Identity Crisis

The other day, I commented on how quite a few observers — mainly liberal — had expressed relief that the Tucson shooter was a white man. They didn’t couch it quite so blatantly; rather, they were glad that the shooter wasn’t Latino or Muslim.

I explored that a little, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had only talked about half the story. So let’s correct that.

Imagine, for a moment, that the shooter had not been a white man. Say the shooter had been a Latino man. Or a Muslim. Or a black man. Or an illegal alien — a Latino illegal alien, just to play the odds. Or a woman. Or a gay man.

Hell, go all out and say the shooter was a half-black, half-Mexican illegal alien Muslim lesbian.

And just to keep the parallel going, assume that the shooter says nothing about his or her motives. Unlike the Fort Hood shooter, who cryptically shouted “Allahu Ackbar!” while murdering 13 of his fellow shoulders and wounded another 30 — did anyone ever figure out what the heck he might have meant by that, and what sort of bearing, if any, it had on his motivation?

So, replay the shooting in your mind. How would you have reacted, in each case? How would the media change their coverage? And at what point after the shooting would the professional left stop blaming Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement for the shooting?

That last one’s a trick question. My money is they’d immediately shift the focus from generic “inflammatory rhetoric” to specifically talking about how the right’s “traditional hatred and intolerance of and discrimination against X” where “X” is the aspect of the shooter that makes him or her not a white male.

Go ahead. Game it out.

Personally, I’m pretty comfortable that my own reaction would be the same — “No compassion.” Oh, I’d certainly be a bit more interested in exploring the motives of the shooter were they a Muslim, as Muslims seem exceptionally susceptible to a very unusual condition called “Sudden Jihad Syndrome.” Or if they were an illegal alien, as Representative Giffords is an unusual Democrat who was actually quite sensible and reasonable on that issue. (That is, she pretty much agrees with me.) Or if they were Mexican, as the Mexican drug cartels have quite a history for assassinating public officials in their own country, and Representative Giffords was interested in meddling with their business by increasing American border security.

And yeah, if it turned out the shooting had a political motive, or was part of a bigger conspiracy, I’d be howling for blood almost as loudly as the professional left is. (I’m not quite as good at it as they are — as they say, practice makes perfect.)

But back to the shooter — again, “no compassion.”

As a nation, we dodged a bullet avoided what could have been an opportunity to venture into the minefield explore the treacherous ground that is identity politics. (Dang, it’s tough to avoid the violent rhetoric and metaphors!) The shooter was of the one group that is denied “minority” status, and all the rights and prerogatives thereof, that tend to reduce the individual culpability and focus more on their identity as part of a group. But we should not let the opportunity pass to open a dialogue on a very important topic.

Good God, She Really Is That Stupid
Who bears the guilt of the Tucson shootings?