Why Extremist Manifestos Matter
What the manifestos left behind by mass shooters tell us and why you should be gravely concerned
Despite warnings issued by many who are often shunned by legacy media, it seems the only time people are concerned with extremism is when cable news tells them to be. In fact, much of the information shared by those outlets has often been uncovered by the people US society ignores the most. In other words, big media gatekeeps conversations we’re already having until money can be made off those discussions (while leaving us out as they chase clout).
Mostly, legacy media tells independent journalists, like me, that these topics aren’t a “good fit right now”. But, when a mass murder occurs, they simply steal our intellectual property and use our work as if they’ve been on the case the whole time. The impact of this leads to the quiet proliferation of mass murder by members of the political right. The notion that the “news” won’t discuss these issues until after people are murdered en masse should alarm everyone.
Media pundits try to be the authority on extremism. Yet, they don’t fully understand it. They talk of how new this is (it isn’t) and “4-Chan-based extremists” (a misnomer if there ever was one) which is detrimental to anyone trying to discern what is happening. None of this is recent and it began well before Trump, the Tea Party, or Ronald Reagan. It started at the very beginning.
That extremists still use the same language and ideology that Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers used with regards to immigration and protecting the “white race” in the United States is telling. That David Duke was one of the biggest proponents of “white genocide” and “white extinction” also plays a huge role. Legacy media, however, would have you think otherwise.
Even simply blaming Fox News or Tucker Carlson shows a lack of understanding of the overall issue. The Buffalo mass shooter damned Fox News in his manifesto and never mentioned Carlson once. While this doesn’t absolve Carlson from spreading KKK ideology, it shows that he is but the tip of the iceberg. When someone hears what Carlson says and goes online to learn more, they have access to troves of disinformation that seemingly validate what he says.
That information has been flooding the “information superhighway” for decades. What we don’t have enough of is information countering that narrative. Articles and think-pieces after a mass killing fall on deaf ears. The only people that read them already have an opinion on extremism but they aren’t addressing it. Big media flooding the internet in spurts doesn’t work either.
Legacy media has to be more consistent. Especially now.
While the people on TV get paid the big bucks to wear suits and because they’re trained to withhold emotion on camera, I and many others are doing real work every day. We do it not because it’s popular, but because we’re serious about making a difference instead of being put on a pedestal. We aren’t here for clout. We’re here to do the work.
What works in this space is calling things what they are and not hiding from the history that birthed them. It’s focused on understanding how we’ve come hundreds of years and allowed extremists to use the same language and harbor the same feelings about the “browning of America” that we’ve been warned about for centuries. This is where corporate media fails us.
To them, talking about the explosion in hate crimes and extremism sometimes isn’t a good fit and the timing isn’t good because they’re worried about viewership numbers and what that means for ad dollars. I often say, “hate is big business” in reference to extremists profiting quite well from it. But if we don’t discuss the media’s complicity, then we are complicit too.
Not discussing the rise in hate crimes against immigrants, Latinos, and Black people in favor of discussing only hate directed at Asians has proven to be problematic. While it’s a topic that needs to be discussed, attacks on minorities other than the AAPI community have been all but shoved to the side despite those groups being increasingly attacked more than Asians have.
According to the Equal Justice Initiative in a report issued in September of 2021: “Bias against African Americans overwhelmingly comprised the largest category of race-based hate crime incidents, with a total of 56% of race-based hate crimes being motivated by anti-Black bias.”
It would be difficult to understand this based on legacy media’s narrative over the last two years.
“Hate crime incidents targeting people because of their race increased more than any other category between 2019 and 2020, rising from 3,954 to 4,939 incidents. Attacks targeting Black people saw the largest rise, from 1,972 in 2019 to 2,755 in 2020.,” the report continued. “The number of attacks against Asian Americans increased from 161 to 274, the FBI data shows.”
And while we needed a more robust hate crime bill, we saw no such thing after the massacre of 23 El Pasoans in a Texas Walmart; the murder of 11 Jews at a Synagogue in Pennsylvania; or the mass murder of 9 Black people during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. What we are dealing with today goes beyond your basic racial animus.
Why Manifestos Matter
After every mass murder or domestic terrorist attack against non-white groups we always hear people say things like, “don’t share his picture” and “don’t read his manifesto or post it online”. This is another method of sweeping the extremism problem under the rug. Every citizen in the United States must read the manifesto to fully understand the problem.
It is implored upon the public to read it for themselves. Not to try and glean information from think pieces and others’ opinions, but to learn about why and how young white men are being radicalized. Again, this goes beyond the Tucker Carlsons of the world. If civil society doesn’t address this head-on, non-white people are all but doomed to remain marginalized in a white-washed world.
The manifesto is important because what became apparent is the general public doesn’t have a fundamental understanding of even the most basic of things. For example, the 14 words. The Buffalo shooter had the number 14 scrawled on his rifle representing the phrase: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” yet many ask what it means despite the slogan being around since the 1980s - nearly 40 years.
If we are to educate society about what is really happening out in these anti-racism streets, it has been made clear that we can not rely on corporate media. If your only source of information is driven by ad dollars, you’re not getting the full story. The radicalization of the Buffalo shooter is based on a centuries-old ideology that was baked into the founding of the United States.
When people like Carlson, Duke, or Trump regurgitate the words of historically racist people, whether they were founders or not, they know precisely what they’re doing. Because corporate media doesn’t cover these topics in greater detail and only reports on individual acts, it is incumbent upon us to familiarize ourselves with what is really happening.
If people in this line of work can lurk on extremist channels - as so many of us do to track the words, actions, and movements of terrorists, then the general public can set aside the time to confront what extremists are saying. The United States can ill-afford to be so weak that its citizens can’t bring themselves to be uncomfortable long enough to read the manifestos of mass murderers.
Silence and screaming at us to not share his words equals complacency in every sense of the word. None of these pre-programmed reactions to these events have brought us any closer to solving the issue. Instead, North American society has done nothing but make it worse not just by turning a blind eye to the truth, but by ignoring the problem altogether.
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