Washington Post – October 10, 2017
Last week, I sent a string of relatively uncontroversial tweets in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre, in which I sought to answer a question about mass shootings in the United States: Why are these crimes almost always carried out by white men? “It’s the white supremacist patriarchy, stupid,” I tweeted, before then diagnosing a sense of double entitlement — as white people and as men — that, when frustrated, can occasionally lead to violent consequences.
My argument was not new, but rather reflects decades of research on how race and gender function in our society. To be both white and male is to be subject to a potent cocktail of entitlement to economic and political power, and to dominate nonwhite and female bodies. When that entitlement is frustrated, it can lead to what the criminologist Mike King calls “aggrieved whiteness,” an ambient furor based on the idea that white Americans have become oppressed victims of politically correct multiculturalism.
In my view as a researcher and professor of politics, these tweets were neither provocative in tone nor controversial in content. Rather, the insight they provided felt all the more pressing now that President Trump has brought this aggrieved whiteness into daily headlines. As a scholar and teacher, giving context and depth to contemporary debates is an important part of what I do, and it’s a calling I take seriously. But more and more, professors like me are being targeted by a coordinated right-wing campaign to undermine our academic freedom — one that relies on misrepresentation and sometimes outright lying, and often puts us and our students in danger.