America’s Slow Motion Race War
Our first instinct – or set of instincts – regarding mass murders came charging to the fore as news of the Buffalo massacre spread across the nation. We grieved for the dead, prayed for the wounded, and began arguing among ourselves about how this can be prevented in the future.
Until now, the best explanation I found for these events (yes, I’m being euphemistic) came via David French, who cited Malcolm Gladwell.
Writing in 2015, Malcolm Gladwell wrote what I think is still the best explanation for modern American mass shootings, and it’s easily the least comforting. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex argument, essentially he argues that each mass shooting lowers the threshold for the next. He argues, we are in the midst of a slow-motion “riot” of mass shootings, with the Columbine shooting in many ways the key triggering event.
As discomforting as this explanation may be, I fear we’re actually looking at something worse, with the trigger no longer Columbine ‘99 but Charleston ‘15.
The Buffalo shooter, Payton Gendron, made abundantly clear he was following in Roof’s footsteps.
A 180-page document, purportedly written by Gendron, gives plans for the attack and makes references to other racist shootings and to Roof. The document also outlines a racist ideology rooted in a belief that the U.S. should belong only to white people. All others, the document said, were “replacers” who should be eliminated by force or terror. The attack was intended to intimidate all non-white, non-Christian people and get them to leave the country, it said.
In other words, we’ve moved from a slow-motion riot to a slow-motion race war. This isn’t about the guns Gendron was carrying, but rather the hatred and fear that led him to carry them 200 miles to his targets. In other words, it’s much worse.
We’ve known for decades that White Supremacy caused untold indirect damage to America and to Americans. Buffalo was a reminder that White Supremacy can also directly kill individual Americans … again.
Ending White Supremacy is about more than just making ourselves a better nation and fulfilling the promise of liberty for all. It’s also about ending our slow motion race war before it kills more Americans. That means we need to stand against their enablers, foreign and domestic.