The recent flap between Elijah Cummings and President Trump over what a craphole Cummings district in Baltimore is has brought back the forefront one of the most iron-clad truths in America that we are not allowed to talk about. Almost without fail the worst neighborhoods in America are the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of blacks. Poverty, crime, violence, dependence. There are plenty of poor white areas with issues of poverty and drug use, like Appalachia and many rural areas, but the violence is more concentrated by orders of magnitude in black neighborhoods and regions.
When you point this out, the inevitable response has to do with issues that are external to the black community. It isn't their fault because of the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow, it isn't their fault because "white supremacy", or the most popular excuse, it isn't their fault because of poverty. This video is a great example featuring an interview by Tucker Carlson of a Baltimore city councilman, Robert Stokes, who responds to every question with something about 400 years of oppression. Again, blacks are not the only people that have been poor. My dad and his family grew up in extreme poverty but he never murdered anyone and instead went to medical school, became a doctor and had his own practice. His one brother was in the Navy and then became an engineer with a bunch of patents to his name. His other brother is a skilled tradesman and probably made as much money as his engineer and doctor brothers made (for more on this see Repost: What My White Privilege Looked Like). Lots of groups have faced severe oppression and discrimination in America, from the Irish to Chinese to Indians (from India), yet they have managed to integrate into America and don't have the same severe and perpetual social pathologies that black Americans have exhibited for half a century.
When you are faced with irrefutable facts, like blacks being extremely over-represented in every violent crime and especially in murder, with over half of all murders in America being committed by black males that make up less than 7% of America's total population and further with 75% of all "mass shooters" being black, you can address the actual issues or you can shift blame and refuse to have the hard conversations. Most of the time people choose the latter.
I am not at all suggesting that asking about root causes is a waste of time. It can absolutely be useful, but only as long as you are honest about looking for root causes instead of predetermining the answers based on politics.
That brings us to yesterday. First there was a mass shooting in El Paso with a reported 20 dead as of now and then later last night another shooting in Dayton, Ohio that left at least 10 dead. Over 50 people combined were wounded. In the first shooting, we have a name already, Patrick Crusius, and he supposedly left behind a manifesto that I downloaded but I can't be sure it is really his. He allegedly used as "AK-47" style semi-auto rifle and was arrested by the police. His picture was circulating online and he looks like a stereotypical young white kid, glasses and scrawny. The other shooter hasn't been identified yet (he has since I wrote this) but it seems unlikely that this shooting followed on the heels of El Paso so quickly without some connection. The Dayton shooter is reported by the Dayton Daily-News to have worn a mask and "used a .223-caliber high-capacity magazine rifle", so that suggests some sort of AR-15 variant, or perhaps a Mini-14 but that seems less likely. We don't know much about the second shooter but the first shooter, if that was his manifesto, uses some of the same language as Brenton Tarrant and even references him in said manifesto. He is angry. The shooter early in Gilroy, California also was allegedly heard saying he was angry.
What we never ask after a mass shooting involving a white person is what made them snap. Why are young white men so angry?
This is an important distinction. Asking why someone feels angry is not the same thing as affirming their reasons for being angry and absolutely is not excusing their actions.
My wife had some pretty solid thoughts on this. The first thing to understand is that this anger and helplessness is the result of intentional actions, and it has been going on for a long time.
The first sign of this happening is with young black men. That demographic was not always the way we think of it now, infused with violent hip-hop culture and impregnating anything that moves. Blacks in America used to have far more stable families, married couples raising kids, going to church, etc. While they were often poor, they didn't have the same violent criminality. Starting in the 60s there were multiple factors that steered young black men off the rails. First was the "Great Society" programs that systematically replaced black fathers as providers with the government and created a sense of both entitlement and dependency in the community. Second, the rise of the civil rights movement that quickly was co-opted by more radical movements. Even non-violent leaders like MLK were closet communists. With the assassination of King and the even more radical Malcolm X, violence spiked in black communities. Then came the war on drugs, the crack epidemic and the rise of violent black street gangs, most infamous among them the Crips and the Bloods. Rather than denouncing this, black culture embraced it with hip-hop culture glorifying violence between black men, hatred of the police, awful attitudes toward women and a destructive acceptance of drug use. With fathers out of the picture, their role as providers replaced by government checks and housing, no one was left to keep young black men in line. As a result they went completely off the rails and not only are not getting back on track, but actually getting worse. The future is even more grim as more and more young black men are raised without the presence of fathers, in terrible neighborhoods with no positive male role-models, stuck in crap schools that are crappy because of the quality of students and lack of parental engagement. That isn't going to end well.
Young black men were easy to destroy, the low hanging fruit if you will, thanks to cultural and genetic factors like impulsiveness and high time preference. Young white men have proven more resilient but the wheels are starting to come off. The narrative that claims that young white men are the sole or even the majority of mass shooters is absolutely false (again see this link: DeWayne Craddock And The "Mass Shooting Is A White Guy Thing" Fake Narrative). As is the case with all murders where black men are responsible for over 50%, they are likewise far overrepresented in mass shootings. Having said that, there are a too many examples that keep cropping up to dismiss completely. Something has gone wrong.
It is critical to note that random young white men shooting up public gatherings is a recent concern. A few common misconceptions also need to be addressed.
Firearms have always been readily available to young white men, many of whom grew up shooting, hunting, being involved in scouting, etc. but they didn't shoot up schools or shopping malls. I didn't know many homes as a kid without multiple guns and boys knew how to shoot. I have been shooting since I was a young kid and like many young white kids started off with a BB gun before graduating to my first 20 gauge shotgun. I have been a gun owner since the 80s, never shot anyone and never plan to unless threatened.
The problem is not the availability of guns.
Young white men are also far less masculine in any sense now than they used to be. Today's young men, in spite of endless accusations of "toxic masculinity" are more meek and withdrawn than young men in past eras. In many ways I think the forced submissiveness of our society is more to blame than any excessive "toxic masculinity". Maybe if boys were allowed and encouraged to act like boys instead of being cowed by their female teachers and drugged by their parents, they wouldn't be so angry? Young men are full of testosterone and without the traditional masculine outlets it builds up to a dangerous level. You aren't going to change that no matter what you do. Being masculine and being charged up with testosterone is a biological reality for half the population, just as being hormonal, emotional and sometimes erratic goes with being the other half of the population. Masculinity is natural and normal and it is what has allowed humans to thrive. If anything we need more masculinity, not less.
The problem is not "toxic masculinity".
Believe me, young white men today are also far less "racist". Growing up in the 70s and 80s, people used words like nigger and spic pretty openly, and didn't dance around using code like "The N word" in hushed tones.
The problem is not "racism" or "white supremacy", a term almost no one using could define in a reasonably accurate sense.
Something else has happened.
Again, asking for explanations is not the same thing as affirming those reasons. Whenever we talk about black crime rates, we are given explanations like lack of job opportunities, systematic racism, even the need for more midnight basketball. All of the reasons are external to young black men, the group that consistently commits most of the gun violence in America every year.
When it comes to young white men committing a relatively rare public mass shooting, the problems are all internal and inherent. White men are flawed, naturally full of hate and "white supremacy". Maybe the answer is a little more complicated.
Young white men have spent a lifetime being scolded for things they didn't do and from unfairly benefiting from "white privilege". They see the nation built by the forefathers being overrun by people who wrecked their own nations, entitled people who demand to be extended every right and privilege that others fought and died for. Many of them have been psychoanalyzed and frowned at for normal male behavior, and many of them are pumped full of drugs that seem to do the opposite of what they are purported to do. They are fed a diet of media that spews hatred at them, from Gillette commercials to movies being rewritten to remove any vestige of white men. They are blamed for the problems of every other group, and they see that every other group is permitted and encouraged to organize in opposition to them while they are denied any organized identity.
Compounding this is the systematic silencing of white voices from the public sphere. We live in an era of instant and anonymous communication. When you force voices and opinions out of the public square where they can be debated and discussed and defended, and force them into echo chambers, they create a feedback loop that can have the effect of rapidly radicalizing people. I see it all the time as people who were fairly mild get more and more radicalized by hearing their own most extreme beliefs reiterated and reinforced. It is pretty obvious that there is going to be more of this soon as the government cracks down alongside "private" providers like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook on "white nationalism". That isn't going to make the "white nationalists" stop talking, it is going to drive them further underground which actually reinforces the narrative of being oppressed in their own country.
While it in no way excuses actions like El Paso or Dayton (and he looks like an antifa supporter and a member/supporter of some Socialist gun groups based on recent reports), if we are truly trying to understand what is going on and using the same rules we are supposed to use for black or Latino violence, then we need to address the way our culture expresses such hostility toward young white men. Screaming at non-radicalized young white men and telling them how evil and violent they are is going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let's talk about what is really going on now before it is too late but I fear it already is.