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CNN's Don Lemon: White men are 'biggest terror threat' to U.S.

The CNN anchor made the remarks during a live broadcast on Monday night.

Image: CNN
  • Lemon was having a conversation about a recent shooting, which appeared to be racially motivated, when he made the remark.
  • He's been criticized by many conservatives on Twitter, some of whom say his comments are hypocritical.
  • Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian also addressed a similar topic this week in an interview with Quartz.

CNN anchor Don Lemon said Monday that "the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right," adding that "there is no travel ban on them."

Lemon was speaking to fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo on live TV about a white man who shot and killed two black people outside a grocery store in Jeffersontown, KY. The shootings are being investigated as a hate crime, and they occurred during the same week as 13 suspected explosives were sent to prominent Democratic figures and 11 people were murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

"I keep trying to point out to people and not to demonize any one group or any one ethnicity," Lemon said. "But we keep thinking that the biggest terror threat is something else, some people who are marching, you know, towards the border, like it's imminent."

CNN's Don Lemon: "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." pic.twitter.com/OFu9fL3eHn
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 31, 2018

A more generous interpretation

Lemon's comment was almost certainly phrased poorly. Still, taking the most generous interpretation of his sentiment, the CNN anchor was likely trying to point out that some people demonize Muslims, immigrants and other ethnic groups as being sentient, violent threats to the safety of Americans although the majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are committed by white males.

According to a Mother Jones database of U.S. mass shootings, 54 percent of mass shootings in recent years have been committed by white men. (Note: There are varying definitions of "mass shooting"; Mother Jones considers one to occur when a lone gunman indiscriminately kills at least three people.) Other studies echo the findings, though it's worth noting that white men also comprise a greater percentage of the population than other groups.

Lemon's comments come the same week as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian touched upon a similar issue in an interview with Quartz, in which the 35-year-old entrepreneur addressed the question: What's the biggest threat facing men in America?

"Ourselves," Onhanian said. "Speaking broadly: We're unhealthy mentally and physically. We're insecure, and we've created a broken system that we're going to have to acknowledge we can't fix alone."

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