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May 27, 2022

Missing the Real Red Flag

American society is cultivating rage in young men that manifests in murderous behavior.

In the wake of another massacre that has left 21 individuals dead, including 19 children, heavy-hearted Americans are asking the inevitable question: What do we do to stop these kinds of senseless atrocities from continuing to happen?

Unfortunately, but understandably, the Texas school tragedy provides an opportunity for those with political agendas to demand their policies get fast-tracked with the empty promise that doing something will be better than doing nothing. And for the anti-gun lobby, that something is the passage of more laws that limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American citizens.

With self-righteous indignation, these anti-gun zealots assert that the refusal of lawmakers to pass new laws that would infringe on the rights of innocent law-abiding Americans, who had absolutely nothing to do with the evil atrocity, is tantamount to having blood on their hands. In truth, such statements are emotional bullying, especially given the fact that the proposed laws would do nothing to prevent the actions of the evil individual in the first place.

Americans’ access to firearms is not the problem. Those who insist that it is are scrambling to avoid deeper and more fundamentally troubling questions regarding the condition of humanity in general and our wider society’s current cultural values.

NPR asked all 100 U.S. senators for their response to the Uvalde school massacre. Most of the answers were predictable based upon party affiliation — Democrats called for more gun control, while some Republicans floated interest in so-called red flag laws and mental illness awareness. Few seemed to want to address the deeper societal issues, save Alaska Republican Daniel Sullivan, who via a spokesman offered the following comment:

At the heart of these evil acts is a sickness threatening our nation. The common theme of almost all of these mass shootings is the social alienation of sick young men, often fueled by social media.

In that regard, I believe our nation is in the initial stages of a severe mental health crisis manifesting in the worst ways imaginable, especially among our youth. The causes are multifaceted, and I am deeply committed to understanding and addressing this crisis.

The number of school attacks that can be genuinely classified as mass shootings has averaged about one a year over the last two decades. As Sullivan pointedly observes, the common element in all of these attacks has been the perpetrators. They have all been young men — young, angry men.

The question of what’s fueling this deadly explosive anger should not be written off as simply “mental illness,” since not all the perpetrators were clinically mentally ill. Feelings of alienation, broken homes, and fatherlessness are among the list of factors associated with these young men, and they form part of a larger equation.

There is also a larger societal question regarding how men and masculinity are perceived, which may be having an underappreciated impact. Has modern Western society, in its pursuit of equality between the sexes, effectively gone too far? Has Western society become so feminized that it has cultivated a culture that emasculates boys by classifying manliness as “toxic”? Are we raising a generation of young men who feel increasingly frustrated, confused, aimless, under-respected, and attacked for simply being men?

Obviously, we think the answer to these questions is “yes,” but this by no means justifies or excuses the actions of these evil individuals. These are sobering questions America needs to face, as this type of murderous rage and anger don’t simply happen for no reason. What may be fueling it? What can we do to stop it?

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