Those Worried About the Bomber’s Skin Color Need Help


David Sirota

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Boston this week, there are plenty of things that Americans are worrying about. They’re worrying about the surviving victims who are suffering terribly from life-changing injuries, and those who are clinging to life. They’re worrying about the families of the victims, and the pain they’re going through right now. They’re worrying about the possibility of follow-up attacks and whether or not they’re safe when they attend public events. They’re worrying about the ability of our law-enforcement agencies to find the person or persons responsible and stop them before they can hurt anyone else.

Certain people, however, are worried about something quite a bit different – something that doesn’t particularly make sense at a time when our nation is reeling from an unspeakable act of violence. They’re worried about what color the bomber’s skin is.

David Sirota of Salon is one of those people. He wrote a column soon after the bombing that’s been getting a lot of attention, primarily for its mind-numbing headline: “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.”

The average person would probably read that headline and ask themselves why anyone would ‘hope’ for such a thing. They’d probably also wonder why one race would be preferable to another in defining a monster who is responsible for the death and suffering of many innocent victims.

For those of us paying close attention to the ideological clashes that go on in our country every day, however, Sirota’s viewpoint actually isn’t all that surprising. In fact, it’s pretty darned predictable. He’s a very liberal guy who writes for a very liberal publication. And like some on the far-left, he fears that if someone from an ethnic minority commits the kind of act we saw in Boston, our fundamentally racist society will collectively target the entire ethnicity as being responsible for the atrocity.

Because, after all, that’s what we do in modern-day America… Right? Remember how we indiscriminately chased down Muslim-looking people after 9/11 and held them responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 victims? Yeah, I don’t remember that either.

Still, Sirota is very concerned about this. So much so that he hopes that the bomber is a white guy, because white guys have what Sirota calls “white male privilege”. This means that other white guys won’t be held responsible for the acts committed by one white guy.

I know this sounds a little confusing, but believe me, it makes sense to a certain type of person.

Others in the media have expressed similar concerns in the past, including Newsweek’s Evan Thomas. When Nidal Malik Hasan was identified as the shooter in the Fort Hood massacre back in 2009, Thomas expressed dismay in the revelation of Hasan’s ethnicity.

“I cringe that he’s a Muslim,” said Thomas. “I mean, because it inflames all the fears. I think he’s probably just a nut case. But with that label attached to him, it will get the right wing going and it just — I mean these things are tragic, but that makes it much worse.”

Ah yes, the obligatory right wing – those knuckle-dragging morons who are completely incapable of distinguishing between a murderous terrorist and those who merely share a common ethnicity with him. Oh brother.

While the ethnic-blame narrative is largely based on a straw-man argument, there’s something deeper going on here. People hoping (whether they admit it or not) that the Boston bomber is white are looking at this horrific event through a prism of white guilt instead of through a prism of morality. They’re prioritizing social justice over actual justice. They’re seemingly more interested in potential victims (brought on by what they view as a culturally-insensitive society) than they are in the actual victims of a heinous bombing.

Of course, people like David Sirota can’t offer up any compelling evidence to warrant their concerns. That doesn’t stop them, however, from believing they are the enlightened ones for presuming that the prejudices of Americans less evolved than themselves will inevitability lead to the assignment of blame to an ethnic collective, rather than to an individual and a network of that individual’s associates.

I find it fascinating that someone who fancies himself as an intellectual, as Sirota clearly does, doesn’t see the irony of it all. He clearly views America as still being tainted with strong ethnic bigotry, but he doesn’t realize that in preferring a terrorist who has “white male privilege” he has adopted a mindset pulled directly from our country’s dark racial past.

American history is riddled with examples of people who convinced themselves that a perpetrator needed to be of a certain race in the interest of preserving cultural stability. Is that really a legacy that some liberals want to associate themselves with now?

Not everything has to be part of some social narrative. Rather than hoping for the bomber to meet a certain profile, we should all be investing our hopes in his or her capture.