Violent far-right extremism is fueling mass shootings in America – Mother Jones

An investigator works at the scene of the Buffalo mass shooting.Matt Rourke / AP

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Saturday’s massacre in a Buffalo supermarket, which killed 10 people and injured three others, was the latest in a repugnant trend towards violent far-right extremism.

The 18-year-old suspect, Payton Gendron, made it clear in targeting victims in a predominantly black neighborhood that he was emulating other mass shooters: he streamed his attack using a body camera similar to a gunman who killed dozens. of Muslims in mosques in New Zealand in 2019. Gendron also reportedly detailed his racist intent in a lengthy document he posted online that espoused the “great substitute” theory. That bigoted conspiracy theory, the versions of which were spread from above Fox News Experts Other Republican politicians—He claims that white Americans are losing their country to a nefarious plot that welcomes an influx of immigrants and people of color.

Gendron had a history of disturbing behavior, according to law enforcement, including a threat he made in June 2021 to commit a suicide shooting at a school. Under New York law, he was arrested by the state police and subjected to a psychiatric evaluation. The findings are not publicly known, but Gendron was released within two days, officials said. After graduating from high school, according to the account authorities claim to have posted, he spent months radicalizing himself online and preparing for his attack on him, including extraordinary weapons and tactical equipment and guard his target.

As I have reported in previous investigations, far-right violent extremism grew in the United States during Donald Trump’s presidency and became more lethal. from convergence with the mass shootings epidemic. The violence included lethal rampages against Latins at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and Jews in synagogues in San Diego and Pittsburgh. Political polarization that continued to deepen after the January 6 uprising, combined with record arms sales during the pandemic, has increased further concerns between experts.

Political extremism that fuels grievances and despair in people in need has become a more pressing goal in recent years for leaders in the emerging field of behavioral threat assessment, the topic of my new book, Trigger Points: Within the mission to stop the mass shootings in America. The ways Trump and his political allies demonized “enemies” were nothing new, but their brash tactics. catalyzed a resurgence of ideological hatred and an increase in threat of domestic terrorism. This dramatic shift in traditional American politics has profound consequences, industry experts told me:

Threat assessment leaders are generally stoic in the face of tumultuous news, but after an intense 2020 election year battered by a politicized pandemic, several top experts I spoke to described feeling deeply troubled by the way dehumanization and the themes of existential social warfare had normalized into American politics. As one of them put it, “History shows how bad it can be when you really start convincing people that differences of opinion or political affiliation come from ‘enemies’ to be feared and despised because they are threatening to destroy your way of life. . “

Political demonization and rampant conspiracy theories [have been] percolating into fringe subcultures, with social media forming an increasingly interconnected path to radicalization, according to forensic psychiatrist Philip Saragoza, a threat assessment professional with experience in incels and other extremist groups. “One thing we emphasize during training is how interconnected these categories have become,” he told me, describing the growth model. “You have these disaffected young males living online, and they will break into a community on 4Chan or 8Chan, and in one thread they will find all kinds of misogynistic content from manosphere groups who are also involved with the politics of the MAGA movement, QAnon, or “great substitute” and other racist conspiracy theories. It’s a real hive of choices, almost like a la carte extremism “.

When Gendron was a high school student, He said he wanted to commit a homicide-suicide at school, according to authorities, but later claimed he was “kidding”. This is common behavior among school shooters, including the accused perpetrator the recent Oxford High School massacre in Michigan. That attack, like many planned mass shootings, was preceded by a surprising series of warning signs and could have been prevented.

Faced with such dark events and terrible loss of life, it is important to emphasize that we can and must do better as a nation. The work extends from fighting hateful political extremism and strengthening gun laws to taking more action in communities across the country to stop the mass shootings before they happen.

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