Salon.com columnist and radio talk show host David Sirota dared to provoke the conservative media on Sunday by highlighting the privileged place white men hold in America.
The media firestorm began after Sirota appeared on MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” where he discussed policy recommendations following the Sandy Hook mass shooting. Sirota emphasized that the perpetrators of most mass shootings are white men, yet Americans are “not allowed” to racially profile them as such.
Sirota’s point was that, in any other violent circumstance involving an ethnicity other than white, such as Sept. 11, racial profiling occurs. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Muslims and Sikhs (who are not affiliated with Islam, but do look like Muslims) faced a barrage of hate crimes and racial profiling directed toward their groups. Gang violence, too, is racially profiled in regards to how the media emphasizes race in gang-related crimes (black, Latino).
Countless academic studies have looked at how race is portrayed in American media in the aftermath of serious crimes and have found that a perpetrator’s race is only mentioned if he (or she) is non-white. Following Columbine, Aurora, Colo., and Sandy Hook, the white shooters were not identified as such. Yet, following Virginia Tech and Sept. 11, the race of those responsible was highlighted.
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The conservative media, however, pounced on Sirota for calling out a fact that clearly exists. The Daily Caller, Fox News, Breitbart, and Glenn Beck’s the Blaze all pulled the race card on Sirota, arguing that he was the one unnecessarily injecting race into the post-Sandy Hook discussion. Yet, it is the outrage over Sirota’s comment that is now so clearly demonstrating his point.