The Media Would Rather Talk About Race Than Stop Mass Shootings or Crime | Opinion

Every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S., partisans on both sides hold their collective breath waiting for the perpetrator to be identified in order to see whose worldview will be vindicated. The left gets excited about murders involving police officers shooting unarmed black people, as well as those perpetrated by white supremacists or believers in QAnon; the right highlights Muslim terrorists and Antifa. Yet the number of killings in 2020 that can be attributed to all of these causes put together is in the dozens, representing a tiny fraction of the over 20,000 murders that took place in the United States.

Even for America, a country whose murder rate is an outlier among developed nations, this number was the highest in over two decades. Liberals tend to blame the rise on the widespread availability of guns or COVID-induced poverty, while conservatives point to factors such as the breakdown of the family, or police being afraid to do their jobs amid criticism from Black Lives Matter.

This is a debate worth having. Unfortunately, both sides are more interested in finding the small minority of murders that can be traced to a disfavored racial group or the ideology of the other side, a psychodrama that was yet again on full display on social media this week.

On Monday, 10 people were killed by a crazed gunman at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. An image of the shooter emerged on social media showing what looked like a hunched white man with a black beard. The reaction on Twitter was swift: "Extremely tired of people's lives depending on whether a white man with an AR-15 is having a good day or not" was one typical tweet, written by an editor at Deadspin, which quickly racked up 100,000 likes. "It's always an angry white man. always," someone else replied, one of tens of tweets from blue checkmarks making this assumption.

THREAD: Here are all the idiotic leftists who immediately jumped to politicize the tragic Boulder shooting to push their narrative, only for it all to fall apart when it turns out the shooter is muslim...

Deadspin Editor:

— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 23, 2021

The thing is, this time, it wasn't a white man. Or at least, it wasn't someone who the left would ordinarily consider white. The shooter, a man named Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is a Syrian immigrant. But instead of correcting the error, many doubled down. "Syrians in America are legally, politically & socially WHITE," read one such attempt to save face.

In a sense, the point is correct: People from the Middle East are technically white, according the U.S. Census. And yet, how these labels are applied is often a question of politics. When The New York Times was counting how many white people there were in government last year, they classified Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian America, as a person of color, while counting Republicans like Chris Sununu—Lebanese via El Salvador—and Alex Azar—also Lebanese—as white.

This is something politicians engage in, too. While the bizarre controversy over the Boulder shooter was unfolding on Twitter, in the halls of Congress, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth announced that she would no longer be voting for any "non-diversity nominees" (presumably meaning white people, or white men) until a member of the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community was nominated to a cabinet post. She was later seconded by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono.

Senator Duckworth, who is half-Thai, would it seems be happy with a Samoan or Mongolian appointee, but not an Iraqi or Ukrainian one.

Boulder shooting
Healthcare workers walk out of a King Sooper's Grocery store after a gunman opened fire on March 22, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. Chet Strange/Getty Images

But rather than a moral distinction, this is just more politics. The very concept of "AAPI" was invented by the Office of Management and Budget under the Nixon Administration in 1977. After lobbying by various ethnic groups seeking to be included in the AAPI category for the purposes of qualifying for Small Business Administration loans and other benefits, the government ultimately drew the line between "Caucasian" and "AAPI" at the Afghan-Pakistan border, thus making Syrian mass shooters white (but Muslim!) while Filipinos attacked in inner cities are part of a broader trend of anti-Asian violence.

You don't fix the problem of skyrocketing crime and mass murder this way.

It would be nice to live in a country in which we had good faith discussions about our absurdly high crime rate, why is it increasing, and what to about it. Unfortunately, we're stuck with a media and activist class that needs to fit everything into a race-based narrative, with preassigned heroes and villains, even when the "racial" categories have been invented out of thin air by government bureaucracy.

Of course, it's not just liberals. Conservatives, who tend to tell pollsters that they feel that discrimination against whites is a problem but whose leaders won't say it, play the same game of anecdote-driven analysis, arguing that what just happened was an isolated incident when liberal prejudices are confirmed, and gloating when they are not, all the while exaggerating threats from the groups they happen not to like.

Unfortunately, there is little interest in the United States for serious, data-driven analysis of crime, which has for over half a century now made the U.S. by far the most dangerous country in the West, thanks to violence overwhelmingly concentrated in our inner cities.

After a year in which we saw a historical increase in murder, the media has shown amazingly little interest in this trend compared to the relatively few crimes they can blame on their preferred targets: white men, the police, and conservatives.

Narrative increasingly dominates reality in our politics. Yet reality still exists for the millions of Americans who are victimized by the types of crime the chattering class couldn't care less about, and for our great cities that are increasingly falling apart.

"If it bleeds, it leads" was a maxim that was once used to criticize a press that would over-sensationalize the issues of the day. But to go back to such a state of affairs would be an improvement over the agenda-driven identity-based coverage that has taken over and is ripping this country apart. The victims of these horrific crimes would thank us.

Richard Hanania is the president of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology and a Research Fellow at Defense Priorities (Twitter: @RichardHanania)

The views in this article are the writer's own.