The diabolical murder of 10 people and wounding of three in a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday is rendered all the more evil by how unsurprising these mass shootings have become.
Call it racist and hateful, which it was, and a reflection of a despicable intolerance of the other. Consider as the facts emerge whether it grew out of an internet Petri dish that can mentally and emotionally fuse what is virtual with what is flesh-and-blood reality. The easy availability of military weapons and gear and their glorification complete the picture.
Mourn those killed. Learn who they were. Pray for their families and remember them.
There is no better description of this deed than political terrorism. It traces to the reactionary right that through its promoters wield big influence on the national stage. Federal investigators are considering hate crimes and domestic terrorism as charges against defendant Payton Gendron. The Buffalo district attorney has already filed murder charges.
Gendron, a white 18-year-old, traveled more than 200 miles from his home in upstate Conklin to deliberately carry out his operation in a Black neighborhood, authorities say. He arrived at the Tops Friendly Market with an assault rifle, tactical gear, and a helmet with a camera that livestreamed his actions. He’s apparently the author of a 180-page screed that describes explicit political motive — and proudly calls himself a fascist, a white supremacist and an anti-Semite.
Gendron, who surrendered at the scene of the racist carnage and has pleaded not guilty, subscribes to “replacement theory,” which isn’t a theory at all but a push for ethnic purity. The Nazis had their version. Gendron's first goal in his manifesto was to “kill as many blacks as possible.” In our current political discourse, replacement theory typically claims whites are diminished by immigrants of different races and religions, and those seeking political power or influence by frightening people say Democrats are doing this to strengthen themselves.
If this imagined cabal sounds familiar, you might have heard it from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson or any number of right-wing radio talkers — or perhaps on a QAnon website.
By Sunday, reports spread of a mass shooting in a church in Laguna Hills, California — leading to that accustomed sense of "this again" and widespread wondering about numbers and motive.
In Buffalo, Gendron will have his day in court. But the mainstream prompting of extremist acts also compels a tough prosecution. We as a nation have to confront this provocation, conscious or not, if we care at all about our future.
Add Buffalo to a list of extremist right-wing and racist and xenophobic crime scenes of recent years alongside El Paso, Pittsburgh, Charleston, New Zealand and others. Where is next? On a hideous landscape that isn't changing, all we know is that there will be a next.
MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.