Last week after the mass shooting in Gilroy, California, Alexandra Petri wrote a gut-wrenching column that I heartily recommend. It is first-rate writing. But I just want to call out this little bit:
Imagine being careless enough and cruel enough to allow someone to punch such holes in the world deliberately, repeatedly, in the name of a lie. The lie is that we have no choice in this matter. The lie is that any effort, however common-sense, to restrict firearms or lower the capacity of magazines, is part of a vicious scheme to strip you of your freedoms. The lie is that this imaginary, vast conspiracy is more to be feared than these deaths that occur so frequently that we are almost out of synonyms for “horror.” How do you tell someone he is a sacrifice worth making to preserve this lie? How do you tell a child?
So the Republicans are already mouthing pious things about God and whatever, and you know they will not do a damn thing about gun violence and the threat of right-wing domestic terrorism. Indeed, the first instincts of wingnuts is to misdirect —
Authorities hadn’t even released the official number of dead and wounded from a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart on Saturday when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick began complaining on Fox News about Antifa.
I am not aware that antifa is responsible for even one death in the U.S., although I acknowledge they’ve probably broken some windows. But never fear, Texas Republicans are on top of what needs to be done!
Texas Republicans have been steadfastly avoiding the topic of gun control in the wake of the El Paso shooting on Saturday that left 20 people dead, instead placing the blame on mental health, video games, and even lack of school prayer.
“I think we need to focus more on memorials before we start the politics,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told reporters on Saturday when asked about his stance on gun legislation.
Did you know that 4 of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history havetaken place in Texas? The shooters were Devin Patrick Kelley (2017, 25 dead, Sutherland Springs); George Hennard (1991, 23 dead, Killeen), Charles Whitman (1966, 18 dead, University of Texas), and the alleged shooter at the El Paso WalMart was Patrick Crusius (20 dead, so far). All white men. The Sutherland Springs shooting was in a church; I assume they prayed there. Didn’t stop the bullets.
Wingnuts are telling each other that Crusius is a Latino name, but I checked — although it looks sort of Latin, it’s mostly found in Germany. Notable people with the name Crusius include Christian August Crusius (1715–1775), German philosopher and Protestant theologian; Ludwig Friedrich Otto Baumgarten-Crusius (1788–1843), German Protestant theoloian; and Otto Crusius (1857–1918), German classical scholar.
I have not read the alleged shooter’s manifesto, and I wouldn’t link to it if I had. Josh Marshall has read it and makes some interesting points:
There’s abundant evidence the shooter is a big fan of President Trump and certainly of his worldview. And yet the manifesto includes a sort of preemptive rebuttal of any claims that he is a Trump supporter or that Trump influenced. He predicts that “the media” will identify him as a white supremacist and blame President Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric for radicalizing him and provoking the attack. Such claims would be “fake news” and such claims will indeed only prove that “the media” is “fake news.”
After these horrors, we expect rightwing talking heads to attack any suggestion that these attacks might be related to the President’s politics and rhetoric. But here the assailant is doing so himself in advance. Indeed he denies Trump’s influence by using Trump’s signature attack lines. For someone who specifically denies Trump radicalized him, he’s very focused protecting the President. He doth protest rather too much.
We don’t yet know enough about yesterday’s Dayton, Ohio, shooting to know if it fits the white supremacist pattern. The alleged shooter’s name was Connor Betts; his sister was among the nine killed, suggesting the motivation might have been more personal than political. But Andrew Marantz points out at The New Yorker that most recent mass shooters seem to have been radicalized in the same way.
Each killer, in the moment, may have acted alone, but they all appear to have been zealous converts to the same ideology: a paranoid snarl of raw anger, radical nationalism, unhinged nihilism, and fears of “white genocide” that is still referred to as “fringe,” although it’s creeping precariously close to the mainstream. On many social networks that bill themselves as bulwarks of “free speech,” including Gab, 4chan, and 8chan, this way of thinking is so dominant that it is often taken for granted. In April, the Anti-Defamation League wrote that such platforms “serve as round-the-clock white supremacist rallies.”
Would it help if these platforms were shutdown? Could the platforms be shut down? This is a point Marantz addresses; the answer is, probably not. And if they were, would not other platforms spring up in their place?
White supremacy has been hardwired into American culture as soon as Europeans began moving here. The whole rise of Trump and right-wing domestic terrorism might be interpreted as the fight of a wounded animal, or white supremacy’s last hoorah. We have reached a moment in our culture in which white supremacy really isn’t acceptable any more. This is not to say that systemic racism isn’t still in place, or that racial equality finally reigns o’er the land. But for those pathetic losers — who have always been among us — who take their pride and identity and self-worth from nothing but their whiteness, our culture is, finally, beginning to deny them that. And in their own minds they have no where else to go.
Update: I just noticed that this post is getting a big influx of traffic, I assume from some right-wing site. Please read the commenting rules before posting comments.