Monday night, CNN Anchor Don Lemon stated on CNN’s Cuomo Primetime that white men are “the biggest terror threat in this country,” alluding to that fact that in the span of one week, white men have been the culprits behind three separate incidents: 1) killing two Black people outside of a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown Kentucky, 2) sending 13 potentially explosive devices to prominent Democratic leaders, including Former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Maxine Waters and 3) a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 people were killed.
And while these cases are under investigation, they certainly aren’t enough to claim that white men are currently ranked number one in the United States for domestic terrorism. So after receiving considerable backlash, Lemon’s Wednesday night show reiterates his stance and cites a recent Government Accountability Office report which details that since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, far-right, violent extremists have killed 106 people in 62 attacks within US borders. Comparably, radical Islamist violent extremists have killed 119 people in 23 attacks.
Among numerous other studies, Lemon also referenced a 2017 report from the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal that found from 2008 to 2016, there were almost twice as many terrorist incidents that occured on US territory at the hands of right-wing extremists— many of whom are white— than by Islamist extremists.
Clearly, the data speaks for itself: white men are, in fact, right up there with the leading terrorists in the country. However, CNN has yet to comment on Lemon’s remarks.
And as important as addressing and fighting terrorism is, the image of White Maleness is equally as deadly for every other race and gender. White Maleness is the matrix of power and privilege that has been historically associated with white men as being the most dominant person in terms of everyday life, hiring/firing practices, pay gaps, educational achievements gaps, banking and housing practices, credibility, relations with law enforcement, etc. There isn’t one “white man” in particular, or one “group of white men” that compose White Maleness. Rather, it’s a constructed image over the past 500 years that has tendencies of racism, sexism, classism and asserting ideologies onto others in a way that disproportionately affects anyone outside of the “white male” bubble.
For example, two years ago, the case of Brock Turner, convicted felon on 3 counts of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, was sentenced to 6 months of jail time. And the majority of the headlines read, “All American swimmer found guilty of sexually assaulting unconscious woman on campus,” or, “Stanford swimmer’s dad argues 6-month sentence is too steep for ‘20 minutes of action.’ Magically, the emphasis was placed on his athletic achievements at a top-tier university as credibility for why his jail sentence was unreasonable.
I present White Maleness working at it’s finest.
During the 2016 Presidential Campaign and the subsequent victory of the current oval office holder, White Maleness can summarize all of the hate, bigotry, supremacy, and lack of remorse this presidency has. It’s two fold: Some argue that 45’s win is in response to his support base having to grapple with Former President Barack Obama for 8 years prior. The eloquent and educated Black president punctured a nerve by winning. After his final term ended, the country (really the electoral college, but that’s another debate) finally vomited by electing a white supremacist and here we are sliding through the muck of it. And on the other side of the timeline, some contend that 45’s better than having a woman, hinting at the qualified Hillary Clinton, whose experience and reputation of a New York Senator for 8 years and being the Secretary of the United States during the first Obama term proceeds her. And this is all, of course, after being First Lady of the United States for 8 years during the Clinton administration. Regardless of her positions on any given issue, she had, and still has, more experience than a multi-bankrupted business owner who won by inciting fear.
Here lies the bafflement that White Maleness creates and effortlessly facilitates: Race is alienated; in this case Blackness. And gender is antagonized; in this case women. Only for these identities to be the very thing attacked by White Maleness. The outcome of Clinton losing has created a state of emergency in the United States regarding the unarmed shooting of Black men by law enforcement, the culture of sexual assault and survivors, accountability for this administration and race relations more generally.
Case and point: White Maleness is the only reason why Florida and Georgia’s Gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp respectively are even being considered. They, unashamed, thanks to the president and face of their political party, have built platforms attacking undocumented immigrants with a ridiculous attachment to the right to bear arms and employ words and practices that point to white supremacists.
It’s similar to having double vision where you whack a mole and more White Maleness appears to the point where it is literally dangerous for all parties involved. Yet, folks still get away with it… if only those darn kids were present.
There’s also the fact that today’s news room are still majority white men who have never had to fight for citizenship, visas, the ability to attend a certain school or live in a upper-echelon neighborhood.
White men simply wrote the constitution to benefit themselves and left the rest of us out here high and dry. (Literally. Black people were hung trying to vote and integrate schools.)
So yes, Don Lemon was right: White men are the biggest terror threat in the supposed land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Putting the data of documented terrorist attacks aside, it’s clear that White Maleness is domestic terrorism as well with micro effects that stack up to the national level. Its mechanism is dedicated to controlling every system known to man and categorically remaining superior.
As cynical as this sentiment mat be, there is a light at the end of the oppression tunnel: Malcolm X once said, “If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from the healing of the wound that made the blow. They haven’t begun to pull the knife out… They won’t even admit the knife is there.”
Now that we’ve admitted White Maleness, it’s time to interrogate all of its beneficiaries and wounds and ways to mend.