A filmmaker whose body mass index exceeds his IQ tweeted:
Breaking: “Two Americans Bomb Boston Marathon” – both Tsarnaev brothers were registered voters and U.S. citizens. #restofworldyouaresafenow
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) April 19, 2013
Of course, Michael Moore got that wrong, too: only the younger Tsarnaev brother was an American citizen, because the elder, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had a domestic violence complaint filed against him. But the esteemed Mr Moore was just very, very glad that the bombers aren’t Arabs. Somehow, he failed to notice that it appears that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, if he voted last November, would have vote for President Obama. Figures.
An infamous article by David Sirota expressed the “hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American,” and, in a way, Mr Sirota got his wish: the accused terrorists are white — originating from the Caucuses region, they are very definitely Caucasians! — and both1 are Americans.
This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.
Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats — the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts.
“White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation,” writes author Tim Wise. “White privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Dublin. And if he’s an Italian-American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.”
Good thing he thought to stick that “non-Islamic” qualifier in there, because the Tsarnaev brothers are Muslims. Now, they’re not al Qaeda type Islamists, as nearly as we can determine so far, but Islamic is certainly part of their makeup. Apparently Mr Sirota mean a good white Anglo-Saxon Christian American, and was simply overly brief in applying adjectives.
We suppose it’s necessary to point out that this is almost entirely bunk. There have been plenty of nonwhite mass murderers–among them Long Island Rail Road shooter Colin Ferguson (black), Beltway snipers John Muhammad and Lee Malvo (black and Muslim), Wisconsin mass shooter Chai Soua Vang (Laotian) and Virginia Tech’s Seung-Hui Cho (Korean). None were treated as anything other than lone wolves, and it’s been decades since America bombed either Laos or Korea.
Why, it’s almost as though we were responding to mass murderers based not upon the color of their skin but on whether their actions had an actual connection to a larger group or threat or problem.2
Mr Sirota sought to distance himself from his expressed hope via Twitter:
Our reaction to terrorism shouldnt be predicated on the demography of the terrorists. Sad that bigotry apparently obscures this simple truth
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) April 19, 2013
Of course, it was his bigotry which led to his expressed hope that the bombers, when identified, would turn out to be “white (European-descended Christian) Americans.”
Our friends on the left are amazingly good at this: they decry racism at every turn, but if racism means taking judgements and decisions with race being all or part of the basis of those judgements and decisions, the very essence of racial prejudice, then they are just about he most extreme racists your Editor has ever seen.
The Tsarnaev brothers’ demographics completely demolish the beliefs of our friends on the left. They were, just as Mr Sirota hoped, “white Americans,” and, just as the fat filmmaker said, “registered voters and U. S. citizens,”3 but it turns out that it wasn’t being Caucasian that mattered and it wasn’t the younger Mr Tsarnaev’s citizenship which mattered, but something about their beliefs and perhaps their ethnicity within the more general category of being white which mattered.
Conservatives aren’t somehow giving the Tsarnaev’s any slack because they are white, nor were they out there, hoping that the bombers were black or bown or whatever race. Conservatives are concerned with the beliefs and the culture and the attitudes of terrorists, because those are the things which impel people to peace or to war, to civility or to violence; the color of their skin doesn’t matter.
- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a naturalized citizen, while Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a permanent resident. ↩
- The Obama Administration is still treating the terrorist assault by Major Hidal Hasan as “workplace violence” rather than part of Islamis terrorism, despite the fact that Major Hasan was in contact with, and encouraged by, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and Muslim cleric who was deemed sufficiently dangerous by the Obama Administration that he was targeted and killed by a drone strile in Yemen on the direct orders of President Obama. ↩
- See footnote 1. ↩