White Males are Not the Problem

After every shooting involving a white male, excepting of course Muslims, my newsfeed lights up with memes about how white males are the problem. It’s meant to push back against the perception that people only blame Muslims, who are a majority white in American, for mass shootings. In other words, it’s Islamic apologia.

Just imagine that, after every gang slaying, memes erupted saying black males are the problem. After all, black males are responsible for the greatest number of homicides in America despite being less than six percent of the US population. If I were to come back at every instance of black shooting with a meme about the overrepresentation of blacks in homicide and other violent crimes like robbery, and stamped it with “Black males are the problem,” progressives would cry racism. And the way these memes exclude Muslims from their identification of “white males” even though Muslim terrorists in the United States are for the most part white (yes, Omar Mateen and Nidal Hasan, who killed 62 people between them were white) signals something quite perverse in the progressive worldview.

Dylann Storm Roof opened fire at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine.

The problem is straightforward. Muslim terrorists operate on the basis of an ideology. They are part of a definable group with beliefs that move agency. These beliefs are a call to violence. The same is true for neo-Nazis. Neo-Nazis are adherents to a belief system that comes with motives to do violence.

Ideologies are not protected categories. Islam is not analogous to race, even if race is a social construction. “Black male” and “white male” are not ideologies. They are abstractions, specifically demographic categories. As such they don’t have agency. Agency is something possessed by actual persons.

To say white males are the problem is a racist claim just as much as saying that black males are a problem. These statements attribute to all individuals of a racial category motives and actions conducive to violence. I am a white man. What motives and actions conducive to violence can you pin on me? What ideology do I espouse that makes me a danger to people at a mall or a school?

The enthusiasm with which some leftists push this false and racist narrative troubles our nation. It’s not helpful to building solidarity among members of the working class, most of whom are white, solidarity we desperately need in the struggle against capitalism. Is it any wonder that so many whites don’t feel like the left is where they should be? Why would a white man be part of an ideology that centers race and condemns him for his whiteness?

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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