Opinion by Timothy P. Carney
A madman who describes himself as “an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist” went on a racist shooting spree in Buffalo over the weekend. He cited radical views and conspiracies he absorbed from the internet to explain his turn to mass murder.
My question: Why are so many in the legacy media and the Democratic Party intent on watering down the insane things this shooter believed?
The most likely answer is that the media want to blur any distinction between the shooter’s evil and insane views on one hand versus the typical Republican views that the media and Democrats dislike on the other.
“I wish all JEWS to HELL!” the shooter wrote. “Go back to hell where you came from DEMON!”
He went further and laid out the case that white people are being replaced. “The White race is dying out, that blacks are disproportionately killing Whites, that the average black takes $700,000 from tax-payers in their lifetime, and that the jews and elite were behind this.”
Writing about white people, he commented, “We are doomed by low birth rates and high rates of immigration.” He attacked libertarianism as “largely pioneered by Jews.”
Later, he offered a different, more pedestrian critique of mass immigration, attacking conservatives for supporting “anything to decrease the labor cost of production and line their pockets with the profits.”
His political vision, “Green nationalism,” calls for population curbs: “There is no Green future with never ending population growth,” he wrote, adding that “the ideal green world cannot exist in a world of 100 billion, 50 billion, or even 10 billion people.”
The dominant media narrative does not focus on the shooter’s atheism, isolationism, environmentalism, population-control demands, or hatred of Fox News. For most of the media, it is too much mental labor to tie those beliefs to his obvious white supremacist and antisemitic views.
So instead, they settle on an easy, lazy story: The shooter was motivated by the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. This isn’t false — it’s just that it’s a tiny part of the shooter’s foul melange of radical and bigoted views.
It’s a tidy story because the killer’s choice of targets was pretty directly attributable to the whole idea of white people being “replaced.” In this, he was much like the antisemitic shooter at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue who was very explicit about his insane beliefs. Attacking a Jewish charity called HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), that gunman had posted online that “HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.” He believed that Jews were importing foreigners who would wipe out his “people.”
Does this conspiracy theory trickle into the GOP mainstream? Yes. For example, while President Donald Trump in 2018 fanned flames about the migrant caravan heading from Central America to the U.S. border, Trump backer Matt Schlapp went on CNN, mocked the idea that the caravan was “spontaneous,” and then asked, “Who’s paying for the caravan?” before referring to George Soros as a possible culprit.
This sort of conspiracy-theorizing is common in politics. People assume something they dislike or oppose is part of a grand plan with a mastermind behind it. Both the Left and the Right do it. When it has a racial element, and the Great Replacement theory has a doubly racial element, it becomes more pernicious and lethal. Trump may have brought this foul line of thinking closer to the heart of the GOP, which is one reason the party would have been better off had he lost the general election in 2016.
But the media and the Democrats are going far beyond saying Trump brought the Great Replacement theory closer to the GOP mainstream. They are deliberately watering down what the Buffalo shooter believed in order to make it sound more like regular old right-of-center politics: “The manifesto,” as the Reporter Times describes it, “focuses on the great replacement theory. The theory claims that Democrats favor migrants from the other countries for votes while deliberately outnumbering whites in the U.S.”
That Democrats favor greater numbers of immigrants and see an electoral advantage in it is not in any published quotation from the Buffalo shooter nor is it a racist statement or a conspiracy theory. It may be an unfair implication of Democrats’ motives, but that’s typical politics.
Why would the news media try to water down the crazed shooter’s racist conspiracy theory in order to make it sound kind of normal? Because they want to broaden the definition of the Great Replacement to include as many Republican views as they can. They are explicit about this:
What is GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik’s supposed venture into the Great Replacement theory?
“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington,” her ads say.
That’s laughably over-the-top political rhetoric, which makes it no different in tone from stuff the average liberal columnist puts out every day. But there’s no white genocide talk here — no culpable Jews and nothing explicitly racial or ethnic. There’s immigration and electoral politics. Those topics touch on race and ethnicity, but if we’re going to brand every restrictionist immigration policy as racist, we’re basically declaring immigration debates off limits, and that just won’t work.
Trying to blur the lines between a crazed racist’s crazed, racist views and a partisan Republican’s partisan, restrictionist immigration views is not something you would do if you really cared about battling racism. Lumping mainstream Republican politicking with racist extremism might convince a few lazy journalists to treat all Republicans as racist, but it will also convince a lot of centrists that the “racist” label is meaningless because everyone gets called “racist.”