Of course, this is a question that has been asked (and answered) myriad times already—particularly when another Charlottesville, Va., happens, or another Mark Anthony Conditt or Adam Lanza or Dylann Roof or Stephen Paddock decides, with no clear provocation, to weaponize his anger and murder people.
These are men who exist in a country where men who look like them own most of the property, possess most of the money and run most of the businesses; where men who look like them sit in elected offices everywhere and create agendas and enact policies specifically meant to benefit men who look like them; where men who look like them are celebrated and amplified and exalted so frequently that it is literally news when those honors are extended to people who don’t; where they are never guests and where validation exists in perpetuity; where negative consequences for them are more of an idea—a theory, perhaps—than a reality.
And yet these men are our domestic terrorists. They are our militia founders and leaders. Our most prominent anarchists. Our most likely nihilists. Our angriest police officers, our angriest welders, our angriest plumbers, our angriest teachers, our angriest accountants, our angriest engineers, our angriest pastors, our angriest firefighters, our angriest college professors, our angriest presidents.
And I guess this question is asked so frequently because their anger is so perplexing. Sure, there are “answers.” There’s racial anxiety. There’s economic anxiety. There’s a sense of irrelevance. There’s an angst about their place in the world. There’s the feeling that a place that was once theirs no longer is. There’re women doing ... things. Each of these answers would be fine if not for the fact that people who are not white men are also dealing with many of these same issues. And because they’re not white men, they’re dealing with more potent versions of those problems.
But we know this already. And we still ask that question. And I believe we still ask that question because when we ask, “Why are white men so angry?” we’re really asking, “What is the endgame of this white male anger?” and “Is there a way to insulate or protect ourselves from it?” and “Will these angry white men kill us all?”
And we don’t have those answers yet.