Right-wing media played a role in Buffalo shooting

Jordan Reid is the founding editor of Ramshackle Glam.
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Jordan Reid

Author; Founding Editor, Ramshackle Glam
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Debate over gun control laws is white hot after recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. The gunman in the Buffalo case allegedly published a 180-page “manifesto” that laid out plans to attack Black people and repeatedly cited the so-called “great replacement” theory.  Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid argues certain right-wing media groups indirectly — and ultimately explicitly — contribute to conditions making racially-motivated mass shootings all too common:

I don’t often speak directly to the right. I don’t see much point in it, frankly. In my experience, the right which is less the far right and just all of the right except for strangely enough, Liz Cheney – generally responds to direct statements and questions with some combination of avoidance and gaslighting. 

But I’m angry today, and I would really, really like to hear what the right has to say about the Buffalo shooting beyond offering thoughts and prayers.

The Buffalo shooting is one in a long line of racially motivated slayings based on a narrative that has been, if not explicitly supported by the right-wing community, certainly implicitly. In the aftermath of shootings targeting people of color, the right likes to explain away the incidents as, for lack of a better word, blips.

It’s not because of easy access to military grade weaponry; it’s because of mental illness. It’s not because of dangerous and omnipresent racist rhetoric; it’s because of a few bad actors. And it’s certainly not because white supremacy has been not-so-slowly, not-so-insidiously emerging from the fringes of the far right ideology into the mainstream, its adherents gaining steam from amplification by outlets like Fox News and host Tucker Carlson. No, it couldn’t possibly be that. Except that’s exactly what happened. And what will continue to happen, so long as these media outlets continue to use their platforms to suggest that White people are being, quote, replaced, their God-given power being co-opted by people who don’t look like them, and are therefore lesser. 

JORDAN REID: I don’t often speak directly to the right. I don’t see much point in it, frankly. In my experience, the right which is less the far right and just all of the right except for strangely enough, Liz Cheney – generally responds to direct statements and questions with some combination of avoidance and gaslighting. 

But I’m angry today, and I would really, really like to hear what the right has to say about the Buffalo shooting beyond offering thoughts and prayers.

The Buffalo shooting is one in a long line of racially motivated slayings based on a narrative that has been, if not explicitly supported by the right-wing community, certainly implicitly.

On May 14, a gunman opened fire at a market in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The gunman wore military-style protective gear, and carried a semi-automatic rifle. He killed ten people, and wounded three more and 13 people in all were victims, 11 of the 13 hurt or killed in the attack were Black. 

In the aftermath of shootings targeting people of color, the right likes to explain away the incidents as, for lack of a better word, blips.

It’s not because of easy access to military grade weaponry; it’s because of mental illness. It’s not because of dangerous and omnipresent racist rhetoric; it’s because of a few bad actors. 

And it’s certainly not because white supremacy has been not-so-slowly, not-so-insidiously emerging from the fringes of the far right ideology into the mainstream,

Its adherents gaining steam from amplification by outlets like Fox News and host Tucker Carlson. No, it couldn’t possibly be that. Except that’s exactly what happened. And what will continue to happen, so long as these media outlets continue to use their platforms to suggest that white people are being, quote, replaced, their God-given power being co-opted by people who don’t look like them, and are therefore lesser. 

Elements of the so-called Replacement Theory, apparently cited by the gunman in a “manifesto” – make frequent appearances on Tucker Carlson’s hugely popular weeknight show, albeit with terms like “the elites” or “the ruling class” substituting for, you know, Jews. 

Among other claims, the theory holds that falling birthrates – due in part to feminist ideologies and increasing support for gender non-conformative individuals – and lax immigration policies are  leading to the literal replacement of white people. 

The theory has been cited in several mass shootings since 2018, including the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the El Paso Walmart shooting. “They” want to replace “you.” 

It’s a simple narrative, and an effective one, it’s commonly used by authoritarian leaders to fire people up. Think Fox News doesn’t know this? Think again.

According to an analysis in The New York Times, Carlson supported the idea that white voters are being replaced with voters from the “Third World” or immigrants in over four hundred episodes. It’s not exactly the dictionary definition of a blip.

TUCKER CARLSON: we’re sad to tell you, a horrifying amount of violence in the united states over the weekend as increasingly there is

JORDAN REID: What happened in Buffalo is horrible, it’s unthinkable and I’m sure you’ll hear people on the right say that. It’s an easy thing to say. The harder thing, as anyone who is trying to raise children to be good people knows, is to turn that harsh lens onto yourself. Except for in this case the result  isn’t a playground altercation, it’s a national tragedy. 

So I have to ask those on the right – not that I expect an answer – at what point does implicit sanctioning become explicit support? I’d argue that we’re there. I’d argue that We’ve been there a very long time but no matter how many times we say the quiet part out loud, the result is the same: Distraction, blame shifting, redirection, and, ultimately, nothing at all.

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