Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Individuals vs. Members of a Group

By Thomas Kochman - 11.11.2009

I agree with David Brooks that the rush to characterize Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan killing of 12 soldiers and 1 civilian at Fort Hood as non- ideological was premature. I also agree that it was partly motivated by the wish to prevent backlash against Muslim’s as a group.

Of course, this last concern would not exist if Hasan and Muslims in the U.S. generally were not seen as members of a group where the actions of one are seen to implicate others of that group.

Compare for example, the different reaction toward Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols who killed 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. There was no concern of backlash against white men because McVeigh and Nichols happen to be white men. They, like other white men in the U.S., were seen simply as individuals, not collectively, as members of a racial, ethnic or religious group.

The experience of U.S. white men when they go outside the U.S. begins to resemble the experience of ethnic minorities within the U.S.  There, they are seen as “Americans”, and begin to feel the pressure that comes from being seen collectively as members of a group: implicated not only by the actions of other Americans but those of America as a whole.

For U.S. white men, that is often a new experience. For U.S. racial, ethnic or religious minorities, it’s old hat.

One Response so far

Yes, but thanks to the likes of Kochman whites in the US will soon be able to experience what it is like to be a minority group.

And I’m sure that other groups will happily sign up for diversity training to be nice to whites & reduce violent crime against them.

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