From Terrorism to White Privilege

I start a lot of posts about discrimination that I don’t finish. I care deeply about the issue, but I also get frustrated because I feel like my take on the issue is sufficiently off the beaten path that it won’t have any impact.

But of course when I write it out like that I feel silly. Do I really think anything I write is going to have a material impact on a national debate? Nope. (That’s actually the topic for another post: why I bother writing at all given the futility of the whole thing). So, having sufficiently lowered the bar for myself, I may as well start with Tim Wise’s comments on the the Boston Marathon bombers and white privilege.

It was clear from very on that both the American Left and American Right were semi-privately hoping that the attacker would come with the “right” pedigree. The American Right was deeply afraid that this would be another Timothy McVeigh, further solidifying the impression of the Right as the violent wing of American politics. Meanwhile, the American Left just as clearly hoped that white guys were to blame:

Yeah, I was hoping for a white guy, because I know the way that American is reactionary, and has proven so in the past. The way that they go after [minorities]. You know, after 9/11 they were killing Sikh Indians in gas stations in Texas, or a Sikh Indian. And it was very difficult, the profiling that happened after that. So, yeah, I think it keeps the flames down.

The quote above (from Current TV host Michael Shure) actually makes sense: if you’re worried about collateral damage from the response to the bombing, then that damage will much likely be greater if the attacker is a minority rather than a white American. Of course, the first hurdle is that we’re worrying about collateral damage from a potential future response before we’ve even laid the first victims to rest. 

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