Aside from attacks on the Second Amendment, there is a certain theme that’s now repeated after every massacre committed by an unhinged individual: that most all mass killers are white. After the recent Elliot Rodger murders, for instance, Michael Moore said that he no longer had “anything to say” before immediately saying, “Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males.” Not to be one-upped in the inanity department by a mass of male whiteness, one Brittney Cooper at Salon wrote, “How many times must troubled young white men engage in these terroristic acts that make public space unsafe for everyone before we admit that white male privilege kills?” Ironically, Cooper had mentioned, parenthetically, that “as many commenters have pointed out, [Rodger] had a white father and mother of Asian descent,” but, hey, you can’t let a minor detail get in the way of a good racial screed. And perhaps mass killing is such a Caucasian domain that perpetrating one bestows a person with honorary whiteness. Yet about this we should ask a question:
Before rushing to play pin the tale on the honkey, did anyone bother to check the history of mass killings?
Because I have — a comprehensive list dating from 1982 through 9/16/2013 is found at Mother Jones here — and guess what?
Of the last 20 mass killings of that period, 9 were perpetrated by non-whites.
That would be 45 percent, which exceeds non-whites’ 37 percent share of the population.
Of the last 30 mass killings, 11 were committed by non-whites — right at the 37 percent mark.
And what if we go all the way back to 1982? We then have 66 mass killings in which the races of the perpetrators were known, and 22 of them, or one-third, were at the hands of non-whites. Note here that America’s demographics have been changing, with non-whites comprising only about 20 percent of the population in 1982; thus, if we consider an approximate average non-white population of 28.5 percent during the 31-year period in question, it appears that, again, mass murderers are disproportionately non-white.
In other words, there is no evidence whatsoever that mass killings are a characteristically white phenomenon.
And there never was.
In fact, the group most disproportionately represented on the Mother Jones chart is Americans of Asian descent. While only 6 percent of the population, they have been 15 percent of the 31-year period’s last 20 mass killers, 13 percent of the last 30, and 9 percent of the last 66. This is quite interesting, too, since Americans of Asian descent have a very low crime rate in general.
So in light of this, why are whites implicated in mass killings? The answer is one word:
Note that prejudice is defined as, “1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.” Claiming that a group commits a disproportionate amount of crime when, if anything, the truth is the opposite, is the epitome of forming beliefs without knowledge, thought, or reason. It’s seizing upon a fashionable falsehood for the purposes of maligning an unfashionable group and advancing a fallacious agenda.
The truth is that if we don’t want to be “cowards” on race, as Eric “the Red” Holder said Americans were, we do need to speak frankly about criminality in the US. But does this involve talking about “troubled young white men” who “make public space unsafe for everyone,” as Brittney Cooper suggested? Perhaps she might want to consult with Jesse Jackson, who once said that when he walked down the street, heard footsteps and thought robbery, he’d “feel relieved” if he turned around and saw a white person behind him. So, really, if we were cynical, we could think that the Coopers of the world were trying to deflect attention from black criminality by trumpeting the white-mass-killer myth.
Then again, this all could just be the result of the new Common Core math. Take Elliot Rodger, for instance. He killed half his victims with a knife, but the whole focus was on guns. (And he’s widely referred to as a “shooter.” I think he was a slasher.) He was half Asian, but the whole focus was on whites. You could also call it situational attribution: a mixed race person is defined by his minority half when he achieves, as with our first “black” president. But when such an individual is recognized as having committed a crime, he’s suddenly white. This can only make us wonder how long it will be before Barack Obama becomes white.
Anyway, the left may be upset that another one of their themes, the white-mass-killer myth, has bitten the dust. But all is not lost. In the area of massacres as in so many other things, they can always celebrate diversity.