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This is a special newsletter focused on the white nationalism behind the recent massacre in Buffalo and additional racist phenomena in the United States.
Last week ended tragically with a mass murder by a white nationalist in Buffalo, New York. The shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, live-streamed the attack on a grocery store in a predominantly Black area, and police apprehended him alive.
Mass shootings are not a rarity in the U.S., and neither are hate crimes. In recent years, rightwing extremism has driven domestic terrorism to levels unseen in decades.
What the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have made very clear, and what the Trump administration did its best to cover up, is that the biggest domestic terror threat—by far—comes from white supremacists. The right’s torrent of lies about Black Lives Matter, antifa, and other left-associated movements can’t change that.
Inspired by the white nationalist who killed 51 Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, Gendron posted a lengthy manifesto online citing a version of the central white nationalist conspiracy theory called the “great replacement,” claiming that liberal elites and Jews are trying to replace the white population with Black and Brown immigrants to secure electoral dominance. While initially only circulated in obscure white nationalist circles, the “Great Replacement” theory has found a regular platform on Fox News and is now believed by one-third of American adults.
We have to repeat this terrifying reality: A third of U.S. adults subscribe to one of the primary tenets of white nationalism.
This horrific circumstance wouldn’t have happened without extremist and opportunistic politicians, rightwing media, and social media’s for-profit algorithms, all egging on the mass movement towards white nationalism and the inevitable violence that accompanies it.
One media personality, in particular, has explicitly and consistently advocated the “Great Replacement.” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, host of the second-most popular cable news show in the U.S. Carlson has told his primetime audience, over and over, that immigrants are an invading force that makes the country dirty, less safe, and fundamentally less American. Real Americans (whites) are losing their culture and, if the liberal elites get their way, will be wiped out, he has warned his millions of viewers hundreds of times. This rhetoric has earned him praise from prominent white nationalists, joyous that their racist conspiracy theory has finally reached the mainstream.
Appeals to bigotry have been a core pitch of the Republican Party since it adopted its notorious “Southern Strategy” in the 1960s. Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater pioneered the tactic to win over southern “Dixiecrats” incensed by their party’s passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
As GOP strategist Lee Atwater put it in 1974:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “n***er, n***er, n***er.” By 1968 you can’t say “n***er”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, Blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “n***er, n***er."
Today, however, the American right leaves little to the imagination.
For more on the Buffalo massacre, let’s turn to our network of independent, truth-telling news outlets.
Your Independent News Roundup
COUNTERPUNCH has a story that digs into the mainstreaming of white nationalism as a precursor to violent attacks.
STATUS COUP released a video highlighting how that mainstreaming happened, specifically focusing on Tucker Carlson’s vile rhetoric.
Meanwhile, THE LEVER’s Matthew Cunningham-Cook reflects on his own feelings about the shooting as a Black man in America and how capitalism has fueled white supremacy and contributed to the growing violence and unrest across the country.
Of course, since the Buffalo shooting, the right has sought to divert attention away from the shooter’s explicitly white nationalist views—specifically, that white people were being “replaced” by people of color. Eoin Higgins at THE FLASHPOINT elaborated on those efforts in a new article. “Tucker Carlson sycophant Glenn Greenwald” predictably defended Fox and Carlson.
The rise of rightwing violence and the right’s denial of its existence exemplifies the U.S.’s consistent inability to reckon with its racist history. COLORADO NEWSLINE has a story about that, covering Congressional efforts to establish a truth commission about Indian boarding schools, hearing testimony from survivors of the federal policy that forced Native Americans to attend schools where they were stripped of their culture, molested, and starved.
Another testament to America’s history of racial injustice is our carceral state. PRISM explores the shocking treatment of imprisoned people and their families through the pandemic.
THE MARSHALL PROJECT also released a firsthand account from a prisoner undergoing the confusing and dehumanizing process of transferring facilities.
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