(Billy Hallowell) At least one writer over at Salon, a progressive media outlet, is hoping that whoever is behind the Boston Marathon bombing “is a white American.” Naturally, this very public proclamation, captured in an article entitled, “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American,” is nabbing attention, particularly because of the writer’s claims about radical Islamic and Caucasian assailants.
Writer David Sirota’s main premise, it seems, is captured just under the article’s headline, where he writes that a double standard exists when dealing with terrorism and other related crimes. Whites, he believes, “are dealt with as lone wolves,” while Islamists are reviled as “existential threats” in the midst of murderous crimes.
At the center of Sirota’s argument is the notion of “white male privilege” — a phenomenon he laments (at least when it comes to solving and dealing with terrorism).
In the author’s view, privilege determines how groups are framed, denigrated and how political reactions take form. In recent mass shootings, Sirota writes that white male privilege has protected caucasian male perpetrators from being collectively mistreated in the same way that he contends “a religious or ethnic minority group” that lacks such privilege would be. We’ll let Sirota explain in his own words:
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. [...]
Because of these undeniable and pervasive double standards, the specific identity of the Boston Marathon bomber (or bombers) is not some minor detail — it will almost certainly dictate what kind of governmental, political and societal response we see in the coming weeks. That means regardless of your particular party affiliation, if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues.