I’m likely going to get a lot of flack for writing this, but it needs to be said.
If I question the validity of worrying about the feelings of white men at this point, I’m going to be accused of hating white men. Never mind that I’m white myself, my husband is a white man, and most of my male friends happen to be white– if I dare to point out something odd in the way we as a culture revere the anger of white men, I’ll be accused of hating them. I don’t.
But I am puzzled.
When a Latino man commits murder, everyone starts grumbling about immigration, “illegals” and heroin. No one worries about how the Latino community feels. When a black person commits murder, we all grumble about inner cities and thugs. We don’t question how he might have felt. When a Middle Eastern man commits murder, we blame Islam, not feelings.
But every time a mass killer turns out to be a white man, as the Austin bomber, Mark Conditt, was white, everyone starts gazing at his or her navel and asking why white men have so much rage. We’ll all be told we have to be sympathetic, and we’ll give it the old college try. Someone will mention displacement, a loss of the sense of belonging, a loss of purpose. There’ll be discussions of capitalism and student debt. There’ll be talk of smartphones, video games and violent films. Someone will bring up the detrimental effects of divorce on children’s development, and somebody else will get graphic about pornography. It’ll be purported to be the feminists’ fault, because feminists deny men their natural something-or-other by demanding they treat women as equals. It’ll be blamed on gay people recruiting in the public schools or on men being pressured not to wear pink. We’ll blame both poor access to mental health treatement and over-perscription of psychiatric drugs. Someone will mention abortion for no reason at all.
We had this conversation so many times. We’ve puzzled about the Unabomber, Tim McVeigh, Harris and Klebold, Adam Lanza, Jared Lee Loughner, Elliot Rodger, Dylan Roof, Stephen Paddock. Statistics show that most mass shootings in the United States since the 80s were committed by white men. If you’re ever the victim of a mass killing in the United States, you can safely expect that your murderer is male, and white. And every time it happens, we puzzle over what’s gotten white men so upset.
This month, Austin was terrorized by a white man who eventually blew himself up. And people started talking about why. What made Mark Conditt snap? Why was he so angry? What has happened to white men? Where does all this anger come from? Is it because they feel disvalued and displaced in our society? Is it homeschooling?
I guess, in the abstract it would be nice to know.
I’m certainly sorry that white men are so emotional, and I wish there was something within reason I could do to cheer them up.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that when white men feel angry for whatever reason– whether it’s immigrants stealing their jobs, feminists telling them to be sensitive, anti-feminists telling them not to be sensitive; whether it’s divorce or gay marriage or somehow abortion– they ought to be expected to deal with their anger like grown-ups. And we all ought to expect white men to deal with their anger like grown-ups.
White men need to stop taking their anger out on everybody else.
The feelings of an angry, frustrated white man with a gun or a bomb are not more important than the feelings of any other sort of human being, and they’re certainly not more important than our lives. White men need to learn to count to ten and take a deep breath. Maybe take up kickboxing on the weekends. Go to confession. Whatever it takes. Find a way to get this anger out of their systems. Because it’s not an excuse. And the rest of us need to stop pretending it is.
We have to stop coddling angry white men.
(image via Pixabay)