This Week in Whitemansplaining: Gun-Fetish Fatalism and Thinly Veiled Racism

This week, in the U.S. where the female nipple is more dangerous than a gun, Jay Ambrose assures us that gun violence, including mass shootings at a daily pace, cannot be curbed by laws restricting gun ownership because Russia and single-parent families.

Ambrose throws up his hands at trying gun laws—”probably futile”—because, you know, Russia. And then the real kicker:

But President Barack Obama himself has underlined the single-parent linkage with crime, and some of the most prestigious think tanks in the land — conservative, liberal and in between — have produced impressive analytical and statistical backing for the proposition.

Along with his gun-fetish fatalism (“the charade of more gun control”), Ambrose offers thinly veiled racism with “single-parent families” (a corrosive trigger similar to Reagan’s “welfare queen”) and “gang shooters” (right in their with “thug” and “black-on-black crime” as the sort of racism allowed in polite company).

By the end of his whitemansplaining, Ambrose characterizes “mass shootings” as “a tiny percentage of all the killings,” which he again claims are more a result of single-parent families than gun-lust in the U.S.

But the key in the final paragraph is his shout out to “decent citizens defending themselves with guns,” and we should ask who those people look like.

This callous and hollow commentary comes just after I have read and responded to 24 first-year writing students’ essays; that assignment required them to write a public piece in an on-line format—using hyperlinks for support and images/video to augment their exposition or argument.

If I were to toss Ambrose’s piece into the pile, I would be forced to ask why he cherry-picked Russia—ignoring the powerful and persuasive evidence from European and Scandinavian countries with strong gun restrictions and incredibly rare mass shootings.

I also would ask why, if his evidence is so compelling, he fails to offer any hyperlinks to all that evidence—depending instead on shallow and coded rhetoric (the last refuge of the incompetent and deceptive).

With just a small amount of effort, Ambrose—if he were sincere—could point to the Department of Justice data that show crime and gun violence are extremely complicated topics but also refute the racist implications of his piece: all violent crime is almost entirely within race (“84% of white victims were killed by whites” and “93% of black victims were killed by blacks”; see page 13).

A little more research and Ambrose would find that single-parent families are also a very complicated part of the U.S.; notable is that despite popular assumptions whites are the largest number (9,289,000 compared to 6,427,000/ black and 7,044,000/ Hispanic/ Latino).

Ambrose’s entire pitch depends on making sweeping and unsupportable claims that seem true to the general public; his assertions and the ugly implications (which he either does with intent or is so privileged he cannot see his own racism) are the very worst of what counts as public commentary in the U.S.

While we must not make the same errors in logic and rhetoric that Ambrose does, it seems far more credible to state that gun-fetish fatalism and racism are greater causes of our violent nation than single-parent families.

Once again, Ambrose and his ilk need to stop their whitemansplaining and take a long hard look in the mirror.

One comment

  1. liberalteacher

    I tutor a college student and last year we dealt with this topic. The articles we read, and sorry I am not going to cite them right now (out of laziness), stated several factors–a culture which teaches that violence is not a way to solve problems and a social democratic society in which most citizens feel a part of (and does not breed alienation). The real question our right wing friends will never ask is why does this American society breed violence and alienation that drive people to use guns to deal with real or “imagined” grievances.

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