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I hope that the New Year was restful and celebratory. Before Christmas, there was a momentary "national conversation" about gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre. Curiously, but not surprising, said moment of introspection about how America's gun culture eats it youth has fallen off of the national radar as the pundit classes have moved on to other matters. There will be other mass shootings; we will have said "national conversation" again; nothing will be done given the NRA's murder hold on the American people.

As I explored in a series of posts at We Are Respectable Negroes, Alternet, and here on the Daily Kos, the central question regarding the Gun Right is how these mass shootings do not lead to any serious exploration of the intersection(s) of Whiteness, White Masculinity, and mass gun violence. White men commit an overwhelming amount of the mass shootings in the United States. Yet, except for a few outliers, there is no sustained effort to engage the obvious puzzle: if white men are killing people, often by the dozens--in murders where they are the offenders at twice their rate in the general population--why are so many in the news media afraid and hostile to basic questions about "white crime?"

In my effort to explore this question, I reached out to two great scholars of American history and culture. Both kindly agreed to participate in WARN's podcast series.

Our first guest is Professor Ann Little, author of the book Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England, who writes over at the great website Historiann. In our podcast, she does a wonderful job of setting up our conversation by offering a wonderful, rich, and insightful perspective on the Newtown Massacre and the colonial era roots of the United States' (near pathological) love of guns in the present

Dr. Little was so very generous with her time. We covered a great amount of material in this conversation and offered up a necessary, and to this point, very much lacking historical context for the Newtown Massacre, and the fear by many in the pundit classes to even discuss white masculinity and gun violence.

This was a real treat. I was so glad to be able to bring this dialogue to the readers of We Are Respectable Negroes and those who follow our podcast series.

I do hope you enjoy the conversation.



                       
2:59 As a historian and scholar of America and gun culture, what were your first thoughts about the Newtown Massacre?
6:18 How do we begin to think broadly about masculinity and gun culture in the United States, and how it helps us to understand Adam Lanza's murder spree?
11:22 The gun and white male citizenship in colonial America and the Founding
15:00 Is the magical thinking of Conservatives typified by the gun control debate? What are some of the regional differences in regards to gun culture in the United States? How is this surprising (or not)?
23:55 An open letter to white men. Beginning to think about White masculinity, Whiteness and gun violence
29:25 How do people respond to conversations where whiteness and masculinity are interrogated and challenged?
34:40 Is White Masculinity a story of historical continuity or change? Is White Heterosexual Masculinity static?
48:27 More context for avoiding a critical interrogation of Whiteness and gun violence: White Mediocrity and the subsidization of Whiteness vs. the myth of American Meritocracy
56:14 Historical myopia, the luxury of being white and historical memory, and the allure of believing the "White Lies" of American history
62:14 What is your "blogging story?" How does blogging fit into your academic career?
64:03 The failure of academics to be able to effectively communicate with "regular" folks who are also smart like them
69:20 Academic writing's impact vs the audience and impact of blogging

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:24 AM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sadly many even among us act the way Dr. Little (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber

    describes when it comes to talking about guns.  And we are in freaking 2013!  Sure there are some women that are 2A fundamentalists, but it is mostly men as Dr. Little describes.

    Interesting that around minute 32 there is an interesting discussion about religion, masculinity and guns. I think that the whole Second Amendment fundamentalist movement  (that has come to find this absolute right in the last 20-30 years by means of NRA bribery and stacking the courts) definitely mimics many other fundamentalist religions, of course centered among men.

    There are great pieces in the interview that connect the gun culture to men feeling threatened (or perhaps inadequate) by women and it seems to make a lot of sense.  I disagree that men have not changed (I'd like to think that I am significantly different on gender issues than my father was), but I understand the central point that a male-dominated hierarchy finds it very threatening for women (and others that traditionally were their inferiors like minorities or immigrants) to step out of their (my words) god-given superior place.

    Thank you so much for posting this.  It is fascinating!

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:48:30 AM PST

    •  the angle about religion was very provocative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DefendOurConstitution, blueness

      and fits perfectly with the right's robust christian masculinity themes. i was surprised it had not received more comment.

      •  I just came to the realization that the Second (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        Amendment fundamentalists/absolutists/purists (or whatever anyone might call them) certainly behave like a fundamentalist religion (e.g. Taliban, American or Afghan) in the last few days, and the whole manhood/masculinity angle helps understand their psyche some more.  The funny thing is that in their pie fights they accuse me of being insecure, but I guess projection is one of the easiest defense mechanisms.

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 12:59:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What if it's simply that white men have money? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    atana

    The Aurora shooter had to spend buckets of money to prepare for his atrocity.

    Another possibility is that it's a first-mover effect: all the copycats are following previous mass murderers who they could identify with.

    The culture hypothesis has one major point going for it. I can't remember any mass shootings happening before the 60s, when women and African-Americans began to get their rights recognized. Were there any? Gun culture had been there all along, since before we were a country. White males had been at least as violent as other humans all along.

  •  macho comes in a color for every decor (0+ / 0-)

    Oregon: Sure...it's cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 12:31:55 PM PST

    •  absolutely, we need a critical conversation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DefendOurConstitution, blueness

      about "masculinity" in general. "We" are much more comfortable talking about black masculinity for a variety of reasons--even the debased and caricaturized versions of black hyperthug masculinity that can trace their roots back to slavery and the white racial imagination--than discussing white masculinity in any way. There is a great documentary called Tough Guise that you would find useful.

      •  Joe Jackson's "Real Men" comes to mind ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueness

        "Real Men" on YouTube

        It always amazed me how little humor many men have when masculinity is discussed.  I never had much of an issue with it since I grew up in a matriarchal family with my Mom and 5 sisters (father was away at work, older brothers were gone and younger brother was much younger), so I always thought that as a boy/man I had the same rights as girls/women (in spite of growing up in a staunchly conservative Catholic home).  It would have never occurred to me that I had, or could feel entitled, to any intellectual/social/educational/professional advantage over a female, that is until I came to college in Boston in 1978 and saw how poorly college guys treated women - I mean this is in the middle of trying to pass the ERA and I had very negative responses from young people in Massachusetts about all the horrible things that the ERA would do!

        Maybe I don't feel my masculinity is threatened because I never felt superior for it, but many in our Society certainly do.  

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 12:54:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  American Protestantism in particular.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueness

    is very worried about its masculinity. One of the reasons Jesus' teachings are given such short shrift is because they are largely  seen as passive or "feminine" values; love others, help others, love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, render on to Caesar, etc etc. If American Protestant men actually took these things to heart, they could not posture the way they do.

    In reaction, they pretend to understand New Testament teachings, and then act and posture as if its 2500 BCE in the Greek Empire period, with city states, warrior rulers, threatening and paranoid neighbors. (Persians especially)

    It seems that American Protestantism, for men, instead of evolving a new kind of human being, has devolved into a 3rd millenium BC heathen warrior society. That would encapsulate a great deal of the attitudes and behavior of white, and black, American men. The Catholics imitate, being a vast minority here, and the Mormons, well, they also are forced to compete violent act for violent act from their very inception here.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 03:23:38 PM PST

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