While last year’s rash of mass shootings prompted any number of political questions over the issue of gun control, as well as uncomfortable discussions about the treatment of the mentally ill in America, their fallout managed to avoid the touchy issue of race. However, at least one set of commentators appear determined not to allow that state of affairs to persist.
Enter Charlotte and Harriet Childress, a pair of identical twin sisters who describe themselves this way on their website:
Harriet and Charlotte are consultants, authors, and college faculty who have researched, written, and spoken about issues related to social and political change for more than two decades. They have presented their work in person to thousands of people through more than fifty seminars or speeches in ten states. Charlotte and Harriet have published two books and eighteen articles.
Why do the Childress sisters matter? Because they’ve advanced an…interesting hypothesis about the recent spate of mass shootings: Namely, that the main factor that caused them was the race of the shooters, IE that the shooters were white men. In an op ed for the Washington Post from the beginning of this week, the two sisters write:
If life were equitable, white male gun-rights advocates would face some serious questions to assess their degree of credibility and objectivity. We would expect them to explain:
What facets of white male culture create so many mass shootings?
Why are so many white men and boys producing and entertaining themselves with violent video games and other media?
Why do white men buy, sell and manufacture guns for profit; attend gun shows; and demonstrate for unrestricted gun access disproportionately more than people of other ethnicities or races?
Why are white male congressmen leading the fight against gun control?
If Americans ask the right questions on gun issues, we will get the right answers. These answers will encourage white men to examine their role in their own culture and to help other white men and boys become healthier and less violent.
Needless to say, this “Whites cause mass shootings” argument has spawned its share of detractors, and not just among conservatives. In fact, liberal Detroit news columnist Gene Lyons took on the sisters’ argument in no uncertain terms:
Neatly airbrushed out of the picture were two of the most notorious mass murderers in recent U.S. history: “Beltway snipers” John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.
In 2002, they murdered 10 people in the Washington Post’s primary circulation area for explicitly racial reasons having to do with black nationalism.
Also 2007 rampage shooter Seung-Hui Cho, a Korean immigrant who killed 32 classmates and professors at Virginia Tech. Raised in Fairfax County, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, Cho had been adjudicated “an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness” in a Virginia court, but not hospitalized.[…]
Race tells us nothing about these tragedies. Absolutely nothing.
However, despite the article’s dubious merit, it has attracted massive amounts of attention from the Washington Post’s audience. The article has over 5,000 comments, and even the Post’s satellite blogs have taken notice of its reception. Neither of the twins has commented since the article’s release.