20 July 2019

Reacting to Spree Killings--Progressively

(We are offline due to a much-needed research period this spring/summer, so we've decided to re-publish some earlier pieces you might have missed the first time.)

The recent Christchurch spree killer has claimed he was inspired by Dylann Roof, the young man who gunned down black worshipers at a church in South Carolina. This piece was published in the wake of Roof's massacre.

[Re-post, original post here.]

Of the many things Progressives are known for, number one is being on the right side of history.

So in the wake of this latest U.S. spree killing, we turn to our leading leftist voices to help us make sense of the madness.

Having studied their recent corpus on the question of the spree-killer-for-a-cause, we believe we've found some progressive principles to light our way.

I. Do not make generalizations about his group

The first thing progressives have taught us about the terrorist spree killer is to avoid generalizing about his group. When Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, for example, mowed down thirteen co-workers and wounded thirty at Fort Hood while crying 'Allahu Akbar,' this was the official reaction:

U.S. Army Major Hasan and his 'infidel' victims

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated "we object to—and do not believe—that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this ... This was an individual who does not, obviously, represent the Muslim faith."
Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. said "I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers ... Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse."

The Boston Marathon bombers drew a similar reaction:

Authorities are well aware that in the aftermath of the events in Boston nothing can be more counterproductive (not to mention unfair) than stigmatizing the whole American Muslim community, which is as horrified as any other by the attacks and could be a huge asset in preventing new ones.

Salon writer tartly reminded us that:

The Tsarnaev brothers’ criminal and perverse actions do not speak for me or the overwhelming majority of Muslims. I am not compelled to apologize for them or explain their actions. Muslims are not a monolithic, Borg-like collective ... with a telepathic understanding of the perverse mind-set of radicals in their “community.”

When the dreaded D.C. sniper turned out to be two Nation of Islam black Muslims who admired bin Laden and planned to 'kill six white people a day' because 'the white man is the devil,' leaders were quick to call for caution:

Rev. Al Sharpton, renowned African-American politician, says that ... society must caution against profiling people of color. “The face of black America is represented more by [local police] Chief Moose than by the snipers,” said Sharpton.

Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of the National Association of Black Organizations, said that he was surprised that the suspects were black, but that “there are bad and good people in every race.” ... Kweisi Mfume, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, said in a Friday press release, “Madmen, like bigots, come in all colors."

Years earlier, Sharpton et al. had also been quick to react to the Long Island Railroad mass murderer Colin Ferguson (6 dead, 19 wounded), known by neighbors for his nightly chants of 'all the black people killing all the white people':

Civil rights activists Al Sharpton and Herbert Daughtry urged that African Americans in general not be blamed for the crime; Sharpton, in particular, criticized what he called attempts "to demonize black and Hispanic dissatisfaction" by linking those groups to the murders.

[Jesse] Jackson stressed the shootings were the result of one man and should not be seen as indicative of all African Americans. The day after the shootings, Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta called Ferguson "an animal". Jackson and other African American leaders criticized the comment as racially charged, but Gulotta later insisted his statements had nothing to do with race.
Progressive rule number one, it would thus seem, is to avoid stigmatizing the attacker's group at all costs.

II. Try to identify his grievance

Once generalizing has been avoided, we are advised by progressives to step back and try to peer into the mind of the terrorist killer.  Can we understand what could have possibly led him to such carnage?

In truth, the question is often dual.  At one level, the terrorist murders 'for a cause,' something larger than himself. After the Boston Marathon bombing, the surviving killer was explicit:

[...] a note scrawled by Dzhokhar with a marker on the interior wall of the boat where he was hiding said the bombing were "retribution for U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq", and called the Boston victims 'collateral damage', "in the same way innocent victims have been collateral damage in U.S. wars around the world."

But such claims often go hand-in-hand with a far more personal motive. Older brother and guru Tamerlan was a volatile but talented boxer whose non-citizen status had ended his Olympic dreams. It is said his radicalization began then. Empathetic writers have pored over the reasons why these two could have gone so far off the rails, from mentally ill parents to immigrant alienation to simply being a millennial.

This dual-motive is seen again and again in mass killings 'for a cause,' such as that of Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood:

Major Nidal Hasan, army psychiatrist become jihadi
During the first day of the trial on August 6, Hasan—who was representing himself— admitted that he was the gunman during the Fort Hood shootings in 2009 and stated that the evidence would show that he was the shooter. He also told the panel hearing that he had "switched sides" and regarded himself as a Mujahideen waging "jihad" against the United States.

Digging deeper, it seems former patriot Hasan had been radicalizing slowly, exchanging e-mails with jihadi imam Anwar al-Awlaki (later nabbed by a U.S. drone in Yemen), and felt our Middle East wars were unjust. An Army psychiatrist, he had to listen to returning soldiers' stories all day and he said he felt some of them had committed war crimes. His superiors did not share this view. He may have been finally pushed over the edge by a coming deployment :

He was to be deployed to Afghanistan, contrary to earlier reports that he was to go to Iraq, on November 28 [the shooting occured Nov. 5]. Prior to the incident, Hasan told a local store owner that he was stressed about his imminent deployment to Afghanistan since he might then have to fight or kill fellow Muslims. According to Jeff Sadoski, spokesperson of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, "Hasan was upset about his deployment".
Digging deeper still, it turns out Hasan had lost his father in 1998 and mother in 2001, this last loss  said to be especially devastating for him. Parentless and unmarried at age 39, was his growing social isolation what ultimately started the horrific ball rolling?

Footnote:  The DoD raised eyebrows by declaring the massacre 'workplace violence' instead of 'terrorism'-- but as is so often the case in these attacks, the abstract and the personal seem to be hopelessly mixed.

The D.C. snipers' motives were even more enigmatic. Details came out at their trial:

 The acolyte and the guru: 'He was the father I wished I had'
Malvo testified that Muhammad, driven by hatred of America because of its "slavery, hypocrisy and foreign policy" and his belief that "the white man is the devil", planned to kill six whites a day for 30 days. Malvo alleged that Muhammad had said: "We are going to go to the Washington DC area and we are going to terrorise these people."
Digging deeper, we see that Muhammad (nee Williams) was a disenchanted Gulf War vet, Nation of Islam member, and possibly in the extremist group Al-Fuqra. His brainwashed protegé, Lee Malvo, glorified jihad in jailhouse drawings:

But digging deeper still, we find a personal crisis among the most acute imaginable: losing one's children. Ten years after the attacks, acolyte Malvo gave a jailhouse interview:
He said there is no explanation for why he and Muhammad killed so many people, .... He knows that Muhammad snapped when he lost custody of his children and wanted to get back at his ex-wife, Mildred Muhammad, who lived in Prince George’s County, ... “We were searching for Mildred,” Malvo said, adding that everything they did was toward the goal of finding her and getting the children back.
His ex-wife, who claims he returned from the Gulf War with PTSD, concurs:

Mildred Muhammad says convicted killer John Muhammad began plotting against her after she won custody of their young son and two daughters in 2001. ... [She] says her ex-husband thought if she were killed by a crazed gunman, he would regain custody of their children and collect compensation owed them as crime victims. "His end-game scenario was to come in as the grieving father," she says.
Again, in confounding ways, the political and the personal seem able to come together in a tragically toxic cocktail.

Finally, the Long Island Railroad killer Colin Ferguson was well-known for his desire to 'kill everybody white':
After arresting Ferguson, police found pieces of notebook paper in his pockets with scribbled notes with the heading "reasons for this". One of the notes referred to "racism by Caucasians and Uncle Tom Negroes".
His defense team justified the massacre thusly:
Kunstler and Kuby proposed an innovative defense that Ferguson had been driven to temporary insanity by a psychiatric condition they termed "black rage" [drawn from the 1968 study by psychiatrists Cobbs and Grier]. 
Kunstler and Kuby argued Ferguson had been driven insane by racial prejudice, and could not be held criminally liable for his actions even though he had committed the killings. The attorneys compared it to the utilization of the battered woman defense, post-traumatic stress disorder and the child abuse syndrome in other cases to negate criminal accountability.

Digging deeper, as in so many of these cases, Ferguson's life was littered with dysfunction and disappointment. Son of a wealthy Jamaican family, he lost both his parents at age 20 and migrated to the U.S. where menial jobs and his marriage's failure in 1988 sent him into a tailspin. After a work injury, he took time off to attend junior college, where his outbursts troubled peers:
Ferguson interrupted the professor by shouting, "We should be talking about the revolution in South Africa and how to get rid of the white people" and "Kill everybody white!" When students and teachers tried to quiet him, Ferguson started threatening them, repeatedly saying, "The black revolution will get you." He was suspended from the school in June 1991 as a result of the threats.

Digging deeper still, we see the now-familiar 'triggering event': his final appeal to increase a $25,000 workers' comp settlement was rejected for good in April 1993.  The shooting took place eight months later. A footnote:
The Daily News has learned that the chairwoman of the state Workers' Compensation Board, Barbara Patton, frequently takes the 5:33 p.m. train to Hicksville, N.Y., the train on which the massacre occurred.

Following the progressives' lead on terrorist spree killers then, we have seen that Principle 1 is to avoid stigmatization and Principle 2 is to search for motivation.  This leads us to Principle 3.

III. What lessons can we learn? 

Some spree killers 'for a cause' are seeking real change (e.g. modifying foreign policy). Others wish to simply register their unhappiness about an under-appreciated harm.  While the slaughter of innocents is always denounced across the board, some still ask:  Does this madman's grievance have any weight? Should we alter our behavior after this to avoid future carnage?  Many progressives have answered in the affirmative.

The recent Charlie Hebdo massacre in France led to much soul-searching in the press. From the Financial Times editorial page:

Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims.  France is the land of Voltaire, but too often editorial foolishness has prevailed at Charlie Hebdo.
 'A star is born!'
This is not in the slightest to condone the murderers, who must be caught and punished, or to suggest that freedom of expression should not extend to satirical portrayals of religion. It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.
Lesson learned:  In order to prevent slaughter by irate immigrants, Western satirical journalists would do well to mock only Christians or Jews, but not Muslims.

While not strictly a spree killing 'for a cause,' Omar Thornton's Hartford massacre touched larger questions and led to much media finger-pointing:

I was not surprised when I read on CNN.com that the alleged shooter told his uncle, "I killed the five racists that was there that was bothering me." As in most instances of workplace violence, the alleged shooter was probably a victim of unchecked discrimination.

While Hartford Distributors--a family owned beer distributor--denies that Omar Thornton, the alleged shooter, ever complained about discrimination, I found it interesting that they did not mention whether their company provided training to educate their employees about preventing, detecting and correcting workplace discrimination.

Footnote: After 9 months' investigation into this pressing question,
There is no evidence to support a man’s claim that he was a victim of racism before he fatally shot eight co-workers at a beer distribution company last summer, the police in this central Connecticut town said Thursday. The man, Omar S. Thornton, who was black, “did not seem to understand the concept of seniority” and believed that he was subjected to racism in his job...

... The police report said Mr. Thornton had made racist comments himself. A co-worker told the authorities that Mr. Thornton asked him if he knew any good white men and said, “You got to kill them before they go bad.”

Lesson learned: Even in workplaces where no racism is present, companies would do well to increase anti-discrimination training in order to lessen the chances of an unforeseen massacre.

The most horrific spree killing in U.S. history, the 9/11 attacks, have provoked immense soul-searching. Analyst Steven Kirsch:
If we want to stop the attacks, we must address the root cause. Specialists on bin Laden such as Milton Bearden ... noted that bin Laden's original and still preeminent goal is to rid the US military presence from Saudi Arabia. ... 911 is our "canary in the coal mine;" it is a warning sign that our international reputation is bad and that we must move to correct it or face more incidents.

After London's 2005 underground bombing, the Guardian's Jason Burke opined:

We need to recognise that doing things that enrage millions, even if we feel that anger is wrong-headed and misdirected, will make us more of a target. Before the invasion of Iraq the UK was fairly low down the target list for the militants. Now, Britain has joined Israel and America at its top.

Some causes of terrorism do exist within the UK. They include identity issues and the poor economic performance of many British Muslim communities as much as the activities of radical rabble-rousers from overseas. ... We need to look for new allies in the Islamic world. We should be developing major programmes to develop civic society... Every diplomatic mission should make convincing Muslims that the West is not an aggressor a priority.
Lesson learned: Dropping bombs on Muslims, propping up corrupt Arab dictators, or palling around with Israel are just a few of the activities Western countries could cease engaging in if they wanted to avoid future bloodshed of innocents.

As for recent terrorist spree killer Dylann Roof, shall we be asked to examine his grievances as well? He is reported to have told his victims, 'You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go.'

In his online manifesto, he says:
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. ...this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. ... There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?

Young Roof had, it appears, concluded that America was embroiled in a low-grade race war in which nearly all the fatalities were white and nearly all the aggressors black. Far-fetched?

As far-fetched as concluding that America and her kid brother Israel sanction, harass, and bomb Muslims throughout the Middle East, and prop up corrupt Arab dictators?

As far-fetched as concluding that mocking their prophet is grievously offensive to most Muslims?

As far-fetched as concluding that white racism could drive a black man over the edge?

The progressive's argument, as we have seen repeatedly, is that he doesn't condone the violence of the terrorist spree killer, but he can try to walk a mile in his shoes...

...This compassion, he feels, sets him apart from the rush-to-judgment conservative. He would be the first to ask, What were the real motives of this troubled soul? Were they legitimate?

Is it true, as the Charleston killer asserts, that the modern American press has drawn a permanent blackout over black-on-white crime?

Colin Flaherty has meticulously documented the facts in his interactive e-book, where one can click through directly to dozens of videos of the daily black-on-white violence about which the American press says nothing. So have Unamusement ParkAmerican RenaissanceViolence Against Whites Blog, the Council of Conservative Citizens (cited by Roof in his manifesto), as well as by ourselves here at this blog.

The progressive would tell us not to jump to conclusions--he detests jumping to conclusions--but to look at the facts and figures.  Is America really in the throes of an unreported black-on-white crime wave?

What do the National Crime Victimization Survey, the FBI, and the Department of Justice have to say?

Does the overwhelmingly black-on-white nature of interracial violence in the U.S. shock you? If it does, then perhaps there is something to this spree killer's contention that such crimes go largely unreported in the national media.

Another way to look at the question:

In a blank-slatist world, violent blacks would choose their victims in much the same way as violent whites do. It would look like this:

Back in reality:

Interracial violent crime in the U.S. is an overwhelmingly black-on-white affair.

The racial animus behind these crimes need hardly be belabored; if 13,463 white-on-black rapes vs. 0 black-on-white rapes were occurring yearly in the United States, the media would be in a state of permanent uproar.  We'll just remark in passing that since Obama took office, hundreds of random black-on-white assaults (up to and including disfigurement and death) have been committed to the tune of 'cracker,' 'tree honky,' 'white bitch,' 'white boy,' 'white motherfucker,' 'move your white ass,' 'I hate white people,' 'kill the white people,' 'fuck you, white bitch,' 'I hate you fucking white people,' and 'get that white man.'  But such stories are carefully confined to the local police blotter, as are those of the unarmed white men regularly shot by the police, for whom no white has ever burned down a city or even, it seems, raised an eyebrow.

The shock of this revelation seems to have metastasized in a young loner with the same profile we've seen so often--high-school dropout, broken home, social isolation, mental problems, drug use-- creating yet another spree killing monster to add to the horrifying gallery.

We join with progressives, then, in saying that while no one in their right mind can support slaughtering innocent Christians at a Wednesday night Bible study, it is possible that greater societal forces can push unstable people over the edge--and that such people's groups should not be stigmatized. We also join progressives in saying that these societal forces deserve to be looked at closely. We echo progressives' call to do our very best to avoid repeating the conditions that led to such unthinkable horror.


Anonymous said...

Multiple of your data sources for black on white crime are 404'd. Might wish to replace the links, otherwise reasoned and great article as always.

M.G. said...


You're right, sorry about the oversight. The original piece was published before I got into the habit of archiving every source.

I've now fixed the links for all the graphs regarding crime stats, as well as the news reports of black-on-white crimes.

Thank you for reading.

Anonymous said...

The Answer, I suspect, will never be found in large aggregates of people, where Truth is easily hidden beneath suffocating wishful-thinking lies and rationalizations.

Until large polities break into smaller ones, collective folly and ritual sacrifice yearly of a few thousand innocents in the name of taboo maintenance will continue. As long as that lasts, it pays to heed Ayn Rand's observation about the poor: "Don't be one of them."

Eventually I think this era of Dinosaur-sized nation-states will end (they all look increasingly dysfunctional already) and mammal-sized political entities will emerge from their current hiding places. Then we'll see those smaller entities coalesce into places with very different social mores and the will to enforce them. The most benign process would likely be a vast number of "Trails of Tears," where those whose preferences do not mirror the majority of their neighbors will move or be moved...elsewhere. Order is the daughter, not the mother, of liberty...and we'll see that if Large Authority can no longer restrict it, Liberty will wade in and restore order even if it requires the neighbors to personally burn the ghetto and all its inhabitants to bare earth.

Recent research backs the common-sense view that smarter people do better at cooperating under repeated "prisoner dilemma" interactions. This suggests to me that a period of such "coalescing" will be very, very bad for stupid people no matter how practiced in anti-social violence they may otherwise be.

The Determinist Naturalist

Anonymous said...

Nation-states are here to stay--they are a feature, not a bug, of human existence. I suggest, TDN, to be a realist, not a fantasy writer.

linkrot said...

Regarding links:
The way to go is *never* to link to sources directly unless necessary.
The lifetime of websites is so short that a lot of your links *will* break otherwise.
Instead, use web archives like http://archive.fo or http://web.archive.org.
And keep copies of your sources on your hard drive.