He couldn’t get a date.
Or he hated Black folks.
Or he was bullied in class.
If any of that sounds acquainted, it ought to. Each time there’s a mass taking pictures on this nation — which, as a purposeful matter, just about means day by day — these are the sorts of explanations routinely supplied within the aftermath. A easy journey to the shop, seeing a film, going to high school — or, as was the case final week in Highland Park, north of Chicago, going to a parade — results in carnage and reporters dutifully waylay the shooter’s mother and father, lecturers and mates to ask how this might have occurred. And the portrait emerges.
He hated Jews.
Or he was depressed.
Or he was a loner.
However curiously sufficient, nobody ever appears to think about, a lot much less interrogate, the neon thread woven via all of it. Which means that pronoun, “he.” All the time, “he.” We take it without any consideration. It hardly even registers.
However perhaps it ought to.
In a government-funded research of 172 mass shootings since 1966 — outlined as a taking pictures in a public place the place 4 or extra folks have been killed — The Violence Venture, a nonpartisan and nonprofit anti-violence assume tank, discovered that simply 4 of the shooters have been feminine. That’s slightly greater than 2%.
So, whereas we debate mass shootings as a bigotry downside, a psychological well being downside, an entry to weapons downside — and make no mistake, we should always — it appears previous time we additionally started debating it as a males downside. Particularly because the numbers counsel it’s extra a males downside than every other sort. That we seldom broach it as such speaks to the fish-don’t-know-they’re-wet myopia of most of these framing the dialogue. Which means, after all: males themselves.
When you’re thought of the implicit norm, self-reflection doesn’t come naturally. However self-reflection is lengthy overdue. And right here, a riposte from the outdated sitcom “Residing Single” suggests itself.
Synclaire asks, “Did you ever cease to consider what the world can be like with out males?”
Khadijah replies: “A bunch of fats, completely satisfied girls and no crime!”
It’s, as they are saying, humorous as a result of it’s true. And painful for a similar purpose.
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That mentioned, it’s inadequate merely to indict males. Different nations have males — and, for that matter, non-public gun possession. But they don’t have the random gun violence this nation does.
Which suggests the query shouldn’t be “What’s flawed with males?” however “What’s flawed with American males?” What’s it in our tradition, within the issues we train them, in the best way we socialize them, that so typically leaves boys and males with this grotesque sense of entitlement, this potential to resolve that as a result of they’re having a foul day, as a result of they received their emotions damage, as a result of life hasn’t gone as they wished, they’ve a proper to whip out a gun and make harmless strangers pay?
Everybody has dangerous days. Everybody will get their emotions damage. Everybody grapples with life not going in accordance with plan. Solely American males appear to routinely take this as an excuse to shoot up church buildings and faculties.
After which, we get ideas and prayers, candlelight vigils and indicators proclaiming “_________ Robust” whereas media probe for why this horrible factor occurred — and retains taking place. But, repeatedly, we run proper previous essentially the most promising line of inquiry there’s. Sure, it’s necessary to know that he hated Asians. Or he wished revenge. Or he received fired.
However it’s additionally necessary to consider that “he” is at all times “he.”
It’s time we requested ourselves why.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. E mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.