The 10 people killed in a Buffalo supermarket were victims of the weekend’s largest mass shooting, though not its only one. They were victims of the 198th mass shooting of 2022, by one count. And they were victims of a racist theory pushed by Fox News and Republican politicians, as well as by other mass murderers.
The shooter traveled more than three hours to a Black neighborhood in Buffalo to target Black people. Those killed included Ruth Whitfield, 86; Katherine Massey, 72; Pearly Young, 77; Heyward Patterson, 68; Celestine Chaney, 65; and Roberta Drury, 32. They also included Aaron Salter, a former police officer working as a security guard, who shot the suspect—only the suspect was wearing body armor. Young ran a food pantry. Massey was a member of a community group working to address violence. Patterson worked as a driver bringing people to the grocery store, and volunteered at his church. Their lives mattered.
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The 18-year-old suspect’s manifesto laid out a series of racist views behind the shooting, saying they came “mostly from the Internet,” but The Washington Post’s Max Boot identifies at least one passage that could have been taken straight from a Tucker Carlson monologue on Fox News.
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”Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength?” wrote the shooting suspect. “Said throughout the media, spoken by politicians, educators and celebrities. But no one ever seems to give a reason why. What gives a nation strength? And how does diversity increase that strength?”
”How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it,” said Carlson in 2018, and echoed often since. “Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don’t know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are?”
This isn’t just Carlson. It’s not just Carlson and the likes of Rep. Matt Gaetz, though it is also Gaetz. It’s also Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican. It’s Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and one of the people most responsible for setting the Republican Party on its current path. It’s a series of other Fox News personalities, and conservative media personalities like Charlie Kirk, Ann Coulter, and the late Rush Limbaugh. It’s nearly half of Republicans, according to one poll.
This is not a mystery. This is the inevitable outcome of people with very large platforms pushing racism and conspiracy theories and eliminationist rhetoric, while also pushing and protecting gun ownership among their followers, creating a mass of heavily armed people filled with racist ideas and convinced that they as white people are threatened by the mere existence in this country of Black people. Or immigrants. Or Jewish people. Or fill in the blank.
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Important infographic traces how Tucker Carlson promotes racism and paranoia