US mass killing exposes dangerous trend of white supremacism
Police speak to bystanders while investigating at a scene where an 18-year-old white man shot dead 10 people in a black neighborhood in what authorities are calling a racially motivated attack in the city of Buffalo on May 14, 2022.
A mass shooting Saturday afternoon at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, suspected of being a racially motivated attack, has resulted in 10 deaths, once again exposing the US’ increasingly serious and dangerous trend of neo-Nazi and white supremacist terrorism. It highlighted another social and economic predicament the US is facing, which is likely to push the already highly-divided, problem-laden country into a much bigger crisis.
Observers noted that due to its inability to address those deep-rooted problems, the current US administration would rather look the other way, focusing instead on marshalling allies against China and Russia, while some politicians even exploit such dangerous social issues to score political points. But eventually, the US failure to put the brakes on its most prominent domestic problems will take the country off the moral high ground when it comes to criticizing other countries in the name of “human rights” issues, and that conniving with the rising white supremacist terrorism will eventually backfire against the country, said experts.
Authorities identified the gunman as 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, a small town in New York. Mr. Gendron drove more than 200 miles to mount his attack, which he also livestreamed, the police were quoted by US media as saying. The shooting left 10 people dead and injured three more, almost all of them black.
Shortly after Gendron was captured, a manifesto believed to have been posted online by the gunman emerged, riddled with racist, anti-immigrant views that claimed white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color.
The 10 people killed in Buffalo represent the highest number of fatalities in a mass shooting in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks them.
In a statement made late Saturday night, US President Biden expressed sympathy for the victims’ families and praise for law enforcement, adding that “a racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation… Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” the president said.
In a news conference Saturday evening, Gov. Kathy Hochul decried the attack as a frightening reminder of the dangers of “white supremacist terrorism.”
The rise of white supremacy, widening racial divides and growing inequality are deep-rooted problems that have long poisoned US society, said experts. Similarly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to high inflation, rising prices and surging deaths, those problems are becoming more and more prominent, and has fueled other crises such as racial tensions and gun violence.
Under the Trump administration, which brought white supremacy to an unprecedented height, racism in the US, which had been walled up out of “political correctness,” expanded greatly. “The fact is that racial hatred within the US, including hatred against Asians after the pandemic, has been constantly on the rise. It’s hard to say whether Biden has done a better job than his predecessor.”
Many US netizens also noticed that the manifesto Gendron published used the same “black sun” Nazi symbol used by the Azov Battalion, an infamous Ukraine-based neo-Nazi military regiment founded by white supremacists, which is suspected of being supported by the US. Pictures were circulated of Gendron wearing the “black sun” on his chest in photos taken prior to the mass shooting.
The killer also revealed in his manifesto that he had been influenced by a New Zealand white supremacist who murdered dozens of people in a pair of shootings three years ago. In an article introducing the New Zealand terrorist, Brenton Harrison Tarrant from ABC Australia, Australia’s international television service, published an article in 2019 detailing in depth how the attacker was influenced by Ukraine’s Azov movement, a far-right movement.
However, as the US firmly supports Ukraine during the Russia-Ukraine crisis, no mainstream US media has singled out the link.
Lost moral high ground
Instead of starting to pare back the growing white supremacy in the US, experts noted that US politicians are looking the other way and seeking to gain political benefits from such problems.
The racial issue is not at the top of the Biden administration’s agenda, with more pressing issues at hand both in and outside the country. Internationally, the Russia-Ukraine war is undoubtedly the White House’s priority, and at the same time it is stretching its arms toward China and almost every other hotspot issue. Domestically, the White House is facing inflation, trying to pump up economic recovery, and looking to prevent and control the epidemic, all of which are urgent problems to be solved.
Experts also said that some US politicians could seek political gains from this incident.
The US political landscape is characterized by its focus on election campaigns. Both parties are trying to polarize the society and are making their supporters more and more extreme, says a research fellow an Academy of Social Sciences. She noted that with the wealth gap and social class inequality fueling the hatred among the middle and lower class, both parties prefer to divide the classes with the purpose of expanding the voter base.
As a result, incidents like the shooting in Buffalo will help in using identity politics to tear them apart and create a sense of insecurity in their own bases so that more votes will pour in due to this sense of insecurity.
By inciting internal conflicts, they consolidate their voter base and create mutual hatred among society, making it impossible for the masses to question the whole system, the expert said.
Biden has recently attacked the movement of previous US President Donald Trump as the “most extreme political organization” that has existed in recent American history, as his hold on the Republican party continues in the wake of revelations over the conservative-led Supreme Court’s likely move to gut abortion rights.
The publication of the controversial draft ruling on abortion rights could upend the political dynamic ahead of November’s midterm elections, offering Democrats an opportunity to energize their base and portray Republicans as drifting dangerously to the right and becoming increasingly influenced by Donald Trump.
Even with the lives of minorities coming under attack in the US, the banner of human rights is still being exploited by the US government. “The US attacks other countries saying the human rights issue is a political one, caused by a ‘problematic’ political system that cannot ensure procedural justice. When it comes to the Americans’ own human rights issues, especially those of African Americans and Asians, they attribute it to a social problem, and that’s the American discourse, says a Chinese Expert.