The Buffalo mass shooting

great replacement theory

This is actually a photo of flowers after a Colorado shooting, which tells you all you need to know.

If I were to mention every example of gun violence involving multiple victims in America, this blog would not only be really depressing but also quite monotonous. It’d be, as blogger buddy Chuck Miller mentioned, The Vicious Cycle.

Heck, before I could even write about the Buffalo mass shooting, one was killed and four critically wounded at a Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, CA, likely motivated by political hatred of the Taiwanese community.

Though I heartily support it, I’m unenthused about calls for gun control. If America isn’t going to respond to 20 six and seven-year-olds murdered at school almost a decade ago, I can’t see it happening in this circumstance, I’m afraid.

It IS peculiar that a teenager who threatened a school graduation shooting last year and was given psychiatric treatment, could still purchase three guns legally.

Broome County, NY

So the Buffalo incident compelled me to note it. Certainly, the fact that the shooter* came from my home county, Broome County, NY in Conklin, just a few miles southeast of my hometown of Binghamton, is a huge factor. There’s just a smidgen of irrational personal mortification.

And the other thing is that the shooter drove 200 miles (322 km), three and a half hours, to find a bunch of Black people** to shoot. He, or someone in his circle, did a demographic dive to ascertain that the ZIP Code where that TOPS grocery store had the highest concentration of Black folks within a reasonable driving distance.

WIVB-TV reports that the name of the gunman matches the one “given in a 180-page manifesto that surfaced online shortly after the attack and took credit for the violence in the name of white supremacy… The excruciating detail provided leaves little doubt of its authenticity.”

Yahoo News and other sources note that the manifesto “repeatedly cited the ‘great replacement’ theory, the false idea that a cabal is attempting to replace white Americans with nonwhite people through immigration, interracial marriage, and, eventually, violence…

“In the manifesto, [he] claims that he was radicalized on 4chan while he was ‘bored’ at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. The document also claims ‘critical race theory,’ a recent right-wing talking point that has come to generally encompass teaching about race in school, is part of a Jewish plot, and a reason to justify mass killings of Jews…”

Crazy?

I came across this frustrating conversation about whether the shooter is “crazy.” “Someone must be crazy to do something like that, right?” “If he’s crazy, he’ll use that as his defense.”

The Weekly Sift guy actually addressed this back in 2019 when another shooter targeted Hispanics at a Walmart in El Paso. “His actions made perfect sense if you took seriously what Trump had been saying over and over: Mexicans are invading our country. If your country is being invaded, isn’t the most obvious response to take military gear to the border and kill the invaders? What’s mentally ill about that?”

The same thing [in Buffalo. The shooter] “has been told time and again that there’s a plot to take America away from the white race, and that this plot will eventually result in racial extinction. If he believes that, what’s the logical response?”

Recognizing the dog whistle

“High-profile people like Trump, Tucker Carlson, and Elise Stefanik may not explicitly tell people to go out and kill Blacks or Hispanics or Jews, but how does anything less deal with the problem they describe?” WS describes the replacement theory much more fully here.

Carlson’s defenders point out that the shooter’s manifesto included no mentions of the FOX commentator, as though that takes him off the hook. Also, the document attacked 21st Century Fox for hiring Jewish people. Whatever.  It’s standard Vulpine gaslighting.

Stefanik is the Congressperson in a distinct adjacent to my own, and the third-ranked Republican in the House of Representatives. My
local newspaper notes that she and “other prominent Republicans made statements critics say align with theory.” She denies it, of course.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) warns that the Replacement Theory is ‘Getting People Killed.’ “Kinzinger, a staunch critic of former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly slammed [House minority leader Kevin] McCarthy (R-CA), Stefanik, [Marjorie Taylor] Greene (R-GA), and [Madison] Cawthorn (R-NC) in recent months.”

Liz Cheney (R-WY) has said the GOP leadership has “enabled white supremacy.” As Rolling Stone noted, The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican.

Ahistoric Americans

Just as some people celebrate “representation” and “diversity”, others see a zero-sum game where white people lose out. The targeting of Asian-Americans and Jews and LGBTQ folk – do I need to document those recent mass shootings? – breaks my heart over and over. This is even though, as Carolyn Gallaher wrote in The Hill after the Walmart shootings, The alternate history behind the ‘great replacement’ theory is simply wrong.

This is one of the reasons I fear Kelly, who is a Buffalo-area blogger, may be right. “It’s an entire community of human beings, specifically targeted again. Reminded that they will always be targeted, again. Reminded of this country’s long ghastly history of this stuff, again. Confronted by our nation’s abject refusal to admit its past and atone, again…

“No horror, no injustice, no violent outcome is ever enough for us to collectively say, ‘No more.’ ‘We will be back about our business by, oh, I don’t know. Dinner time today, I guess…

“We are the country we have chosen to be, and I see no reason to believe we are going to choose to be anything other than this.

“And that is how America will fade into history.” America, prove him wrong if you can. Give us more than “thoughts and prayers.” Show that love actually DOES conquer hate.

*or the alleged shooter, if you prefer
** I capitalize Black people here, which I don’t always do, because of some scold in the comments to this post

Lydster: talking about school shootings

January 17, 1989, in Stockton, California

Active Shooter DrillsAt the end of the summer, my daughter was waiting for her friends, who were late. She calls me at home, and she brings up the subject of school shootings.

She wanted to know if I had to think about these things growing up. Heck, no, but I’m better than a half-century older than she is. This got me to look up the Wikipedia page for List of school shootings in the United States. Ah, such a convenient tracking of carnage.

There were shootings back in the 19th century, but most involved zero to two casualties. An exception took place on March 30, 1891, in Liberty, Mississippi when “an unknown gunman fired a double-barreled shotgun into the mixed audience, made up of black and white students, parents and teachers. Fourteen people were wounded, some seriously.”

Six were killed in a melee in Charleston, West Virginia on December 13, 1898. I’ve written about the 1966 University of Texas shooting, the first crime of its sort that I remembered.

20th century

Hmm, they counted Kent State and Jackson State from 1970. I have no recollection of the December 30, 1974, Olean (NY) shooting that killed 3 and injured 11.

The worst shooting in the 1980s was on January 17, 1989, in Stockton, California. A 24-year-old fatally shot five children and wounded 32 others at an elementary school, before taking his own life. “The victims were children of refugees from Southeast Asia.” The shooter “had a history of violence, alcoholism, and drug addiction, and criminality.”

Then April 20, 1999: Littleton, Colorado, with 15 dead, including the two shooters, 21 wounded. I had to admit to my daughter that I had managed to forget the March 21, 2005 incident at Red Lake, Minnesota, where five students, one teacher, and one security guard were killed, wounding seven others, after the shooter previously killed a couple of relatives.

I do remember the guy who killed five Amish girls in Pennsylvania in 2006. The Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 made the international news. Then Newtown, CT; Parkland, FL; Santa Fe, TX. I remember that my daughter was particularly upset by Santa Fe after she and her classmates protested following Parkland.

How stressful her life, and the lives of her friends, must be. She so related to the disturbing Sandy Hook Promise ad here or here or here.

We had duck and cover, but I don’t think we took it too seriously. They have active shooter drills, and they have reason to believe it COULD happen “here.”

Heller ruling on 2nd Amendment: legerdemain

“To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn, welcome to the revolution.”

I finished reading The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis (2015). The title refers to George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. More about the book in the future.

In reading the footnotes – what a nerd! -one jumped out at me. “…for judicial devotees of the ‘original intent’ doctrine” – what DID the Founders mean? – “Madison’s motives” in crafting what became the Second Amendment to the Constitution “are clear beyond any doubt.”

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

“To wit, the right to bear arms derived from the needs to make state militias the core pillar of national defense” rather than a professional, federal army, which skeptics of federalism feared as threats to small-r republican values. .

“To avoid reaching that conclusion, the [Supreme Court] majority opinion in Heller [v. District of Columbia, 2008], written by Justice Antonin Scalia, is an elegant example of legalistic legerdemain masquerading as erudition. Madison is rolling over in his grave.”

Those not familiar with the fancy noun, it means 1. sleight of hand 2. trickery; deception 3. any artful trick.

In other words, the suggestion that Scalia’s argument is originalist is pure hokum. The Supreme Court had made only a couple rulings over two centuries on that amendment and, it would seem, got it wrong the second time.

In making this ruling, SCOTUS has empowered folks, including some in the powerful National Rifle Association, to argue that ANY limitation on gun ownership is unconstitutional. If the First Amendment can be proscribed – no yelling “fire” in a crowded theater unless there are actually flames – surely the Second can be also.

My wife and I were watching NBC Nightly News on March 24, the day of March for Our Lives rallies all over the world. One of the early stories was Museums across the nation work to archive mementos of grief left after shootings. There is actually a protocol for collecting those items left after mass murders! “Jeff Schwartz of the Parkland [Florida] Historical Society is relying on advice from… curators across the country — from Columbine, Colorado, to Charleston, South Carolina — who have all faced such situations.” We both wept.

So I’m not all that concerned about the “crass ageism” of some of the survivors. The Parkland kids, as of March 24, had been in the media spotlight 39 days, still grieving. I cut them a LOT of slack. “To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn, welcome to the revolution,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky told the throngs in DC. “Either represent the people or get out. Stand for us or beware.”

I don’t know what the change in the gun culture will be, but I remain cautiously optimistic, because I have to be.

From The Doors:
The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer
They got the guns
But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah
We’re takin’ over
Come on!

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