“A Troubled Loner”

I like to resist too knee-jerk a response to how people of different races and religions accused of crimes are described. Every incident is different. They need to be approached on their own facts and merits. But, man, quite often the contrast is simply too jarring and large not to state the obvious. Blacks and Muslim killers are part of political movements and socio-political forces. White guys are “troubled.”

Early on Wednesday Scott Greene allegedly killed two Des Moines police officers, execution style, as they sat in their patrol car driver’s seats. The Times article describes Greene as a “troubled loner” and that’s the tone of the story.He’d had a long string of arrests and confrontations of various sorts. A judge had just ordered him out of his mother’s home after claims of abuse. In mid-October he showed up at a football game at his daughter’s high school and paraded a Confederate flag in front of a group of African-American students.

After being asked to leave school grounds by police officers he insisted the officers arrest “the African-American people” who he claimed hit him and took his flag. That got him banned from school grounds.

Local police had had many run-ins with him and he was “known to go armed.” Back in 2014 he was “accused of approaching a man in an Urbandale parking lot, shining a flashlight at him, threatening to kill him and using a racial slur.” (Suspect that guy in the parking lot probably wasn’t white.)

It’s true that Greene’s life had seemingly fallen apart. His marriage broke up. He lost custody of his kids. His father died. There was a bankruptcy. But lots of people who commit horrific acts of violence have stuff like that in their background. It’s more like the norm, frankly. Rather than a “troubled loner”, one might as easily call Greene a habitual criminal and violent racist.

I think it goes without saying that if Greene were black or (one can only imagine) a Muslim, this story would be part of the national political narrative.