Black Thugs, Muslim terrorists and disturbed white men.

Many years ago, when I first studied sociology, it was considered almost axiomatic, that deviance in men was viewed as 'bad' and deviance in women was 'mad'. And feminist writers made much of this as based on gender discrimination. And frankly without getting into an academic polemic with references and the like: I think this was, and to a great extent still is true.

The recent shooting and murder of 9 people at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, seems to be highlighting a similar, though distinct phenomena.

Itso appropriate at this point to offer sympathy and condolences to family and friends of those who died in this incident.

The Right wing media, particularly the by now infamous Fox News (Who not that long ago won a 'wrongful dismissal' case purely on the grounds that a news broadcaster doesn't have to report the truth?) Seems to have immediately begun promoting the idea the Shooter (who's name is famous enough already) had a 'troubled background'.

This links to another related phenomena, again often offered by Fox News, Black shooters are 'thugs' Muslim shooters are 'Terrorists' and White shooters are 'lone wolves'.

Now, there are going to be some differences between the motivations of members of different social groups, clearly 'radical islam' motivates some Muslims to behave dreadfully; there is as far as I understand it still vast disadvantages for Black youth in the US (and elsewhere) which could push them towards crime; and for many White youth raised in reactionary settings, a desire to return to 'the good old days'.

Yet the whole 'modus operandi' of Al Quaida was for individuals (lone wolves) to perform their own martyrdom. Very often a 'gang' (black or otherwise) will attempt to use terror to achieve their aims. (Extortion/protection rackets etc.) And racist gromps will quite happily use crime to finance it's 'supremacist'aims.

So whilst there are some distinctions we might make, in the end all these groups use terror and crime to further their ends, and often the ones acting all this out, could be considered 'lone wolves'.

So why the 'distinctions'? (And to be fair it's not just Fox.)

I am not claiming to be able to answer this: but I do have some thoughts.

I wonder about simple habit, based on history, in some respects. The 'policing' of the police acted out by the 'Black Panthers', and the subversion of that group by the FBI under COINTELPRO, led to an impression of 'armed black gangs' roaming the streets, and both public perception and the behaviour of gang members has come to reflect this stereotype. So not only are individuals characterised in that way, they come to think of themselves in those terms too.

The 'Terrorist' label seems less problematic, though of course as Chomsky would note, "it's 'terrorism when they do it, but justified military intervention when we do it."

But I am very interested in why white supremacists, so often get the label 'lone wolf'. This would seem to me to be the perfect cover for an organisation that wants to use terror to intimidate people. If the 'actor' is alone, none of his fellow 'conspirators' face any difficult questions, and can melt into the woodwork unnoticed. It also allows individuals to be 'nudged' towards acts, by those who want to give the impression their hands are clean, possibly even to themselves.

Now: the above are thoughts, and to some extent speculation, and are not offered as any 'excuse' for what I think should be called 'terrorism'. And all that act in such ways should be incacreated for life, under intense study, so we can work out what causes people to behave in such ways and prevent such things happening as often as we can. I am not much interested in punishment, and certainly not revenge,  I am more interested in saving lives.

Of course there are issues with American gun laws, and I wonder does the need for a 'well ordered militia,' really cover putting guns in the hands of people, with mental health difficulties, or a history of violence, or known 'terrorist', or 'criminal' activity? Or for that matter allow guns to be stored insecurely?

Ultimately I am left with the impression that white supremacist groups in the US are getting a free pass.

Fox News also seems to be pushing an agenda that at this was an act attacking religion, I think this is entirely spurious, and seems to be an attempt to somehow make irreligion responsible for terror acted out, by individuals for quite different motives.

And that leads me to say, whatever the socio-economic-political motives, individuals are responsible for their acts. Period.

Finally: I am not going to give the shooters name any more of the publicity he clearly wants, rather I am going to end with the names of the people who died at his hands. Mostly because in such incidents I always feel, these are the names that are forgotten.

Clementa Pinckne

Cynthia Hurd

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Tywanza Sanders

Ethel Lance

Susie Jackson

DePayne Middleton Doctor

Mira Thompson

Daniel Simmons Sr

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