Race & Murder/ Strawperson of "only racism"

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Mon Apr 26 09:05:44 PDT 1999

>>> Mark Rickling <rickling at netzero.net> 04/26/99 02:08AM >>>

Can you refer me to the exact passage in which someone either implicitly or explicitly states that race was *the only* factor leading to the Columbine shootings, *to the exclusion of all other explanations*? I certainly didn't read this in the post to which you are responding, or any other post. Perhaps I missed something. What I am hearing, however, is an argument over the relative salience of race.

It seems to me that the repeated confusion of "race is an important factor" with "race is *the only* issue" is symptomatic of a larger problem many have of coming to grips with racism and the manner in which racial divisions operate in our society.


I agree with Mark Rickling's statement here. This thread is significant because it is "symptomatic of a larger problem many have of coming to grips with racism". A while ago I protested that a media headline saying "Group hated athletes the most". It started out "Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris hurled insults at Jews, blacks and Hispanics at Columbine High School. But they REALLY hated the athletes, who had power and popularity - everything they didn't." This seems to me an effort to downplay the importance of racism in the twisted thinking of the sad teenagers. To say hating athletes is the "real" problem here.

Others on the list have noted the evidence that racism was part the boys' mentality.

Of course, I didn't write a comprehensive analysis of all the other aspects of their psyches, based on the bits and pieces of information coming out. I have no problem stipulating that sexism and generalized ALIENATION FROM LIVING IN A PHONY, HYPOCRITICAL, MONEYGRUBBING capitalist society were probably part of their state of mind. Remember I have probably as many posts as anyone on this list against capitalism. So, it should not be so hard to believe that I believe these youths were troubled in many ways. Saying that racism was part of this toxic state of mind does not in the least contradict seeing other forms of alienation in it.

But those who have trouble coming to grips with racism lept to argue in response to my post and that of others that we are overstating the importance of racism in their motives or minds. They are so anxious to understate the importance of racism that rush to attribute to us the position that racism was the ONLY motive or state of mind, a position that is so simplisitic that it is easily ridiculed, a true strawperson. Some started to argue as if because there is also a trend of boys killing girls , of male supremacy, that those pointing out racism were ( I guess) ignoring the male supremacy. That is a true non-sequitur. and shows how far people will reach to deny racism, for those of us who oppose racism have no problem saying that there is a dual problem of sexism and racism in this society.

Not surprisingly this contorted argumentation is a form of the denial of racism which is rampant today. Ridiculous mistatement of the arguments of those who protest racism and arguing against the resulting strawperson is one of forms today of failing to come to grips with racism, avoiding the big problem of racism.

What should concern white people is that racist thinking is very often linked to the fascistic thinking of homegrown U.S. terrorists like McVeigh and the most recent murderers. Hitler was not just a racist murder either. And the denial that racism is widespread in the U.S. allows racism to grow and fester, nurturing its most extreme and violent expresssions.

Charles Brown

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