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Racist Buffalo shooting sparks partisan warfare and media blame game


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It was pure evil, driven by despicable racism and shrouded in pure anti-Semitism.

The suspect in the Buffalo supermarket shooting is a sick and twisted individual who allegedly set out to kill as many black people as possible. The murder of 10 people is an indescribable tragedy for their families, for the city (where I went to college) and for our country.

But how much attention do we want to give to the alleged gunman (whom I am not naming here, as is my usual practice) when that is precisely what he craved, as evidenced by his live broadcast of the massacre?

A crowd gathers as police investigate after a supermarket shooting Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, NY Several people were shot dead at Tops Friendly Market. Police have informed the public that the alleged shooter is in custody.
(AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

There are bigger issues to debate here, but personally I have little interest in “understanding” someone crazy enough to open fire in a crowded place, which has unfortunately become far too common. Just a month ago, a black nationalist started shooting at a Brooklyn subway car, injuring more than 20 people, and a day after the Buffalo shooting, another man started shooting at a California church, killing one person and wounding four before the parishioners attacked him. .

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After every mass shooting, there’s a brief moment where people left and right wait to see what the killer’s motivation is, then rush to score political points based on the outcome.

If the assailant turns out to be a liberal — as in the GOP Congressional baseball practice shooting in Virginia, by a Bernie Sanders supporter who loved Rachel Maddow’s show — then conservatives blame left-wing philosophy. When a mental patient injured Gabby Giffords and killed six people in Arizona, liberals (and later the New York Times) unfairly blamed Sarah Palin for a political map with a crosshair in Democratic districts – despite it being turned out that the killer had never even seen the map.

In Buffalo’s case, we don’t have to guess. The 180-page screed shows the 18-year-old suspect to be a staunch supporter of the ‘replacement theory’, the conspiratorial idea that immigrants are brought to America to reduce the white majority and its influence – a plan supposedly orchestrated by the Jews.

Among the lopsided rants: Jews “must be called out and killed. I wish all JEWS go to HELL! Go back to hell where you came from DEMON!”

The suspect openly admires the mass shooter who embraced the replacement theory and killed 51 people three years ago at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Now, ever since a few voices spoke about the replacement theory on Fox News, there have been both reports and heated comments saying that… it’s Fox’s fault! Never mind that no one on Fox advocated political violence. Never mind that, as The New York Times acknowledged in a story about conservative media, we have no idea if the suspect ever watched Fox.

Racist Buffalo shooting sparks partisan warfare and media blame game

Payton Gendron appears at his arraignment in Buffalo Court, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, NY Gendron has been arraigned for first degree murder and ordered to be held without bond. Police officials said the 18-year-old was wearing a bulletproof vest and military-style clothing when he stopped and opened fire on people at a Tops Friendly Market.
(Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News via AP)

It doesn’t matter that no public figure can be held responsible for what an insane person decides to do with his words. Never mind that no one blamed Maddow for the baseball shooting, like no one should have.

I am in no way minimizing the folly of the replacement theory, and of course anyone who appears on Fox or any other network, or any newspaper or website, is fair game for criticism. But to rush to say that so-and-so has “blood on his hands” – as some on the right would say of Barack Obama when a police officer was killed – is unwise.

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As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald writes on Substack:

“It is practically impossible to find an ideology on any part of the political spectrum that has not spawned senseless violence and mass murder by adherents.”

He continues: “When murders are carried out in the name of right-wing ideologies despised by the corporate press and big pundits (or ideologies they mistakenly associate with conservatism), they instantly rush to shift the blame to their opponents. conservative politicians who, despite never advocating or even implying the need for violence, are nevertheless accused of being guilty of the violence – often before anything is known about the killers or their motives.

In general, it is widely accepted that liberal pundits and politicians are not to blame, at all, when murders are perpetrated in the name of the causes they support or against the enemies they systematically condemn. This is because in such cases we apply the rational framework that someone who does not advocate violence is not responsible for the violent acts of his followers and fans who kill in the name of that person’s ideas. ”

Another point: the alleged shooter is clearly a white supremacist, racist and anti-Semitic. But in his rant, as Greenwald notes, he describes himself as a “leftist authoritarian,” a staunch environmentalist and critic of corporate profits who argues that “conservatism is corporatism in disguise.”

The right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page warned that “supporters are already using the massacre to draw broader political conclusions, as they always do. There is no doubt that a racist subculture exists in America and spread on social networks”. and media personalities have an obligation to condemn it and conspiratorial notions such as the “white replacement theory”. ” OK.

Which brings us to the issue of firearms. The suspect legally purchased a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and then modified it to carry additional ammunition.

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Turns out when he was in high school last year, police arrested the suspect under a New York mental health law after he said he wanted to commit murder/suicide . He underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was promptly released. State police maintain they had no reason to detain him because he made no specific threat.

According to the Journal: “He fits the profile of other young men who become mass shooters at an age when mental illness often strikes. Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill is not easy, but it is a form of gun control that does good.”

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This is extremely difficult to achieve, but it is a goal that even opponents of gun control should embrace.

In the meantime, fewer partisan accusations and a greater focus on combating the scourge of mass shootings would be welcome.

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