A lone white man,
spouting racial hate, goes on a rampage, and the United States of America
suffers yet another “stain on its soul” – the story is, now, near-routine. From
El Paso to Buffalo, the shooting, the hate-messaging, the condemnation and the
moving on have become nauseatingly familiar. Yet, the Buffalo killings are important
in their political impact, and in understanding what deep recesses of the
internet are doing to American society.

Payton Gendron is
an 18-year-old white male. He is under probe for having written something
allegedly problematic at school. On Saturday, the teen who is said to have
defined himself as “a white supremacist and a fascist,” according to a BBC
report, set out with an assault rifle, walked into a primarily black neighbourhood
in Buffalo, New York, and started shooting first outside and then inside a
supermarket all the while running a live stream on social media.

Ten people died in
the attack
and Buffalo mayor Byron Brown said the suspect arrived to take “as
many black lives as possible
.” Mayor Brown also said the Buffalo killings will
be a turning point. “I believe what happened in Buffalo, New York yesterday is
going to be a turning point. I think it’s going to be different after this, in
terms of energy and the activity we see.”

Before the
rampage, the suspect, authorities said, posted a 180-page ‘manifesto’
articulating the ‘white replacement theory’. The theory posits that a cabal of
global elites is trying to destroy white nations, via the systematic
replacement of white populations. Jason Stanley, a professor of philosophy at
Yale University, writing for the Guardian, states white replacement theory that
the roots of white replacement theory go back to the Nazi regime.

White replacement
theory also states that Jews are enablers of this white replacement, which they
do by supporting causes such as Black Lives Matter and NAACP. Nearly 29 pages of
Gendron’s manifesto deal with Jewish support for non-white races. The section
ends with Gendron’s manifesto saying: “Jews are spreading ideas such as Critical
Race Theory and white shame/guilt to brainwash Whites into hating themselves
and their people.”

Working as lone
wolves, the white supremacists out for blood are not without an ideological
framework. Gendron’s 180-page manifesto acknowledges Brenton Tarrant, the man
who killed 51 people at a mosque in New Zealand’s Christchurch in 2019.

Tarrant too had a
manifesto which, like Gendron’s, decried the “white genocide” that will supposedly
take place as a result of low fertility rates among whites and high fertility
rates among non-white immigrants. Gendron’s manifesto, however, is an American
version with references to Jim Crow and lynching.   

The Buffalo
killings are not just similar to the Christchurch attack, but to a string of
others. In El Paso, a 21-year-old posted a document on social media protesting
the ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas’ and then walked into a Walmart to kill 21
people. In 2018, another white male killed nine people in Charleston, South

The FBI, US’s premier
federal investigation agency, reported in 2021 that hate crimes in the country
were up to the highest level in 12 years. While major mass shootings such as
the one in Buffalo garner attention, thousands of other hate-based attacks take
place every year, according to attorney-general Merrick Garland.