Buffalo shooter not a lone wolf: How mainstream racial discourse nurtures White domestic terrorists
“We don’t want to be protected after the fact. We want to be protected and treated like we matter without it taking a white supremacist shooting up our community.Time and time again they’ve shown nobody cares about us here. It’s a pattern.” – Marlene Brown, 58-year-old Buffalo resident
“People are going to try to excuse it as this person not being from Buffalo, they’ll say things like ‘This is not who we are.’ I just want to be clear that this is exactly who Buffalo is. It doesn’t matter that we have a Black mayor. This is still a place of anti-Black racism.” – J Coley, a Ph.D. student and instructor in the University at Buffalo
The world just witnessed another horrific white supremacist mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, New York. Ten Blacks were killed in the attack at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, three other people were injured. Altogether 11 of the 13 people shot were Black. Once again we are seeing the ugly head of white supremacy rise up and strike out in a violent way. These attacks have become commonplace and the nation sleeps well at night, ignoring the persistent threat. I tire of writing about this same topic.
When these attacks happen here in the U.S. and oversees, they get a lot of attention, which is one of the primary aims of those hate filled men committing these acts. Once again the shooting was live-streamed, this time on Twitch. This killer basically tried to replicate the incident in Christchurch, New Zealand just three years ago.
“On Saturday afternoon an anonymous user on the online forum 4chan wrote, ‘just 20 mins ago I just witnessed a mass shooting at a tops supermarket live on twitch with like 20 other viewers.’” – CNN
These people don’t just want to murder innocent people, they want to gain fame by sharing the videos of the incidents with other depraved members of their circle of degenerates. The 4chan website is one of their vehicles of choice for sharing the videos. While Twitch removed the video quickly, those on 4chan were busy spreading the video.
“Immediately following the Buffalo shooting, some users on 4chan did not discuss the horrific loss of human life but instead shared methods for reuploading the shooting video so it could be seen by more people.” – CNN
Much like lynching witnesses back in the day wanted souvenirs like body parts, pieces of the lynching rope, photographs and postcards of the lynchings, these modern day racists want to have watch parties with their friends viewing these videos over and over again.
I visited Charleston, South Carolina a number of years ago on the anniversary of the murder in 2015 of nine Black members of Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by a 21-year-old White male who was an avowed white supremacist. Ironically, I was in Charleston presenting at a lynching conference.
The massacres in Buffalo and Charleston had three things in common, the shooters were both young White males; both of them had ties to white supremacy ideologies; and both espoused ideas directly related to the so-called “replacement conspiracy theory.”
As I travel around the country talking about race, racism and the ties to both in American history, I have been told on numerous occasions that the greatest fear White people have is losing their status as being a majority of the residents of this country.
The U.S. Census Bureau has projected that by the year 2045 Whites will be less than fifty percent of the population for the first time ever. The White population declined by 8.6% from 2010-2020, the first decade in the nation’s history that a decline among Whites has ever happened. The shift in demographics is happening quickly. In 1980 Whites were about 80% of the population in the country. By 2010 that number was down to 72.4% and the 2020 census showed that Whites were just 61.6% of the population.
The causes of the demographic shift are related to the fact that Whites are the oldest group of Americans and has the smallest percentage of women of childbearing age of any group. Whites are having less children than at any time in their history in this country. Meanwhile other groups are younger and have more young women who will continue to have children. More than half of all children in the U.S. one years old and less are children of color today. That will not change.
These factors are becoming abundantly clear and have been politicized by those on the right. Their talking points about immigration try to mask the fear of demographic shifts. While running for president, Donald Trump called Mexicans “rapists” and criminals. While in office he placed a ban on Muslim immigrants that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. As president he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “sh**hole countries. During a meeting at the White House were he made these remarks he also said, “Why do we need more Haitians, take them out.” Trump also warned fellow Republicans they “have to be very, very careful” on the issue of immigrants.
“Because you could say that to a certain extent, the odds aren’t looking so great right now for Republicans. That you’re on a suicide mission. You’re just not going to get those votes … Now I say to myself, ‘Why aren’t we letting people in from Europe?’ I have many friends, many, many friends – and nobody wants to talk this, nobody wants to say it – many friends from Europe.”
There is a fear among many Whites that they will lose power, prestige and many other things that they have taken for granted.
In 1916 eugenics supporter Madison Grant wrote a racist diatribe, The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History, where he claimed so-called Nordics were the superior race on Earth and should protect themselves from the “undesirables” and “worthless race types.” Eugenics was a pseudoscience espoused by scholars in some of Europe and America’s top universities. The explicit goal of the movement was to eliminate undesirable genetic traits in the human race through selective breeding. The principle would be fawned over by Adolph Hitler, but would also become one of the foundational principles believed and spread by white supremacists in the United States.
The “replacement theory” claims that White people are intentionally being replaced by people of color in the U.S. and Europe as part of an international Jewish conspiracy. The idea comes from French author, Renaud Camus. He coined the phrase “the great replacement” in 2012. His writings about so-called White genocide spread quickly in white supremacists circles. Now there are clear signs that the rhetoric of fear has become mainstream here and around the world according to the Washington Post.
“The phrase was coined in 2012 by the French author Renaud Camus, whose writing on white genocide echoes at least a century of white supremacist views. But some experts now fear the doctrine of replacement is being embraced more readily by lone wolf white terrorists and even some politicians, producing a particularly dangerous climate. ‘These series of shootings all have an element of fear and anxiety created by this concept of being replaced,’ said Oren Segal, the director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. ‘When you think your race is going to go extinct, you will do anything to protect that.’”
The main purveyor of the mainstream talking points aligned with this theory is the most popular news network in the country, Fox News. More specifically, Tucker Carlson has made a name for himself by selling the idea. The NY Times examined 1,150 episodes of his show and came to a not so surprising conclusion. “Night after night, the most-watched show in prime-time cable news uses a simple narrative to instill fear in his viewers: ‘They want to control and then destroy you.’” They say that Carlson has picked up the mantle from Donald Trump and continues to use fear to drive ratings.
“It’s been gradually moving from the fringes into the mainstream. First it was the entertainment wing of the GOP. Now it’s the political wing as well.” – Philip Gorski, Yale professor
“The revolution has begun. A silent revolution by the Democrat Party and Joe Biden to take over the country … (if) every one of them has two or three children, you’re talking about millions and millions and millions of new voters. Who do you think they are going to vote for? So this is trying to take over our country without firing a shot.”
The power Carlson has is to use his platform to spread this racist creed by seemingly making it non-racialized using familiar dogwhistle language. Nicole Hemmer, a historian at Columbia University told the New York Times, “Someone like Carlson can introduce viewers to ideas that they then explore more fully online, searches that lead them into far-right spaces that either reinforce their existing views or radicalize them.
But someone like Carlson is also important because he legitimates those ideas, making them seem less radical when viewers see them.” In September 2021 Carlson ranted that President Biden was encouraging immigration “to change the racial mix of the country, … to reduce the political power of people whose ancestors lived here, and dramatically increase the proportion of Americans newly arrived from the Third World.”
These racist comments hidden in so-called conversations about politics, have been a part of the basic fabric of Fox News for years. From Ann Coulter to Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Jeanine Pirro and Carlson, these messages have been spread to millions of Fox News viewers. They can deny ties to these horrific murders, but they appear to be part of the apparatus spreading this hate.
That does not mean they are directly responsible for the murders. However, it reminds me of the Ku Klux Klan supporters back in the day, that enraged the White community leading up to spectacle lynchings. They may not have been directly responsible for the lynchings but they were the spark the led to the incendiary violence witnessed by thousands.
During a racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, led by white supremacists from around the country, marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us.” The following day a 20-year-old White male drove into a crowd of counter-protestors killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring another 35 people.
The 46-year-old White man who killed 11 and wounded six in the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 wrote on social media just before the attack that the refugee agency HIAS “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
The four page screed written by the 21-year-old White man who killed 23 people and injured another 23 in the largest attack on Latino’s in modern history at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas in August 2019 included words about “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
In March 2019 a 28-year-old White man attacked two separate mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand killing 51 people and injuring 40. He wrote a document using the exact same title as Mr. Camus’s book, “The Great Replacement,” before he went on his rampage.
The shooter in Buffalo, an 18-year-old White man, talked about “racial replacement” and “white genocide” in the 180 page document he wrote prior to the attack. He also claimed to be inspired by the Christchurch attacker.
“The killer says in his document that he was inspired by the March 15 Mosque killer. It has become a trend for terrorists, in particular white supremacist killers, to issue these kinds of publications to encourage others to follow their lead.” – Rupert Ablett-Hampson, New Zealand Acting Chief Censor
He also criticized progressives, claiming they had succeeded in “teaching white children to hate themselves,” the same rhetoric used by those attacking the teaching of honest history in our schools.
Just as Whites feared “race-mixing” and “mongrelization” in the years after the Brown V. Board of Education desegregation order in 1954, the mindset of fear and hate is still alive and well today.
If America was to put as many resources into fighting this type of home grown terrorism, events like the one in Buffalo could have been prevented. A refusal to call violent white supremacists and their supporters terrorists, shows the hypocrisy of the so-called War on Terrorism. Just like the government went after anyone supporting what they call Islamic terrorism, they should have the same mindset about these domestic terrorists.