All white men should apologize for the carnage we have rained down on America. After all, since 1982, 55% of all mass shootings in the United States were committed by white men.
I feel like I must apologize for the mass murder in Las Vegas, Nevada this week. The shooter was a 64-year-old white male. I am a 65-year-old white male and feel some sense of obligation to everyone affected by the carnage that was committed by someone who – outwardly – looks like me. The perpetrator is reported to have been relatively wealthy, a gambler, owned multiple guns, and lived in the American southwest – none of which apply to me. I doubt he was a Quaker, but of that I am not certain. That shouldn’t make a difference. By all outward appearances, he is just like me: white, mid 60’s and male. So, I am compelled to apologize.
I expect all my mid-60s white male peers to apologize, as well. In fact, all white men should apologize for the carnage we have rained down on America. After all, since 1982, 55% of all mass shootings in the United States were committed by white men.
When I first heard about the massacre in Nevada I prayed that the gunman wasn’t identified as a white male. Not another one, I thought to myself and prayed. But alas, the killer was another white male. And again – I must apologize.
Isn’t that what we expect when these things happen? If the gunman was black or a Muslim or a Latino, wouldn’t we expect the leaders of the black or Muslim or Latino community to make a public statement affirming how they despise this type of violence and confirming to the broader population that these actions are not condoned nor are they representative of the black or Muslim or Latino community as a whole?
If the perpetrator of the largest mass-murder in American history was a black male or a Muslim male or a Latino male, would it not cause all black or Muslim or Latino people to pause for concern? Concern that they would somehow have to “own” the actions of the murderer because – outwardly – he looked like them. Concern that the broader population would become overcome with fear and hate and resort to violence against them as a people in retaliation for the blood caused by “one of theirs”. Would the black, Latino or Muslim community need to worry that there would be political ramifications as a result of these killings such as a threat of deportation, or a ban on entering the country, or some special corrections sentencing specific to their demographic profile?
But since the shooter was a white male, our black, Muslim and Latino friends cannot be held accountable. The shooter was a white male. I’m a white male, and I apologize. It’s the right thing to do.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.