Rutgers Professor: Killing Spree Result of White Privilege

"Can I go ahead and scream yet? It's time for America to admit what it's long resisted: white male privilege kills." contributing writer Brittney Cooper, who also teaches Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, has figured out what caused Elliot Rodger to go on his rampage: white privilege. Absent from the article is any acknowledgment that the shooter was half-Asian.


“Welp. Another young white guy has decided that his disillusionment with his life should become somebody else’s problem,” she begins. “How many times must troubled young white men engage in these terroristic acts that make public space unsafe for everyone before we admit that white male privilege kills?”

She then states,  “Black men are not rolling onto college campuses and into movie theaters on a regular basis to shoot large amounts of people. Usually, the young men who do that are white, male, heterosexual, and middle-class.”

Cooper offers an analysis of Rodger’s video and 140-page note and says that his behavior is definitively attributed to white privilege:

And make no mistake: from my standpoint as an arm chair therapist — having read transcripts of Rodger’s videos —  his anger is about his failure to be able to access all the markers of white male heterosexual middle class privilege. He goes on and on about his status as a virgin, his inability to find a date since middle school, his anger and resentment about being rejected by blonde, sorority women. In fact, he claims he will “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see.” As Jessica Valenti so thoroughly demonstrates: “misogyny kills.” I am struck by the extent to which Rodger believed he was entitled to have what he deemed the prettiest girls, he was entitled to women’s bodies, and when society denied him these “entitlements” he thought it should become the public’s problem. He thought that his happiness was worth the slaughter of multiple people.

As noted by the Daily Caller, there are several examples that dispel Cooper's narrative that mass shootings are done exclusively by white men:

Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 in last year’s Navy Yard shootings in Washington, D.C., was black.

And the largest university campus mass murder in U.S. history was carried out by Seung-Hi Cho, who was Asian. He killed 32 at Virginia Tech University in 2007.

In 2004, Chai Vang, an immigrant from Laos, killed six hunters in the woods of Wisconsin.

Nidal Hasan, who murdered 13 at Fort Hood in 2009, was Palestinian.

Cooper then says that Rodger's grievances were a result of a “sense of heterosexual white male entitlement to a world that grants all one’s wishes, and this destructive murderous anger that attends the ostensible denial of these wishes, is at the emotional core of white supremacy."

Unsurprisingly, she proceeds to launch into an attack on society, claiming it is slanted toward white men and their sexual desires:

Elliot Rodger was a late bloomer, which while socially inconvenient and embarrassing, is neither uncommon nor a problem. But because we don’t have a fundamentally honest societal conversation happening about white male privilege, rooted as it is in sexism and racism, we can’t even observe one of the most basic truths here: what Rodger’s perceived as a denial was at the very worst a delay. Our society is fundamentally premised on making sure that straight, middle-class (upper class in Rodger’s case) white men have access to power, money, and women.

She attributes concerns with the Obama administration to the color of the president's skin:

In this regard, the rage at the core of Rodger’s horrific acts is not unlike the kind of middle class, heterosexual, white male rage that drives much of social policy in this country. In the era of Barack Obama, we have endured a mass temper tantrum from white men that includes a mind-boggling war on women, with an unprecedented rollback of the gains of the women’s rights movement, and an attempt to decimate whole communities of color, which are disproportionately poor, through school privatization, mass incarceration (which began long before the Obama era) and the gutting of the social safety net.

Cooper is quick to clarify that she is “not calling these guys mass murderers. Of that I want to be clear” but that we “cannot understand Elliot Rodger’s clear mental health issues and view of himself as the supremely forsaken victim here outside a context of racism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.”

“I’m also saying that white male privilege might be considered a mental health issue, because it allows these dudes to move through the world believing that their happiness, pleasure, and well-being, matters more than the death and suffering of others,” she wrote.

She then claims that the public does not sufficiently label the monsters who go on rampages:

 Every few years, the American public has to watch in horror as some white kid goes on a rampage, killing everything from babies to old people. Yet, neither the press nor the law will understand such perpetrators as monsters or terrorists. Few will have a conversation about white male pathology and the ways that systems of whiteness and patriarchy continue to produce white men who think like this.

After observing that the tragedy could have been prevented, Cooper attributes the police department's inaction to the fact that Rodger was white:

Can I go ahead and scream yet? A black or brown man would have been violently hauled into a jail and locked up at the first sign of such machinations. His property rights would have been thoroughly violated, and no matter how “polite” and “courteous” he might have been with officers, no reports would have reflected such language.

These coded terms mean that these officers were incapable of seeing this clearly troubled young white man as a threat. How many mass killings must it take to recognize that white male entitlement is potentially deadly? How many Youtube videos must one post outlining an attempt to do harm before it is taken seriously?

As yet another community attempts to make sense of this tragedy, to put itself back together again after this needless, senseless path of destruction that Elliot Rodger has wrought, I’m reminded of something my dad says: “these are funerals we didn’t have to have.” But as long as America refuses to deal with its white male privilege problem we will continue to have them.