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Another week, another young white male gone postal, this one stepping up to a teacher at a junior high dance in Pennsylvania and capping him point-blank for no discernible reason.
Let’s examine a few stereotypes. Guy gets arrested because he’s suspected of shooting a rival drug dealer. Young teenaged black male, right? Guy walks into a local Shoney’s, opens fire, and kills seven people before turning the gun on himself. White dude all the way.
I will give my black brothers one thing: At least they have a reason for shooting someone. It may be simplistic, but at least they offer some excuse: “He stepped on my shoe,” or “I wanted his coat,” or “He looked at me funny.” Now white boys, that’s another story. You ask some white guy why he killed and dismembered seven people and he’ll say, “I don’t knowI wanted to see what it would be like.”
As a black person, I have to say, “What’s up with that?”
What drives these vacant-eyed, remorseless golems? Is it something in the European gene pool, or could an environment of hermetic vinyl-sided housing and no-exit cul-de-sacs have something to do with it? Now, I have been in some suburbs that have made me feel like killing myself, but none have left me in the mood to kill a bunch of other folks. The underpinnings may be difficult to discern, but the white community has no curiosity about the pathologies that seem to be overtaking the males in its midst.
Whites may not give a damn, but all of these headlines have me spooked. I’m ashamed to admit it, but as a black woman, I am becoming afraid of white males. When I walk down a deserted street and encounter a white male, an unreasonable fear overcomes me. I know it’s not right, judging all white men by the actions of a misguided few, but I can’t help myself. I see a lone white malepreteen to early 40sand Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and now, those murderous little freaks from Arkansas come to mind. I fear for my life.
If white women really want to protect themselves, they’ll do well to beware of that nice, quiet, white man down the hall who lives alone and isn’t seen very much, instead of wasting time clutching their purses in elevators or on the street when they happen to encounter a black man.
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I want to see the innate goodness of white males, their innocence, their dreams in abeyance. But the cold facts don’t lie: White men are falling apart, and now the pathology is showing up in young white boys. I mean, what were those boys up in Silver Spring talking about while they chopped up their friend and loaded him into a wheelbarrow? One after another, white kids are tipping over into predatory craziness, an atavism that allows them to kill large numbers of innocent people as if life were an action movie or a video game. The white-dominated press may still be wringing its hands over black-on-black crime, but as a citizen and an African-American, I fear for white culture and its growing tendency to rationalize away a monster in its midst.
There’s obviously a pervasive community pathology at work here, one that bears investigation. At least a few scientists have taken an interest in the underlying phenomena of whites’ tendencies to commit murder in bunches for no particular reason. Dr. Janet Warren of the University of Virginia, Robert Hazelwood of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, and Dr. Park Dietz of the UCLA School of Medicine published the results of a study in the February 1992 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin that concluded a disproportionate number of serial and mass killers are white men. The study found that, of sexually sadistic serial killers, 95 percent were white males and 65 percent came from middle-class backgrounds. Now there’s a difference between a grown-up white man preying on women and some kid taking target practice on his schoolmates, but it’s really just the same pathology being played out at a younger age.
John Douglas, author of the book Mindhunter, is a pioneer in the field of serial killer psychology and helped set up the FBI behavioral science unit. Douglas also reports that white males are disproportionately represented among the population of serial and mass killers.
Almost none of these killers target heterosexual white men. Think about it: The alpha dog preys on the weaker elements, and the practice is tacitly sanctioned through politics, media, culture. The white male killer merely takes the unspoken contract to prey on those without power a little more seriously than the rest of us. There are serial killers who focus on women, many who focus on homosexual men, and some who kill outside of the white race (rarely, because it is harder to get close enough to build the trust to make the kill). But all prey on those who are socially or physically weaker than themselves. “It’s the power: manipulation, domination, and control,” said Douglas when asked about motivation. “They’re all inadequate; they’re all seeking power.”
If white men can’t have their power in legitimate wayssitting behind a desk wielding their prerogative over cowering minions, bossing the wife around at home, or keeping those pesky homosexuals and minorities in their place by legislating away their rightsthey find other avenues. As John Douglas says, “These are crimes of anger and power.”
After the shootings in Arkansas, experts popped up everywhere, lamenting the recent spate of shootings in Southern towns. It’s the culture of guns and hunting in rural communities, they bleated; it’s the downfall of our youth, they howled. Not one of them noted the one startling similarity in all of the recent young killers.
Repeat after me: Young. White. Males.
Now, when a young brother from Clifton Terrace shoots someone outside a movie theater, you will hear all about fatherless black families and a community preying on itself. But where are these same experts when Joe Whitedude has a bad day at work or school and expresses his disappointment with an automatic weapon?
When a white man tips over, it’s all this race-neutral shit about the media culture of violence and the prevalence of guns in American households. Say what you want, but that gobbledygook does not explain why a middle-aged white guy responds to a change in job classification by coming back to work and shooting the messenger. And you can’t blame the media for some kid taking his sweet time killing his classmates because some little dolly has turned down his affections. And while we’re at it, when they show the hospital workers who are sneaking around and playing God by killing off people they are charged with helping, you never see a black face in those mug shots, now do you?
White males are supposed to have everythingyou know it, I know it, and, more importantly, they know it. They are top dog; they have the powerand they use it. But when all usual avenues of power are cut off, they get pretty damn angry about it and find a box of hollow points to help them share the pain. For three decades in this country’s increasingly violent history, the microscope has been on the black community. Perhaps it’s time to look for some answers at the other end of the microscope.
Maybe the latest fatality will help our white brothers and sisters come together and work to end the craziness. It’s time for the community of white fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters to begin asking some tough questions:
•What causes white-on-white crime?
•What is it about the white nuclear family that is producing children so devoid of conscience?
•What kind of hopelessness creates
a situation in which young white men place so little value on the lives
•Where is the Million White Man March? Why isn’t Pat Buchanan exhorting white men to take responsibility for their brothers and never
kill another innocent white child?
And while we’re at it, why have there been no calls from white leaders? What solutions have Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, or other white leaders offered to help their brothers? Where is Ted Koppel with Nightline’s town meeting on “The Crisis Among White Males: A Nation’s Guilt?” Where are the programs to help white males get over their anger toward themselves and their white brethrenthe twilight golf leagues or sunrise bowling programs to intervene before angry white boys grow into angry white men who prey on us all? Somehow, some way, we must join together as a society to reassure white males that their dominant roles in our society are safe. Our very lives depend on it.CP