David Sirota has an article up on Salon.com titled Let's hope the Boston marathon bomber is a white American. Great title David, and we'd be inclined to agree, but you lost us as "Salon.com." Here's the gist of Sirota's argument:
[W]hite 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.
[...] If recent history is any guide, if the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident — one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates. Put another way, white privilege will work to not only insulate whites from collective blame, but also to insulate the political debate from any fallout from the attack.
Remember how in the aftermath of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut the shootings ended up having absolutely no bearing on any larger policy debates? Ohhh, right, they did. Congress and the nation has been debating gun regulation ever since.
But hey, James Eagan Holmes and Adam Lanza were treated like lone wolves! The entirely of white maledom wasn't blamed for their actions! What gives?
Well, of course all the evidence points to them being lone wolves, and nothing points to their being white as having anything to do with their motives. (Being male probably does have something to do with it, given that nature has dealt men a hand more likely to be violent and suffer from a mental illness that manifests itself violently.)
But if white people weren't collectively blamed by Holmes and Lanza, why do Muslims get collectively blamed for attacks by Islamist terrorists? I mean, just listen to this speech by George W. Bush just 9 days after the September 11th attacks.:
The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.
The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the Taliban regime. It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder.
[...] I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.
Wow! You can just smell the white male privilege dripping from that fiery rhetoric! It really takes an uppity white dude to tell the world how peaceful the vast majority of Muslims are. Where does he get off?
When we said David had a great title, we meant it. He just wrote the wrong article. We do hope that the bomber was a white American. Hopefully a white Christian American. Why? Not because it's going to insulate foreigners from prejudice, but because white male domestic terrorists do in fact tend to be lone wolves. We hope he was a lone wolf because that's preferable to hoping there's an organized terrorist organization that's going to continue carrying out attacks.
Domestic terrorists aren't painted as part of a larger conspiracy because there isn't one. The terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11th were described as part of a large, international terrorist organization because they were.
If we can't have a white American as the culprit, we'll settle for a black American. Heck, even one with the name Muhammad, because if you remember, in the wake of the ten Beltway Sniper murders white privilege was extended to blacks to protect the entire black population of the United States from being considered a terrorist organization. Although, the extension of this privilege was probably accidental, as Montgomery County, MD Police Chief Charles Moose suspected the shooter was a white male (because, no surprise, when someone commits a crime that is typically committed by lone white males, criminal profiles suspect the culprit is a lone white male, privilege be damned).