Adam Lanza Shooting: National Review Blames Massacre on "Feminized Setting" at Sandy Hook School

Now that we are almost one week away from the terrible Newtown school shooting, many of us are hoping for more cogent, nuanced, and credible accounts of what happened. The National Review Online dashed those hopes Wednesday by publishing an article blaming a “feminized setting” and Newtown teachers for the attack that killed 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14.

In their roundup article from multiple sources titled “Newtown Answers,” the very first response by author Charlotte Allen states:

“There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel — the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist” — were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, seemed to have performed bravely. According to reports, she activated the school’s public-address system and also lunged at Lanza, before he shot her to death. Some of the teachers managed to save all or some of their charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms."

"But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.”

Later, she continues, saying: “Cops and everybody else encourage civilians not to try to defend themselves when they are criminally assaulted. This is stupid advice. There are things you can do. Run is one of them, because most shooters can’t hit a moving target. The other, if you are in a confined space, is throw things at the killer, or try a tackle.”

The amount of cognitive dissonance here is disgusting. Here are 8 logical fallacies in this ridiculous “answer” :

1) There was an adult male on the school premises: namely, the gunman, Adam Lanza. The indisputable fact remains that only one mass shooting since 1982 in the United States has been conducted by a woman, Jennifer San Marcos, who killed seven people in Goleta, California in 2006.

2) A male janitor “heaving his bucket” at the school would not have prevented the deaths. The gender of victims in these incidents does not appear to matter; Allen’s theoretical superjanitor is an infantile fantasy. 7 out of 12 victims in Aurora were male. In the Virginia Tech massacre, 18 of 32 deaths were males of at least college age. At Columbine, 9 of the victims were male. One was a sports coach.

3) Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers, but so are men. Even armed police are targets of mass killings. In Lakewood, Washington in 2009, Maurice Clemmons killed 3 male officers and 1 female officer . Mass shootings are always unexpected.

4) A janitor didn’t heave his bucket, but Principal Dawn Hochsprung charged at Lanza. Even if you accept the premise that the school was a “feminized setting,” how is this an example of “helpless passivity?” Allen flirts with this logical impasse briefly, then appears to simply discard it.

5) Allen asserts “male aggression can be a good thing,” but the only aggressive male at Sandy Hook was Adam Lanza. Allen disingenuously claims that “protecting the weak” is a good example of male aggression, just after applauding female teachers for evacuating students and confronting Lanza.

6) Allen wants “male teachers who had played high-school football” to confront Lanza. As previously noted, male teachers as well as sports coaches have been victims of mass shooters.

7) Allen faults “some of the huskier 12-year-old boys” for not “charging” Lanza. Not only is this blaming the children for their own fate – and we should all agree that victim-blaming is not okay – earlier in this same paragraph, she says she is happy that children were evacuated. That’s confusing, because in the next paragraph…

8) She says that police advice to evacuate rather than try to defend yourself is “stupid.” Allen goes on to suggest a “tackle” – again, just in the prior paragraph, Allen acknowledges Principal Hochsprung tried this and failed. 

Charlotte Allen is a hack. Her aspersions are not even internally logically consistent from sentence to sentence, let alone paragraph to paragraph. In her article, she blames the victims for not fighting back enough and teachers (also victims) for creating a “feminized setting,” that, even if it exists, is completely immaterial to the actual reality of what happened.

So then why is the National Review, supposed to be one of the nation’s most distinguished and intellectual conservative voices, publishing this illogical drivel? Why are they giving her prime online real estate – again, this is on the very first page – to vent her ridiculous views? 

If the National Review wants “answers” to the Newtown shootings, they should drop Allen immediately.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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