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CNN’s Don Lemon: ‘Should white men be profiled?’

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Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Throughout the day on Saturday, CNN teased an upcoming segment pertaining to the recent Newtown, Conn. tragedy where the premise was “Should white men be profiled?” The discussion, which aired on “CNN Newsroom” hosted by Don Lemon, was based on a Salon.com column by David Sirota published just days after the Newtown shooting.  Sirota explained his reasoning and suggested there was a double standard.

“I think we should ask the question, ‘Why is America, 30 percent white guys and 70 percent of the shootings in the last many decades have been at the hands of white guys?’” Sirota said. “I’m not saying we should racially profile white guys, but I do think it’s interesting to note that had the shooters, had 70 percent of mass shooters been, let’s say, Arabs or African-American men, I think the conversation right now would be a very different conversation where we’d be talking — we’d be having a much less nuanced, a much uglier conversation.”

“I think we need to be asking the question about why the composite is so similar?” he continued. “Why are 70 percent of these mass shootings at the hands of white men? Not to say they should be racially profiled, but to ask the question ‘Why is the composite so similar’? Let’s explore that. Let’s ask that question because it’s an important question in light of a political climate right now where there’s a lot of what I’ve called ‘the white victimization narrative’ out there — this idea white people are being kept down, this idea that white people are being oppressed. Does this have anything to do with this? I think it’s worth asking the question.”

Later in the show, Sirota urged caution when the next act of violence happens if the perpetrator isn’t a white male.

“I hope the next time when something happens and it’s not a white man at the center of it, that the same logic will extend to that person and those groups as well,” Sirota said. “My point here is that we tend to individualize crime by whites, while ascribing to entire groups of people the actions of individuals if those individuals are non-whites. That if these were all Arabs who had been doing these mass shootings we would be having a conversation about what to do about the Arab community. Right now we’re not having a conversation about what to do with the white male community because white privilege suggests that we should never ask those kinds of questions. And I don’t think racial profiling is a good idea — I don’t think it’s successful — but we should remember the double standard.

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