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Angry White Boy

By Marty Nemko

What's the common thread among the school shootings at Columbine, Jonesboro, Paducah, Conyers, Oregon, Alberta, and the other copycats? The shooters were all alienated middle-class white males.

What's different about now versus previous decades? Why have all these school shootings emerged now? Until recently, alienated middle-class white male teens could take solace in their being accepted, indeed, extolled by mainstream society. Today, however, the white male teen who is rejected by peers is also de facto rejected by the mainstream society that he sees: every school and media celebration of Blacks, gays, women, etc., is by omission, a denigration of straight white males. Middle- and upper-class white males are often referred to in the curriculum as oppressors and in sitcoms as boors or evil. Hollywood, in part in fear of being called racist, is bending over backwards to, where possible, make the bad guy a white male.

Most teens are deeply concerned with being accepted. Today's middle-class white male teen, if rejected by peers, neglected by too-busy parents, and now, for the first time, denigrated by society, may consider violence; they feel unaccepted, unloved--an intolerable situation for many teens. While gun control and better parent-child communication are, of course, partial answers, I believe that an essential part of the solution is to ensure that the media and schools aren't celebratory of everyone but white males. Indeed, the curriculum should be less divisive. It seems that, outside of science and math, much of today's curriculum is inadvertently polarizing; much of the discussion centers around race, class, gender, and sexual orientation--with recommendations typically that middle-class white males are the bad guys. That can engender anger from a teenager who already feels that everyone is against him. And that sense of commonality, I believe, would help instill a conscience that might prevent school shootings.

A few years ago, we heard of "The Angry White Male." The school shootings are, I believe, a manifestation of the Angry White Boy.

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