Before we begin, you should know what this is all about. Instead of waxing eloquently about how white men get to become sympathetic figures even after they commit the most heinous acts imaginable, we decided to show you.
When Adam Lanza strolled into Sandy Hook Elementary strapped with guns and opened fire on 6- and 7-year-olds, here is what they said about him:
When Kenneth Gleason allegedly shot two black men to death in a racially motivated killing last month, the New York Post described him this way:
So no one was surprised when newspapers and media outlets painted the man suspected of what is being called “the biggest mass shooting in American history” as a wealthy, fun-loving, hoedown-dancing retiree who just happened to pick up the hobby of senseless mass murder:
But we at The Root live by the credo that all
white mass murderers are created equal and are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the privilege of being whitewashed for America’s gentrified, alternative history. So Senior Editor Stephen A. Crockett Jr. and staff writer Michael Harriot decided to give this treatment to some of the evilest men from our past:
People near the compound where Osama bin Laden and his multiple wives hid from international law-enforcement officers after planning the murder of thousands say he was a quiet neighbor who loved pork chops, and they could remember only one disturbance from his home: he had a big, loud, raucous party that lasted well into the night on Sept. 11, 2001.
People familiar with the convicted cannibal and murderer said that he often had company (although they rarely saw anyone leave) and held intimate barbecues (although the meat always tasted a little funny—#TastesLikeChicken).
Before he drove a truck packed with explosives and killed 168 people, including children, at a day care center, Timothy McVeigh was known for incoherent rants about the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges, about how black people were going to start a race war and about Krispy Kreme doughnuts—because everyone likes Krispy Kreme doughnuts?
Said one family member: “He was loved by all. How many black people do you know who would let a white guy make the Kool-Aid? His favorite flavor was the red one.”
The angel responsible for evil around the globe was an angelic singer who fed the hungry. Two of his oldest friends, Adam and Eve, said: “He showed us where we could get some of the best forbidden fruit we ever tasted. It was world-changing. He even said we looked good naked.”
Before Gacy would go on to kill some 33 people and bury some 29 of them under a crawl space outside his house, he was just a grown man who dressed up as a clown for fun and held parties in his neighborhood, because what grown man doesn’t dress up like a clown in his off time? Gacy had nothing on It.
That’s right: Years after David Berkowitz would terrorize New York, killing six people and wounding seven others, all at the request of a dog named Harvey owned by his neighbor Sam, Spike Lee would make Summer of Sam. Unlike the others on this list, Berkowitz is getting his best press now while serving six life sentences—he prefers to be called the Son of Hope because he found Jesus in jail.
Said one of Roof’s neighbors: “I never saw anything out of the ordinary. I mean, he loved to make fires and wear really high leather white supremacist boots, and he never really waved but would just stick his arm straight out whenever I saw him.”
On July 20, 2012, James Holmes, 24, dressed up as the Joker, walked into a Colorado movie theater and opened fire. He killed 12 people and wounded 70. But before doing some really abnormal shit like dressing up as the Joker and walking into a movie theater fully armed, Holmes was a regular guy who did all kinds of regular-guy shit, including bathing and drinking beer. He also dressed up like the Joker and went to the movies.
Before he severely injured former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, neighbors noted that Loughner was a quiet boy who prayed and often fed the homeless with food out of his own lunch pail. One woman was quoted as saying that if he wasn’t cutting neighbors’ lawns for free, he was often seen carrying groceries into people’s homes even if it wasn’t that person’s home or groceries. Another neighbor said that she didn’t know the boy’s name because everyone called him “God’s most special sperm.”