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How the Buffalo Suspect’s Hate Propaganda Connects Black Americans and Jews


The news alerts arriving from Buffalo, New York, on Saturday all had a revolting familiarity. An 18-year-old man who espoused white nationalist views was suspected of breaking into the local Tops grocery store and unloading his gun on the mostly black shoppers, killing 10 people and injuring several others. Police said the barrel of the suspect’s gun was emblazoned with a racial slur. Following similar shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand; Pittsburgh; Poway, California; and so many other cities, the 180-page document allegedly written by the suspect was as predictable as it was detestable. This was especially true of one of the most powerful narratives that run through the ignorant, angry document: a hatred of Jews.

In these theories of white dominance, racial hierarchies, and modern “degeneracy,” Jews are an essential piece of the doomsday conspiracy puzzle.

Shooting Tops was clearly an act of anti-Blackness. But it is noteworthy that anti-Semitism often acts as the ideological center of white nationalist rhetoric, the force that transforms racist rage into semi-organized global theory. In the feverish imagination of these racist fascists, Jews rule the world as a secretive, cabalistic elite, and they use non-whites as a weapon to destroy the white gentile population. In these theories of white dominance, racial hierarchies, and modern “degeneracy,” Jews are an essential piece of the doomsday conspiracy puzzle. Because, as writers like Eric Ward have illustrated, the neo-Nazi belief that white people are being destroyed requires a supposedly intelligent and powerful puppeteer.

While Jews were a significant part of the document, they were not the target of the gunman’s violence, just as they were not targeted during the Christchurch massacre or the 2019 shootings in El Paso, Texas. Even when Jews are not targets of violence, anti-Semitism can help motivate white nationalist violence against communities of color and immigrants.

As Dan Berger, a professor at the University of Washington Bothell, explained about Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, anti-Semitism played a central role in the growth of the American far right, except that the Jews are not the main victims. Conspiracy theories about the likes of George Soros, dark elites, and satanic pedophile cabals (as found in the QAnon theory) follow the ideological legacy of earlier anti-Semitic theories like blood libel and anti-Semitic counterfeiting “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.

The “Great Replacement Theory” is quickly becoming one of the deadliest contemporary theories, having been cited in multiple mass shootings. In its most extreme iterations, the theory alleges that a shadowy group of elites are increasing the immigration of non-white people in an effort to “replace” ethnic whites in the United States (although conservatives are as common as Congressmen and Fox News host Tucker Carlson have referred to this theory in various ways, it is really just the most polite version of what has become known as “genocide” propaganda. White”.)

When these conspiracy theories — which alternate between coded and explicit references to Jews — aren’t used to justify murder, they can be found at the root of many of the right’s most ridiculous talking points. The LGBTQ movement, especially recent anti-trans activism, is being maligned as the pawns of these corrupt oligarchs who seek to destroy our traditional ways of life. Critical race theory is dismissed as merely a “cultural Marxist” threat designed to undermine national pride. Migrant caravans are funded by Soros so the Democrats can take over our country. Our election was stolen by secret elites, our wildfires caused by the Rothschilds, our children assaulted by drug-fueled blood drinkers.

Here we see very clearly exposed the intersections between the different types of racism and bigotry, and how one is usually not far behind the other. In Portland, Oregon recently, two synagogues were vandalized, one with “Die Juden” scrawled on the side. Nearby, the same person is accused of spraying the side of a mosque with an accelerant before lighting a flame.

Obviously, the anti-Semitism in the reported Buffalo document should not divert our attention from anti-Blackness, which is also a fundamental part of America’s white nationalist heritage. Rather, it should talk about the importance of intercultural solidarity: the only way to build a culture of safety is to see racism, oppression and violence as permanently linked. This gives us all a stake in the fight against the twin social diseases of anti-Semitism and racism.

While anti-Semitic and racist conspiracy theories have always lurked on the fringes of right-wing politics, changes within the Republican Party are allowing them to become a central tenet.

While anti-Semitic and racist conspiracy theories have always lurked on the fringes of right-wing politics, changes within the Republican Party are allowing them to become a central tenet of the new conservative political and media coalition.

Politicians like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have brought anti-Semitic and QAnon conspiracy theories to Washington, while lawmakers like Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona and Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers are addressing at conferences led by white nationalists. And as mentioned earlier, Tucker Carlson became the most popular talk show on cable by repackaging white genocide conspiracy theories and helping to instill this pernicious worldview in the electorate.

Anti-Semitism acts as the juncture of these ideas, the force that gives it coherence and drives the racists in the midst to pick up a gun and take desperate measures.

The far right hopes to construct its white genocide conspiracy theory as a totalizing narrative about the world and use it as a battering ram against all marginalized people. But we can fight back.

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