09 August 2012

Profile Me: The Confederate Flag, Shame, and White Male Terror

Profile Me: The Confederate Flag, Shame, and White Male Terror, by Donovan Schaefer (Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 7 August 2012) 

In spring of 2011, Asra Nomani suggested that ethnic profiling of Muslim Americans was a legal and moral imperative given her community’s failure to adequately police itself. A year later, she stepped forward and called for expanded surveillance inside her own community. In the same spirit of enlightened self-critique, let me make a similar call: it is time for racial profiling of white men.

This call is half flippant–a sardonic parody of the kneejerk self-righteousness of Islamophobic discourse–and half serious critique of the disturbed crossing point between whiteness and masculinity in the US.White men, such as myself, have proven ourselves to be one of the most dangerous groups in the country. We are the most likely demographic to be responsible for killing sprees, leading dangerous cults, or plotting acts of violent treason–what we might call White Male Terror. At the same time, white men show a sneering disregard for other groups that are not us, insisting on lax gun laws that lead to spillover violence in Latin America, rejecting the “redistribution of wealth” after generations of benefiting from a rigged economic system, and jealously preserving the legal institution of male privilege by obstructing a constitutional amendment that would make women equal in the eyes of the law. White men have proven themselves unwilling to integrate into American society–even after 500 years of residency. White men cultivate insular subcultures, breeding grounds for the white male’s predominant currency: a sense of invincibility. And it is when this armor of invulnerability is winched apart–as it always will be–that WMT seeps out into the open.

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