Reaction to “Why Most Mass Murders are Privileged White Men” by Hugo Schwyzer

The article by Hugo Schwyzer entitled “Why Most Mass Murders are Privileged White Men” took a very interesting viewpoint on how white, middle-class men are more prone to taking their anger and frustrations out by shooting up public places then are many other races. In his argument I think that Schwyzer makes some valid points. I think it is interesting how Schwyzer points out that when a man of color is responsible for a mass shooting, it is commonplace procedure to immediately look for connections between his race or religion and the reasons for his behavior. When a white man commits a mass murder however, the reasons for his actions are assumed to be a psychological problem or sickness. I found this to be striking because of how unreasonable it is to assume that a person’s race would be a reason they commit a crime. Yet it is something I see in the media and never before thought to question. I think this is an example of what Stuart Hall would define as inferential racism because this practice is unquestioned, and these statements are made without even being aware of the racism underlying these assumptions. Further I believe that this is an example of inferential racism because Schwyzer indicated that when men of color murder it is natural for the first thought to be that it may partially relate to their race, this furthers the ideology that “blacks are the source of the problem”

Schwyzer makes an argument throughout the article that the white middle-class male is accustomed to being welcomed and heard in all public spaces. He asserts that when this innate sense of entitlement gets frustrated it is these men that are the most likely to react with violence, and to act in public spaces because they see these spaces as their own. I disagree with Schwyzer’s view in this case because while I think that it is very possible for middle to upper class white men to have a sense of entitlement in public spaces, I cannot see how simply this sense of entitlement can make them so much more likely to react with such high levels of violence. Rather, I think that regardless of race or socio-economic background mental illness must be at the core of any mass murder.  However I do agree that it is possible that due to their comfort level and confidence in public spaces white, privileged men may be more likely to choose a public space as the setting for their acts of violence, yet they are no more likely to commit an act than members of any other race or ethnicity.

This article deals with many ideologies concerning race, and socioeconomic standing; it exemplifies how the media can be used as a powerful source of racial ideologies through the ways in which news events are related to the general public. Overall while I think that while Hugo Schwyzer makes some valid arguments, he is unjustified in his assumptions that a heightened sense of entitlement is responsible for the majority of mass murderers being privliged white men.  I think it takes a lot more than confidence and comfort in public to motivate any man to commit such extreme acts of violence.


One thought on “Reaction to “Why Most Mass Murders are Privileged White Men” by Hugo Schwyzer

  1. I also thought that Schwyzer’s article proposed an interesting point on how white, middle-class men were more likely to shoot in public places. I think it is important that you mentioned Schwyzer pointing out that when a man of color commits a crime, it is common to connect his actions with the race or religion aspect. This way of thinking is naturalized due to the media representations, such as seen through different crime TV shows such as COPS or CSI. I completely agree with you how it relates to what Stuart referred in his article as “inferential racism” because it is embedded in to the way underclass non-white minorities are portrayed as criminals in the reality TV shows, however, most of the time we don’t pay attention to it. I agree with you that it is ridiculous how one can accuse another person’s race for the crime committed; it makes you wonder how prevalent racism is in our world today. Since Schwyzer openly talks about the commonality for minorities or blacks to be the criminals, it does refer back to the whole dominant ideology of how “blacks are the source of the problem.” Just like you, I also disagree on how Schwyzer blames the violence committed by white middle-class males as simply frustration; I believe it is a way bigger issue than that. In my blog, I discussed how the main reason why people commit such an act is because of his or her psychological problems, rather than the issue with race or class.
    You brought up a good point about how white privileged men might feel more confident committing a crime in public because they are so used to being treated with ultimate respect, in a sense, they are asserting that dominance. Overall, I agree with you how Schwyzer’s argument is invalid and unjustified because white privileged males are just as likely to commit such an act as any other member of other races—such as the Virginia Tech shooting case by a Korean male. As you mentioned, comitting a crime in public is really extreme and it definitely takes more than confidence, therefore, it doesn’t quite correlate with the assertion of being just white, middle-class or privileged. I believe that media does play into effect with influencing one’s ideologies, because of Stuart Hall’s reading, it allowed me to digest Schwyzer’s article carefully and nitpick the “inferential racism” included in the reading.

    Nice blog :)

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