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Officer Sean Gannon’s death says a lot about white privilege in the U.S.



When a white police officer gets killed in the U.S., there is no need to propose major policy changes against an entire race or religion. Is that fair?


While serving a warrant for a probation violation in Cape Cod, Officer Sean Gannon was shot and killed by Thomas Latanowich, a 29-year-old with 114 prior offenses.

Like most people my age, I saw the news on Twitter. How his family would know to come of his tragic death distressed me immensely.

I thought I would see Tweets from our conservative friends about the ‘war on cops’ in America and try to somehow link his death to President Obama. But I was pleasantly surprised when all they did was pay respect to Officer Gannon and extend their support to his family.


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The same Twitter accounts that had tweeted in all caps about the terrorist attack at a supermarket in Southern France, for some reason did not seem interested in politicizing Officer Gannon’s death.

Would their attitude about the officer’s death be the same if the shooter were African American, Muslim, Latino or an immigrant? Fuck No!

If the killer were black, they would link the death to Eric Holders’ Justice Department. They would tweet out racist memes, and express their support for Jeff Sessions’ revival of bigoted law enforcement policies. Colin Kaepernick would be trashed for ‘mainstreaming respect for America and its’ protectors’.


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If the killer were Muslim, they would reiterate their support for banning all Muslims from ever coming to the United States. “Dr” Sebastian Gorka would be on Fox News parroting far-right talking points to build a case for the ‘clash of civilizations’.

If the killer were Latino, conservatives would rally against DACA. Ann Coulter would appear on Fox to demand a wall and to remind President Trump that Americans voted for him to keep America from returning to its’ brown roots.

If the killer were an immigrant, they would back Tom Cotton’s proposal to cut not just illegal immigration but also legal immigration from predominantly non-white countries.

But since the killer IS white, thoughts and prayers suffice. There is no need to propose major policy changes against an entire race or religion.

When riots broke out in Baltimore during protests against the police brutality, I asked a black friend of mine about them. The subject visibly discomfited him; he hung his head and didn’t look at me and just said; “it’s terrible!”. I quickly changed the subject.

This is how I feel after an Islamist terrorist attack. Regardless of which country I am in, people stare at me differently as I walk down the street because I have tattoos in Arabic on my right arm and leg.

It almost feels like my sorrow and outrage over a terrorist attack has to be more austere than others to convince them that the cries of victims move me as much as them.

Part of the reason I am made to feel this way is that I have Muslim roots on my father’s side but feel no ‘racial guilt’ whatsoever due to white roots on my mum’s side when a white dude messes up.

Trump’s pick for Secretary of State believes every Muslim is ‘potentially complicit’ in terrorist attacks. So if Muslim roots on my dad’s side make me a ‘complicit’ in Islamist terror attacks, do white roots on my mum’s side make me a ‘complicit’ in Officer Gannon’s murder?

The answer is obviously no because there are different levels of guilt for people with different backgrounds. And society’s expectations of reaction to an incident depends specifically to which racial or religious group did the perpetrator belong.

When incidents like officer Gannon’s death occur, I don’t even need to express any outrage at all to convince someone that my white roots don’t radicalize me. They already know this. But in case of a Muslim attack, I am forced to renounce a barbaric dogma even if I didn’t adhere to it in the first place.

White privilege is not about getting paid more although that is a part of it. At its’ core, white privilege is society’s readiness to absolve whites of any ‘collective guilt’ in case a member of their race messes up.

It reminds of Sean Hannity after the Las Vegas shooting. On air, he said something along the lines of: ‘The shooter had no links to terrorists, no criminal background, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO HATE ABOUT THIS GUY’.


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How about killing 58 people at a music concert, isn’t that enough a reason to hate the guy Sean?

Hannity, Ann Coulter and other neo-conservatives would never say that about an African American, Latino or a Muslim murderer. But because the Las Vegas shooter was white, Hannity saw no reason to hate a mass-murderer.

The severity of outrage shouldn’t depend on the race, religion, and immigration status of the killer. It neither comforts victims nor helps our efforts to present a united resistance against such incidents.🔷




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(This piece was first published on The Blog!)


(Cover: Pixabay - U.S. Constitution.)


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Political Science Student. Writer of sorts.
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