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Is it time to start profiling white males?

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- White men scare me. There, I said it.

Based on my conversations with Latino and African-American friends, I think many of them feel the same way. If they're walking down a dark street at night and see three white men in their 20s walking toward them, they're thinking hate crime.

After all, pick up a history book, and look at what white males did to black slaves, American Indians, Chinese immigrants and Mexicans in the occupied Southwest. They're the original bad hombres.

And so, after the Las Vegas massacre -- where a 64-year-old white man named Stephen Paddock carried 23 guns into a hotel suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and opened fire on an outdoor concert crowd, killing at least 59 people and wounding more than 520 others -- it's fair to ask: "Is it time for authorities to start profiling white males who purchase unusually large amounts of high-powered weapons and ammunition?"

Yes, it is. And why not? There is plenty of evidence that law enforcement officers routinely profile African-Americans, Latinos and Muslim Americans. It's become part of police work.

In 1999, the New Jersey State Police admitted to pulling over African-American motorists more often than white drivers. In 2010, Arizona lawmakers codified ethnic profiling by requiring local police to determine the legal status of those suspected of being in the country illegally (read: Latinos).

So how did white men get to be so special that -- in an era when so many mass shootings are linked to gunmen who fit that profile -- it is still considered outrageous to say that this demographic merits extra scrutiny? Talk about white male privilege.

Given the carnage in Las Vegas, a lot of folks -- on both the right and the left -- are instinctively talking about guns. That's a circular, highly charged argument that goes nowhere.

What we should be talking about is race. Not the race of the victims, but the race of the shooter.

Authorities insist that Paddock -- who was reportedly wealthy, liked to gamble and had no known political or religious affiliations -- fits none of the established profiles.

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