Dylann Roof Doesn’t Represent Millennials

Dylann Roof Doesn’t Represent Millennials

If liberals want to blame millennials for racism that could descend into Dylann Roof's behavior, they should hold up a mirror.
Mitch Hall
By

Since news broke last Wednesday evening that depraved 21 year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine innocent worshippers at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, we’ve heard a myriad of responses from the American media. The prevailing sentiment is, of course, disappointment at yet another senseless tragedy, although many lawmakers and media pundits wasted no time in exploiting the tragedy to push an agenda for gun control. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the protocol for Democrats has become, in the words of Rahm Emmanuel, to never let “a serious crisis go to waste.”

Roof, who admitted that he wished to start a “race war,” explicitly targeted African-Americans at an historically black church with significant ties to the civil rights movement. Throughout the past few days, traces of Roof’s deep-seeded, violently racist ideology have been found in his personal writings and photos. Indeed, the striking racial dynamics of this massacre have not only distinguished it from most other mass shootings of recent memory, but have also provoked some more outrageous responses from leftist thinkers who want you to believe America didn’t need Roof to start a race war.

Dylann Roof: Your Average White Millennial?

In a Washington Post article titled “Charleston, Dylann Roof, and the racism of millennials,” Editor Karen Attiah makes a bold claim:

Roof, who was born in 1994, violently shatters one particularly entrenched myth that society holds about racism — that today’s millennials are more tolerant than their parents, and that racism will magically die out as previous generations pass on.

Attiah’s justification for extrapolating Roof to represent an entire generation? She cites one single study by the General Social Survey, which includes five measures of racial prejudice and compares millennials’ answers to those of the respondents from the last three generations. The study, analyzed by the Post here, has been referenced by many liberal blogs to prove that the millennial generation is “just as racist” as previous generations.

Of course, implicit in the “just as racist” charge is the belief that their parents are, as a whole, racist. But the study itself provides little support for characterizing either generation as racially intolerant.

If a real generational problem of racial intolerance existed, those numbers should be much, much higher.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the study results: In various ways, the study essentially asks whether white millennials think black people are lazier, less intelligent, and less motivated than whites, whether or not they approve of interracial marriage, and whether they would live in a neighborhood that’s 50 percent African-American.

For both Generation X and Millennials, only about 10 percent of respondents would oppose interracial marriage or living in a half-black neighborhood. About 2 in 10 think blacks are naturally less intelligent, while 3 in 10 say they’re lazier. The study found the most prejudice (about 40 percent) in the belief that black people are less well off because of a lack of motivation.

It’s important to realize that studies and surveys are not foolproof evidence for anything. And while these results indicate that some small minorities of the white millennial population subscribe to bigoted stereotypes about black people, they hardly validate Attiah’s sweeping charge of racism. This isn’t to say we young folks are perfect; every generation and every race will always have members who hold these views. But if a real generational problem of racial intolerance existed, those numbers should be much, much higher.

And for every study that purports to show the racism of millennials, there’s one to suggest that millennials are indeed more Progressive than generations past. This frequently cited 2010 Pew Research study details many of these differences. Even this research study done by MTV, which has evolved into a massive purveyor of the liberal agenda, reveals that millennials hold overwhelmingly positive and tolerant attitudes toward racial equality and diversity.

Tolerance Isn’t Limited To Race

Many leftist thinkers like Attiah seize on studies like these to refute the frequent claims that millennials are the most tolerant and diverse generation in recent American history. It’s all a myth, they say, an ignorant fantasy. Millennials—especially white millennials—aren’t really better than those crotchety old folks of yesterday.

Millennials do show an unparalleled commitment to tolerance on a whole slew of issues.

The truth is, however, that millennials do show an unparalleled commitment to tolerance on a whole slew of issues, from religion and abortion to illegal immigration. The fact that similarities might exist between millennials and Generation X on the one issue of racial stereotypes doesn’t disprove the “myth” of the progressive millennial.

Gay rights sticks out as the most striking example. Within the last ten years—the decade in which millennials have come of age—gay marriage has gone from a laughable fantasy to being legal in 37 states. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that without the revolutionary views of millennials, gay marriage could be on the very brink of nationwide legalization as it is today. And the statistics are there to back that up: by and large, millennials are the most supportive of the LGBT agenda, from gay marriage to non-traditional “gender identity,” and even to promiscuous sexual behavior. What’s more is that it’s white people who outstrip minorities in their sympathy for these issues.

If Millennials Have a Race Problem, Whose Fault Is It?

But let’s say that the liberals are right, that these numbers indicate a race problem for millennials, and that Roof is a product of the intolerance of his generation. Who’s to blame, and what should we do about it?

Millennials have actually grown up positively surrounded by liberal ideas.

Shockingly, the consensus among liberals in the wake of the shooting has been that Republican policies and ideas are largely responsible for the racism present in American society. Of course! How could it not be those racist, sexist, all-kinds-of-phobic right-wingers indoctrinating white millennials over at Fox News? Mystery solved!

Not so fast. With just a few seconds of deeper thought, one can see the absurdity of this allegation. A clear majority of millennials are politically liberal, and have probably never seen Fox News beyond whatever Jon Stewart mocks on “The Daily Show.” On the contrary, millennials have actually grown up positively surrounded by liberal ideas.

The overwhelming liberal bias in mainstream cable networks and newspapers, for instance, has been well documented over the years, evidenced by records of campaign donations from network employees as well as virtually all empirical studies done to date. Millennials are also gathering more and more of their daily news from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, platforms which are similarly dominated by progressives. And even greater still is the bias present in American academia. Studies have concluded that anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent of college professors are unabashedly liberal, whereas the most generous estimates of conservative professors hover around 15 percent. A quick Google search will also yield countless of instances of liberal preferences beginning even earlier, in high schools and grade schools across the country.

Given all of the exposure millennials have toward liberal thought, how can it be that conservatives at Fox News managed to hoodwink an entire generation into being racially intolerant? No, if liberals feel that millennials aren’t progressive enough, yet the Left has the most access to millennials, then the logical conclusion is that a reflection on their own teachings and activism is in order.

If liberals feel millennials aren’t progressive enough, yet the Left has the most access to millennials, then the logical conclusion is that a reflection on their own teachings and activism is in order.

It’s entirely possible that liberal positions on political issues are giving young Americans the wrong ideas. Liberals show unwavering support for affirmative action, which is predicated on the belief that black people and other minorities, for whatever reason, can’t succeed in school to the degree that whites can, despite the fact that they have enjoyed considerable success in every professional field. Liberals oppose voter ID laws, arguing they disenfranchise minorities, and some like Hillary Clinton even call for automatic registration and weeks-long period of early voting. The takeaway from this? White people are able to register, obtain a photo ID, and get to the polls on election day, but minorities simply aren’t.

As the recent Confederate flag controversy–spurred by the Charleston shooting–has shown, it’s not just America anymore. We now have “White America” and “Black America,” two distinct entities pitted against each other, made up of members who think and behave the exact same way. (Interestingly, it’s predominantly been white Northeastern liberals calling for “White America” to answer for its supposed crimes. One would have thought that the minority members of “Black America” possessed enough agency and ability to do that themselves if they wanted to. But I digress.)

Ultimately, this all helps illustrate what has become the foundation of modern liberalism. Various aspects of your identity—your race, gender, sexuality—automatically determine your worldview, and if you dare tread outside the ideological confines of your little box, you simply can’t be tolerated. Just look at how liberals treat black Republicans, like Clarence Thomas or Ben Carson. They’re self-hating Uncle Toms who are so stupid they don’t even know what’s in their own best interest. The same goes for female and gay Republicans, too. Remind me again who the intolerant ones are?

One thing is clear: If the reaction to Charleston over the past week tells us anything, it’s that we didn’t need Dylann Roof to start a race war. It appears we’re already in the midst of one.

 

Mitch Hall is a student at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, former intern for The Federalist, and an alum of the National Journalism Center in Washington DC. He works for the Family Policy Institute of Washington in Seattle, Washington, and continues to write about contemporary political issues. Reach him at mitchhallwm@gmail.com.

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