Edward Ahmed Mitchell and Huzaifa Shabazz examine how global Islamophobia inspired and motivated the Buffalo terrorist and other domestic terrorists.
Like other white supremacists before him, the terrorist who opened fire at a Buffalo grocery store frequented by African Americans on May 14th published a manifesto beforehand explaining exactly why he did it. Nothing in that 180-page manifesto should come as a surprise to anyone who has studied racist attacks in America and other parts of the world over the past ten years.
Sikhs murdered at a temple in Oak Creek for visibly practicing their faith.
Black Americans murdered at a church in Charleston for simply being Black in America.
Jews murdered at a synagogue in Pittsburgh for welcoming Muslim refugees.
Latino shoppers murdered at a Wal-Mart in El Paso for representing America’s diversity.
White bystanders stabbed on a train in Portland for defending Muslim women from harassment.
Young liberal activists murdered in Norway for supporting multiculturalism.
Almost every one of the white supremacists behind these terrorist attacks represented a living, walking example of the toxic mix formed when the so-called Great Replacement Theory takes over someone’s mind.
The theory, which warns of an ongoing “white genocide” by people of color, continues to radicalize largely young white men here and around the world. White nationalists and white supremacists use “the great replacement” as a mechanism to radicalize and recruit members like Payton Gendron.
We now know that Gendron searched online for communities with large black populations before settling on and targeting the Tops Friendly Market. His semi-automatic gun had the N-word written on the barrel in white paint and the number 14 – a known white supremacist slogan. His anti-Black racism could not have been clearer.
Yet it is also important to note how anti-Muslim extremism and other forms of bigotry inspired almost every step of his attack. According to Gendron himself, he was directly inspired by Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist who murdered 51 Muslims and injured 49 at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in New Zealand.The #BuffaloShooting was directly inspired by the shooting at a mosque in #Christchurch New Zealand Note how anti-Muslim extremism and other forms of bigotry inspired almost every step of his attack in #Buffalo. #Islamophobia #RacismClick To Tweet
Like Gendron, Tarrant live-streamed his massacres on the internet, used an assault rifle marked up with racist slogans, and published a 73-page manifesto literally titled “The Great Replacement.” Gendron also left a manifesto in which he complained about a “white genocide” and detailed his racism against Muslims and Islam. He referred to Muslims as “invaders” that “do not belong here in White countries” and claimed that Turks were white people who “have been invaded by the religion of Islam.”
His manifesto panics over “empty churches and full mosques” and the “influx of outsiders from all corners of the world.” He views Muslims, Jews, and other minority faith communities as “enemies bound by faith, culture or tradition with higher levels of fertility, trust and in-group preference resulting in much stronger communities.”His manifesto panics over “empty churches and full mosques” and the “influx of outsiders from all corners of the world.” He views Muslims, Jews, and other minority faith communities as “enemies.' #Buffalo #BuffaloShooting #Islamophobia #Racism Click To Tweet
Gendron’s fevered Islamophobic paranoia over Muslim demographics reflects replacement theory talking points and other widely circulated anti-Muslim online conspiracies like those found in the YouTube video titled “Muslim Demographics,” which has over 16 million views. Despite multiple requests, YouTube has failed to take this video down.
Gendron and Tarrant also shared an obsession with Turkish President Erdogan, who Gendron refers to as “the leader of one of the oldest enemies of our people.” He also calls the current mayor of London Sadiq Khan a “Pakistani Muslim invader” who is an “open sign of the disenfranchisement and ethnic replacement of the British people in the British isles.” Gendron then calls for the murder of Erdogan, Khan, and activist financier George Soros, a frequent target of antisemitism.
The Buffalo shooter’s fixation on Muslims and other minority groups is not unique to him. Online white supremacist platforms frequently use antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Black racism interchangeably to depict a common, colluding “foreign” enemy plotting to supplant the white race. What’s even more disturbing is that this toxic idea – that wealthy Jewish activists are perpetrating a “white genocide” using Muslims, African-Americans, and/or Latinos –has also been promoted in mainstream circles for over ten years.
Remember the Sharia conspiracy hysteria that took over half the country in the wake of the widely covered “Ground Zero mosque” controversy and the subsequent election of the Tea Party in 2010? Mainstream media gave a platform to the likes of Pamela Geller and mainstream conservatives embraced the crazy, leading over a dozen states to ban “foreign law” and one state to explicitly ban “Sharia law.”
From Donald Trump to Richard Spencer to Daniel Pipes to Pamela Geller, there are too many other examples of hate and hate preachers to count. But one warrants special attention.
Tucker Carlson has been explicitly telling millions of Fox News viewers that Democrats are working to bring “more obedient voters from the third world” to replace the current white-majority electorate and win elections. When he says this, Carlson isn’t even bothering to use a racist dog whistle; he’s using a bullhorn.
What does all of this mean? It means that media outlets and political leaders can no longer give a wink-and-a-nod to any form of racist bigotry. Islamophobia will not threaten only Muslims, just as anti-Black racism, antisemitism and xenophobia will not threaten only African Americans, Jews, and Latinos. Eventually, bigots come for everyone.
Indeed, it’s important to remember that many of the insurrectionists who attacked Capitol Hill on January 6th because of election conspiracies had previously embraced various Islamophobic, anti-Black and antisemitic conspiracy theories.It’s important to remember that many of the insurrectionists who attacked Capitol Hill on January 6th because of election conspiracies had previously embraced various Islamophobic, anti-Black and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.Click To Tweet
This must end. In addition to all of the needed policy changes – such as Congress passing reasonable gun control measures and law enforcement going after real threats from white supremacists the way they go after imaginary threats from American Muslims – we must stop tolerating racism and bigotry in mainstream platforms.
Otherwise, Buffalo may simply be the latest in a long and continuing line of racist mass murders.
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