Racist Buffalo shooting sparks partisan warfare, media blame game

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It was pure evil, motivated by despicable racism and wrapped in sheer anti-Semitism. The suspect in the massacre at Buffalo’s supermarket is a sickly twisted individual who allegedly wanted to kill as many black people possible. The murder of 10 people is an unspeakable tragedy for their families, for the city (where I went to college) and for our country. But how much attention should we pay to the alleged shooter (whom I am not naming here as it is my custom) when that is exactly what he wanted, as shown by his live-streaming of the massacre?

A crowd gathers as police investigate after a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Multiple people were shot at the Tops Friendly Market. Police have notified the public that the alleged shooter was in custody.

A crowd gathers as police investigate after a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Multiple people were shot at Tops Friendly Market. The public was informed by police that the suspect shooter is in custody.
(AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

There are some larger issues to debate here, but personally I have little interest in “understanding” anyone crazy enough to open fire in a crowded place, which sadly has become far too common. It was only a month ago that a black nationalist started shooting up a Brooklyn subway car, wounding more than 20, and a day after the Buffalo shooting, another man started firing in a California church, killing one person and wounding four before parishioners tackled him.

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After each mass shooting, there is a brief moment where people on the left and the right wait to see what the killer’s motivation is, then rush to score political points depending on the outcome. If the assailant turns out to be a liberal, such as at the GOP congressional practice shooting in Virginia by a Bernie Sanders fan who loved Rachel Maddow’s program, conservatives will blame left-wing philosophy. A mentally ill man injured Gabby Giffords and then killed six people in Arizona, liberals (and later The New York Times) unfairly blamed Sarah Palin because she had drawn a map of the country with crosshairs in Democratic areas. But it turned out that the killer had never seen the map. In the Buffalo case, it’s not necessary to guess. The 180-page screed shows the 18-year-old suspect is an ardent believer in “replacement theory,” the conspiratorial idea that immigrants are being brought to America to shrink the white majority and its influence – a supposed scheme masterminded by the Jews.

Among the unhinged rants is that Jews “must not be called out and murdered.” I wish all JEWS HELL! Go back to hell, where you came from DEMON! “

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

Now that a few voices have spoken about replacement theory on Fox News there has been heated reporting and commentary about how Fox is to blame. It doesn’t matter that no one at Fox has advocated for political violence. We don’t know if the suspect has ever watched Fox, which is what the New York Times stated in its story on conservative media.

Payton Gendron appears during his arraignment in Buffalo City Court, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Gendron was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and ordered detained without bail. Police officials said the 18-year-old was wearing body armor and military-style clothing when he pulled up and opened fire at people at a Tops Friendly Market. 

Payton Gendron appears during his arraignment in Buffalo City Court, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Gendron was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and ordered detained without bail. Police officials said the 18-year-old was wearing body armor and military-style clothing when he pulled up and opened fire at people at a Tops Friendly Market.
(Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News via AP)

Never mind that no public figure can be held responsible for what an insane person decides to do with their words. Maddow was not to blame for the shooting of the baseball bats, which is a shame.

I’m in no way minimizing the nuttiness of replacement theory, and of course anyone who appears on Fox or any other network, or in any newspaper or website, is fair game for criticism. It is reckless to claim that so-and-so “has blood on his hands” as some would say about Barack Obama after a police officer was shot and killed.

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

“It is virtually impossible to find any ideology on any part of the political spectrum that has not spawned senseless violence and mass murder by adherents. He continued: “When killings take place in the name right-wing ideologies discredited by the corporate media and mainstream pundits (or ideologies they falsely associate to conservatism), they immediately jump to blame their conservative political opponents. These people are often accused of being guilty of the violence, often before any information is known about the killers’ motives.

In general, it is widely understood that liberal pundits and politicians are not to blame, at all, when murders are carried out in the name of the causes they support or against the enemies they routinely condemn. This is because we can apply the rational framework that a person who doesn’t advocate violence is not responsible to the violent acts of those who follow his or her lead.

Another point: The alleged shooter is clearly white supremacist and racist. But in his diatribe, as Greenwald notes, he describes himself as a “left-wing authoritarian,” a strong environmentalist and a critic of corporate profits who argues that “conservatism is corporatism in disguise. “

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, from the right, warned that “partisans are already using the massacre to leap to broader political conclusions, as they always do. It is clear that America has a racist subculture. This subculture is widely spread via social media. It is incumbent upon media and politicians to condemn it, as well as conspiratorial notions like “white replacement theory.”

This brings us to the issue of guns. The suspect purchased a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle legally and modified it to carry more ammunition.

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Turns out that when he was in high school last year, police took the suspect into custody under a New York mental health law after he said he wanted to commit a murder/suicide. He was quickly released after a psychiatric evaluation. The state police claim they didn’t have any grounds to detain him as he had not made any specific threats.

Says The Journal: “He fits in the profile of other young men that become mass shooters at a time when mental illness is often a factor. It’s not easy to keep guns out of the hands mentally ill, but it’s one way of gun control that could do some good. “

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That’s exceedingly difficult to carry out, but it’s a goal that even gun-control opponents should embrace. In the meantime, it would be nice to see less partisan finger-pointing and more focus on reducing the number of mass shootings.

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