White nationalists, who have employed terroristic rhetoric with increased enthusiasm in recent months, expressed solidarity with the man who police say killed at least 20 people in El Paso, Texas on Saturday.
These white nationalists also mocked the dead.
Authorities identified the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Dallas, Texas. Police say the suspect carried a rifle into a Walmart in El Paso and opened fire on the people inside, injuring at least 26 people in addition to those who died. The same authorities are working to confirm the authenticity of, and any links between, the suspect and a manifesto published to the fringe internet platform 8chan in advance of the attack. The apparent manifesto refers to the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Federal authorities are investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and a possible hate crime, several media outlets reported on Sunday.
The El Paso attack would be first of two mass shootings in 24 hours in the United States. Early Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire at a bar in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people before police shot him dead.
The El Paso shooting follows a pattern carried out in Christchurch, New Zealand in March and in Poway, California in April. In both attacks, the suspects published manifestos to 8chan. Both manifestos were saturated with white nationalist talking points, portraying whites as the victims of a plan for elimination. The Christchurch attack targeted Muslims and the Poway attack targeted Jews.
Kevin MacDonald, an antisemitic former academic who is popular and influential with white nationalists, wrote on Twitter that he “agreed” with the El Paso suspect, based on the unverified manifesto.
“Agree with the shooter that the Dems see immigration as a path to permanent power and that pro-business elements in the GOP are cooperating,” he wrote, referring to lines in manifesto. “This won't be last bit of violence from people concerned about the Great Replacement. Political elites are playing a very dangerous game.”
The “Great Replacement” refers to a conspiratorial belief that whites are being systematically replaced in Western countries. The suspected terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand titled his manifesto “The Great Replacement.” The unconfirmed manifesto being investigated by police in connection with the El Paso shooting praised the New Zealand attack in its opening line.
Accelerationism on the rise
Accelerationism is the belief among some far-right extremists that committing acts of terrorism will cause society to collapse. Following the collapse of Western civilization, the accelerationists believe they will have opportunities to build a country for only white, non-Jews that are unimaginable under the current system.
A pseudonymous Twitter user who goes by the display name “Dr. Honkler” wrote the words, “ACCELERATE ACCELERATE,” in response to a breaking news report of the El Paso attack, for example.
White nationalists have used fringe platforms like 8chan and the messaging app Telegram to call for terror attacks like the one in El Paso and to praise those who commit mass shootings in the name of their ideology as “saints.” Hatewatch reported on the trend of white nationalists publishing calls for terrorism to Telegram in June.
Paul Nehlen, who had 90,000 followers on Twitter before the company removed him from the platform, advocates for accelerationism in America. The former Republican candidate for Congress received praise from Donald Trump when he first ran for office in 2016. Today, Nehlen encourages his Telegram followers to embrace violence against minorities. He refers to himself as “Uncle Paul” and calls white nationalist terror attacks “boogaloos.” Hatewatch reported on Nehlen’s radicalization in a profile of him, which was published in June.
Nehlen responded to news of the attack in El Paso with glee.
“Pew pew pew to the dome,” Nehlen wrote to his Telegram followers, referring to a gory video showing what looks like the body of a person killed in the attack, splayed out on the floor of the Walmart.
Nehlen also reposted the comments of a pseudonymous Telegram user going by the name “Pure Hate.” The user wrote mockingly of the same video, “Clean up in aisle 4!”
“Pure Hate” also appeared to delight in the idea of attacking specifically Hispanic people in separate Telegram posts.
“Hey Bean N------, in case you didn’t hear it the first time. Trump said, ‘you have to go back. You have to go back. We have no choice!’” “Pure Hate” wrote, paraphrasing President Trump’s rhetoric about immigration.
“Thank you Saint Crusius for avenging us,” “Pure Hate” added underneath pictures of Kate Steinle and Mollie Tibbets.
Undocumented Latino immigrants were implicated in the death of both Steinle and Tibbets, whose cases became national stories in 2015 and 2018 respectively. Trump has used the deaths of both women to argue for his immigration policies. The President employed Tibbets’ name in a campaign email in June, despite calls from her father to “leave us out of your debate." In reality, there is no correlation between undocumented immigration and crime, according to a comprehensive report published by The Marshall Project in May.
A pseudonymous Telegram account associated with “Bowlcast,” a podcast named after racist mass murderer Dylann Roof, posted a meme showing the suspect entering the Walmart with a rifle.
“GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT,” the meme declared.
Anonymous 8chan users also praised the terror attack. In a thread called “Kike Free Shooting Thread II,” a user of the say-anything forum wrote in the hours after the shooting took place, “The motive and the manifesto have not been named the entire day. There weren’t even speculations. They are fucking SCARED.”
Another 8chan user on the same thread posted a meme showing the image of what appeared to be a young girl killed in the attack, her body wet with blood. The meme also depicted the image of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, and another Syrian boy whose image went viral after he was pulled from the rubble in Aleppo in 2016. Superimposed over the dead and injured children were smiling, “alt-right” meme characters typically associated with ridicule and mockery.
White nationalists are heavily active on mainstream platforms like Twitter. There, they used the highly trafficked site to defend their ideology, deflect responsibility onto those who disagree, and imply that future bloodshed is inevitable.
“As [white nationalists] find themselves increasingly censored and attacked by society at large, young men will feel the need to take action,” white nationalist Twitter user @SvenLadenReborn wrote, implying that white nationalists like himself are unable to express themselves on social media. “The choice is clear, either let us speak and spread our message, or expect an increasingly violent reaction by those who feel like they don’t have a voice.”
Brad Griffin, a white nationalist blogger who has been critical of terror attacks and accelerationism, still insinuated that they were inevitable going forward.
“Something like 1.25 million illegal aliens are expected to cross the border this year under the Blompf presidency,” Griffin wrote on his website “Occidental Dissent” Saturday, using a name mocking President Trump. “The vast majority of them will be released in the interior. Nothing is being done to stop it either. It isn’t really surprising that someone in Texas would be so angry about it and so frustrated by the utter worthlessness of conservatism that they would snap.”
Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, one of the key contributors to the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, went further than Griffin. He wrote in the comments of a post on The Daily Stormer called “Full Text of Alleged Manifesto of El Paso Shooter” that violence against non-whites is “desirable.”
“Random violence is not detrimental to our cause, because we need to convince Americans that violence against nonwhites is desirable or at least not something worth opposing anyways, because there’s no way to remove a hundred million people without a massive element of violence,” Auernheimer wrote.
Photo credit: AP Images