...

In 2010, 5,942 Black males were murdered. 94 percent of those murders were committed by other Black males.

chaunceydevega said...

@mb. hell of a thing ain't it? and no where near the ink, real or otherwise is expended on really solving that puzzle. black folks lives are cheap and disposable. and so many of us have internalized that decision rule to enable murder.

JK said...

Here's the thing, you aren't treating apples like apples and oranges like oranges. You're conflating one over-represented statistic (males account for 98% of mass shootings in US) with another somewhat average statistic (white people account for 70% of mass shootings in US) and singling out one race of the many over-represented male demographics in mass shootings to fit your narrative.

You never mention the numbers for any other race, Mr. "In elementary school they would tell us to please show your math work." That's ok though, I did a little tallying up of the MJ article. Black males account for 16% of mass shootings in the US but only represent 6% of the population. They compromise more than twice their percentage among mass shooters. Yet, there is no "national conversation" on the matter.

Learn to math! Your whole argument stinks, and that's why nobody is talking about your fabricated relationship between white men, guns, and mass violence. It has as much strength as the relationship between black men, guns, and mass violence.

chaunceydevega said...

@JK. Thanks for the response.

1. Men commit the most violent crime. We need to discuss this and figure out why. Privileged and entitled white men are apparently very prone to killing lots of people. Why is this? What is going on culturally with white masculinity? Are you not the least bit curious?

2. White men are over-represented, by almost twice their number among those who commit mass shooting. I get the slight of hand you are suggesting. I am simply using a basic fact to work through why we do not racialize white crime. What is the fear? Why is their resistance?

3. Black men and people of color are racialized relative to these crime memes so there is nothing really new there. Again, how would the argument and the media coverage be different if people of color (or Arab Americans or Muslims) were killing people in mass shootings every so many months? Think harder.

4. Quite a few prominent people are picking up my narrative about race, masculinity, and mass shootings. It is now in quite a few prominent places. Don't be a hater now.

4. Do white people commit certain types of crimes more than others? Why are many white folks afraid of asking hard questions, apparently against their own self interest--about why their kids and men go off and kill people by the dozens?

White privilege and the white racial frame can kill you. They really are noxious.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing this out. There is a lot to fix in the way the media and many individuals have different reactions to white vs. black violence, but this is more a male problem than a white male problem. Consider also that in many predominantly black schools there is greater security, so that the violence gets taken outside of the school and is not counted as school violence.

Anonymous said...

There is a major flaw in this article. It is established that females do not commit mass murders. Then they should not be considered in the percentage. White males commit 70 percent and male
minorities commit about 30 percent. That would seem to be closer to the actual percent of white males in U.S.

Anonymous said...

Men make up more than 75% of the population which is why they commit more mass murders and it will go on for a couple of years. And women are more likely to be victims of mass murder compared to men because they're usually the targets no matter how equal or dominant they try to be. Men will always be dominant.

Anonymous said...

Another thing, anything that involves women objectifying men encourages men to be violent. Men with poor body image are also more likely to be violent.

old white woman said...

I got here though vagabond scholar through drift glass. I will come back again. Your perspective about the invisibility of "whiteness" in relation to crime in the media is well-taken, and an eye-opener to me. Of course, and so obvious when finally said (and said well).

But also, on any given day, any given woman is subject to epithets of slut, bitch, frigid man-hating cunt, tossed off from a passing car, a construction site, a spiteful comment from a partner. And violence from women is not the common consequence.

Are not these two aspects of your thesis, both of which derive from the power to own, to objectify, to dominate.

Ankhesen Mié said...

White nutcases are a well established fact of our world. White nutcases profited from slavery. White nutcases engineered the holocaust. White nutcases exterminated the Native Americans. White Nut cases destroyed the Aztecs.

Except they weren't nutcases. They were the norm.

brian said...

That is not true ..yes whites have been to blame for majority of mass shootings...but u should know the majority of there victims are white as well.much like how black on black murders in every major city every single day and night.

Sam Larsen said...

Nothing frightens me more than a skinny white teenage male with gun and an insecurity complex. Very well written article. Extremely insightful.

K Craig said...

White nutcases profited from slavery. And there were blacks and other races who also profited from slavery, including the slavery of white sailors.


White nutcases engineered the Holocaust - and blacks nutcases engineered Rwanda and no doubt numerous other genocides lost to history. You fail to note that whites stopped both the Holocaust and Rwanda. So apparently there are whites who aren't "nutcases" and aren't entirely the norm.


White nutcases exterminated the Native Americans - would you like to point out to me the other races that were in the position to do this? Would you like to explain to me what was different (outside of scale) about the exterminations that happened amongst many tribes in the US prior to the arrival of whites?
White nutcases destroyed the Aztecs.....with help from the Aztec's neighbors - who viciously hated them after suffering horrendous multi-generational oppression.

Your white hatred doesn't seem to logically hold up very well

K Craig said...

There is no over-representation of whites in mass shootings. The author is lying....and quite transparently to anyone with some common sense.



The real irony is that unlike any dominance of the past white male dominance has been largely GIVEN AWAY.

Who freed the slaves with their own blood? White males.
Who forced other white men to allow black men to vote? White males.
Who voted to allow white and black women to vote? White males
Who voted in the Civil Rights Act? White males.


Of course there are thousands of examples of different races dominating, enslaving, or oppressing other groups. Including the oppression of Northern Europeans. And yet it is almost impossible to find are cases where the oppressed group became equals without themselves defeating or at least doing a great deal of harm to the dominant group. Thus white males VOLUNTARILY giving up their privilege and power is a very unique event in world history.
Care to point out another example? Care to point out at which point in American or World history whites simply could not defeat the darker-skinned people of the world? The closest we have come in hundreds of years is probably currently because of China.

And all the PC left can spare is more hatred for white male. Your racism is equally ugly if not more ugly than that of the white racist.

K Craig said...

1. Men do commit most murder and this has been discussed extensively. I'm not sure we'll come to the answer anytime soon. As to your comment "Privileged and entitled white men are apparently very prone to killing lots of people" -- on what are you basing this? What are you even talking about? Are you talking about mass shootings in the US? They commit murder at exactly their 'fair share' of the mass murders amongst men. Black males actually commit a slightly higher percentage of mass murders when you take demographics into account. Murders in general are very disproportionately committed by blacks and Hispanics.

Your comments about mass shootings in the US are absurd. You say 70% of the mass shootings are done by white men and yet over that period that is about what percent of the population of males that were white. So they probably aren't over-represented at all.

You are using slight of hand and you know it.

It WOULD be different if Arab-Americans were doing shootings every so many months because they make up a tiny percentage of the population. I would not be surprised if they are over-represented in mass shootings.

Mirquella Santos said...

Some people are plain stupid. The writer is not saying that there aren't non-white mass murderers. He is saying that the vast majority of mass murderers are white males and that's a fact. White folks make excuses for mass murderers and refused to admit the facts. I am Latino and I am afraid of white males and even stop going to the theater because of them. White males mass murder the Native Americans and their children are following their footsteps.

Akeel said...

Person, there has always been a "national conversation" on black men and crime starting far back when racist whites created Birth of a Nation that sowed the ground of the criminalized black men, and through the period of the so-called "war on drug". Learn history!!

Joe Smoo said...

Major Findings
There is more black-on-white than black-on-black violent crime.
Of the approximately 1,700,000 interracial crimes of violence involving blacks and whites, 90 percent are committed by blacks against whites.
Blacks are therefore up to 250 times more likely to do criminal violence to whites than the reverse.
Blacks commit violent crimes at four to eight times the white rate.
Hispanics commit violent crimes at approximately three times the white rate,and Asians at one half to three quarters the white rate.
Blacks are twice as likely as whites to commit hate crimes.
Hispanics are a hate crime victim category but not a perpetrator category.
Hispanic offenders are classified as whites, which inflates the white offense rate and gives the impression that Hispanics commit no hate crimes.
Blacks are as much more dangerous than whites as men are more dangerous than women.

The Truth said...

Is this serious? You are clueless. It is a well-known stereotype that all school shooters are white. This is only because the metal detectors at black schools force them to kill each other outside of school. yeah, i said it.

The Truth said...

you sound stupid