It never fails. There’s always plenty of doubt and caution before labeling a mass killing by a White suspect as terrorism. White privilege immediately kicks in: the pattern is to humanize the shooter and blame their lone wolf attack on mental illness.
That’s true in the latest case. The police identified 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley as the man who gunned down worshippers on Sunday morning at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas—killing at least 26 people and wounding others. It’s the worst mass shooting in Texas history.
President Donald Trump, who is usually quick to identify mass shootings as acts of terrorism, avoided the label this time.
CNN reported that Trump said on Monday that Kelley has a “mental health problem,” describing him as “a very deranged individual.”
Trump came into office promising to keep the nation safe from terrorist. He looked outside the borders and saw threats from majority Muslim countries and “bad hombres” sneaking into to the country.
Yet, as the New York Times reported, White supremacists and other right-wing radicals have killed far more Americans since 9/11 than Islamic extremist have.
But almost pathological excuses for White terrorism keeps coming. After the Las Vegas mass shooting—one of the deadliest in U.S. history with a death toll of 58—many are still reluctant to label the shooter a terrorist. Instead, Stephen Paddock has been humanized through stories about his love of country music and high-stakes gambling. There’s almost a sense of wanting to somehow empathize with the killer–White privilege.