The Book!

Friday, June 24, 2016

The World According to Mr. Jones



Van Jones

Van Jones, former advisor to President Obama, recently commented on CNN about Trump's suggestion that, repugnant as he finds it, we may need to start racial profiling to fight jihadism. The headline for the story is “White Christian men commit most mass shootings, so why not racially profile them?”

Paybakc time: how are those white Christians who support Trump going to like it if they are the ones being profiled?

“I just think it’s really interesting that we’re talking about racially profiling in the context of mass shootings,” Jones said. “The vast majority of the people who are doing the mass shootings in America aren’t Muslims at all.”

“Young white men…” CNN host Brooke Baldwin interjected.

Everybody knows that, right? Jones didn't even have to say, it, only drop the hint, and the point was made for him by the helpful interviewer. Most mass shootings are done by “whites.”

Only problem is, it's not true. I just checked the stats online. Turns out 44% of mass shooters are “white.” Their proportion of the US population is over 76%.

If you're talking racial profiling, the average white individual is, based on that characteristic alone, about half as likely to commit the crime as a non-white. It is still non-whites you would want to target.

My numbers here are simply the first figure for each that came up in a Google search: first, ethnicity of mass shooters, then the ethnic proportions of the US population. May not be perfect as statictical analysis, but the randomness of the method makes it unlikely they are skewed to a particar desired political outcome.

Like so many facts that “everyone knows,” this myth of the white mass shooter was probably originally a deliberate lie planted for political advantage. There are so many of them: the claim that one in five college co-eds gets sexually harassed, that women make 76 cents on the dollar compared to men, that men used to be allowed to beat their wives so long as the rod used was no thicker than a thumb, the smallpox blankets, the Beothuk genocide, and so on and on. And yes, I seems it is the left that is generally responsible for these lies. As Lenin used to say, the end justifies the means. And few ever check the claims, because it becomes one of those things that, as Ward Churchill would say, “everyone knows.”

Jones makes even wilder claims. He goes on, “If a Christian shoots somebody, we don’t say a Christian shot them. But if a Muslim shoots somebody, we say a Muslim shot them. I think that’s starting to muddy the waters.”

That might work, if there were records of any mass murderers spraying the crowd with bullets while crying out “Jesus loves you.” Perhaps as familiar, in it's way, as “Allahu Akbar,” but not really in the same context. Soomehow, it just doesn't seem to fit the occasion.

Have there been any mass murderers who could be clearly identified as Christian, much less having murdered for Christianity?

It goes without saying, surely, that anyone doing so could not, in fact, be a Christian in any real sense, because he was violating a basic tenet of Christianity in doing so. That is probably also true of Islam, but in the latter case it is less clear and has, historically, been far more debatable, including within Islam.

Possibly Jones could point to an incident or two in which someone shot an abortionist. But if this is where his claim comes from, there are several problems with this. First of all, these are not mass murders. They are individual killings. Take all individual killings into the mix, and you discover that killers in general are overwhelmingly likely to be black. Second, the killer's motive may in such a case have nothing in particular to do with Christianity. That must still be demonstrated. They might just as well be motivated by the US Declaration of Independence, which asserts a universal human right to life. If this is so, as the dEclaration of Independence says, by natural law, they are morally in the right, and if the law does not agree, that only means the government is not doing its job. If this is not so, one must accept at the same time the awkward conclusion that the US has no right to exist. Third, if you point to shootings of abortionists, you cannot then exclude abortionists themselves from your list of mass murderers. Heavily reweighting the tally, probably against your preferences, to the left.

Gets complicated.

Then Jones says, “You are seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist—a racist or an anti-government nut job--...than a Muslim.”

Quickly now, can you think of any mass shooters who were, in fact, politically right-wing? I can think of no shooters, but one bomber, Timothy McVeigh. That's one. I trust Jones, like myself, has not yet run out of fingers. Before Islamism came into vogue, though, the usual pretext for any sort of mass killing was Marxism. Remember the Symbionese Liberation Army? Remember the Weathermen? Remember Baader-Meinhoff? Remember the Red Guards? Remember the Black Panthers? Remember the FLQ? Remember the IRA? Remember the People's Army? Anti-government, sure, but since when has Marx been the prophet of the right-wing? Since when was being anti-government a distinctly rightist thing? When was mass killing ever a rightist thing in the US?

Jones also slyly seems to equate “right-wing”with “racist.” What is and is not “right-wing” is a slippery thing to determine objectively, but if we take “Republican” to represent, overall, the US right, and “Democrat” overall to be the party of the left, then the case is unequivocal. Racism is a left-wing thing, not right-wing. Certainly it is so today. Democratic politics is all about race; Republican politics tends to emphasise the individual.

Meaning, if Jones is otherwise right, that mass-shooters are mostly left-wing and naturally Democrats.

And, of course, there is another problem with his statement. Why can't a Muslim be either racist or anti-government? Sounds like a case of the common deeply racist, and so self-contradictory, notion that “only white people can be racists.”

Thanks for the clarification, Mr. Jones.


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