Whenever there’s a mass shooting in the US we begin to debate as a society what the killer’s motivations could have been. If he is brown or black there’s a high chance that the tabloid press will cry “terrorist”. Donald Trump will begin Tweeting rabidly about how we should close US borders to all (read: black or brown) immigrants. “The wall, the wall!”, his supporters will cry. Breitbert will release an article trying to convince us that every Muslim is a terrorist plotting to kill us all. And a member of Ukip will be forced to issue an apology after making yet another “mistake” like retweeting “If you want a Jihadi for a neighbour, vote Labour”. For the record I come from a family of Muslim immigrants, and I can confirm that none of us are about to run off and join Isis (why do I even have to reassure people of that?)
If the shooter is white, however, it will be a different story – poor, lonely, teased American guy Tom had a mental health problem. He always got good grades in school and, although he was quiet, nobody could have possibly imagined him doing such a thing, including his mum, partner, brother, uncle, aunt, 12th cousin, nursery teacher, baby sitter, the guy who bagged his groceries in Walmart, the woman who sat in one lecture with him for a single term when he was at university, and the family who lived six streets away from him when he was in primary school. Because, let’s be honest, every one of these people and more will be interviewed to investigate “what went wrong” with this unfortunate, mentally ill, all-American, middle class, white school boy.
Once again, white killers will be humanised and black or brown killers will be dehumanised.