On Wednesday, America met a deeply evil human being: Vester Lee Flanagan II, also known as reporter Bryce Williams.
Williams murdered two people while they were live on air on WDBJ in Virginia: reporter Alison Parker, and cameraman Adam Ward. After the murders, he went on the run – and while he was on the run, he tweeted out his rationale for the killings, accusing Parker of making “racist comments” and Ward of going “to hr on me after working with me one time!!!” He then posted video to his Facebook and Twitter pages of himself shooting both at point-blank range.
Williams is black. Parker and Ward were white.
Williams is gay. Parker and Ward were straight.
None of which would be relevant, except that Williams specifically cited his identity as a factor in the killings. In a 23-page rambling letter sent to ABC News, Williams wrote that the Charleston church shooting in June should have provoked a race war: “Why did I do it? I put a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…What sent me over the top was the church shooting…You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” According to ABC News, he claimed he had “suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work,” that he had “been attacked by black men and white females,” and that he had been “attacked for being a gay, black man.”
Williams marinated in his self-appointed victimhood status. He filed a lawsuit against his Tallahassee, Florida employer, WTWC – a lawsuit settled out of court. He filed a complaint with the with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against WDBJ after his firing – a complaint the EEOC dismissed. According to WDBJ station manager Jeff Marks, Williams was “an unhappy man” with a “reputation as someone who had been difficult to work with… looking out for people to say things that he could take offense to.”
Had a white straight man killed a black gay man, released first-person tape of the shooting, and then unleashed a manifesto about being victimized by affirmative action and anti-religious bigotry from homosexuals, the media would never stop covering the story. They’d be eager to report that shooter’s motives with all the attendant politically correct hullaballoo about the racism and homophobia of the United States more broadly. We would hear about white supremacy (reprehensible Black Lives Matter leader Deray McKesson actually jumped the gun, thinking the shooter was white, and tweeted, “Whiteness will explain away nearly anything”).
We would hear excoriations of the Republican presidential candidates for their failures to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement–and their opposition to same-sex marriage. In similar circumstances, the entire political and media establishment determined that the Confederate flag was somehow to blame for Dylan Storm Roof’s brutal slaying of nine people at a historically black church; just last week, the media tried to blame Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance for two thugs beating up a Hispanic homeless man in Boston.
But Bryce Williams’ self-described victim status, even while murdering innocents, will merit no rethinking of the divisive politics in which he apparently bathed. We won’t have a conversation about whether pushing a perennial picture of victimhood for blacks and gays in the most black-friendly, gay-friendly country on the planet could drive supposed victims to violence. We won’t talk about whether the Democratic Party’s takeover by the Black Lives Matter crew has encouraged some people to believe that only black lives matter, since only black lives are in danger – and even then, only some black lives matter, namely those killed by white people. Instead, we will be assured that Bryce Williams is an outlier by the same people who blamed Sarah Palin for Jared Lee Loughner shooting Gabrielle Giffords.
It is true that statistical outliers should not be used to club entire movements into submission. But leftists protesting at the linkage between Williams and their favored political causes have no ground on which to stand – they consistently blame conservatives for outlier events with no statistical basis. Moreover, Williams’ violence is part of a larger trend, not of black men killing white people (that still happens disproportionately, but the numbers are down), but of black men using supposed American racism as a rationale for violence more generally, and of gay people using supposed American homophobia as a rationale for violation of others’ rights.
Some in the media are actually going beyond delinking Williams from his politics – they’redefending Williams’ perverse worldview, questioning whether evil, racist, homophobic America created him. Columnist WonderWomanist at Gawker wrote, “I can understand him being frustrated with racial discrimination at his job but it was not worth throwing his life over… RIP to the victims even though they may have been racist.”
Kay Steiger at ThinkProgress took Williams’ self-serving narrative at face value: “One part of the document included the phrase ‘Suicide Note for Friends and Family’ and detailed discrimination he experienced as a gay, black man.”
But most of the the media will swivel to gun control, following the lead of the White House and Hillary Clinton, both of whom called for heavier gun control laws – even as both push for the release of criminals from prisons, a crackdown on law enforcement, and a racially divisive narrative of the country pitting black against white, all for political gain.
All of these policies will do nothing to stop Bryce Williamses — in fact, they will make Bryce Williamses more common. Teaching Americans that they aren’t victims would be a great way of battling evil – most victims aren’t evil, but virtually all evil people think they are victims, and thus justify their violence. But teaching Americans that they aren’t victims would undercut the Democratic message that all minorities are victims, and thus require bigger government. And that message, and its attendant political success, must take precedence over the building of a more inclusive, more understanding country.