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August 21, 2019

Supreme nihilism


August 21, 2019

Mick Mulvaney staunchly defended President Trump after the shootings in Ohio and Texas, claiming he was horrified by the actions but had said nothing that could be construed as provoking them.

Trump did come out strongly two days later against hate groups and “white supremacy,” a little late for many who contend these shootings demonstrate his inflammatory rhetoric was at least partially to blame for the incidents. Hopefully this will be a real change from his irresponsibly-quick tweets that often lead to reversals and clumsy apologies for misguided claims and send many of his supporters ducking for cover; or his history of hesitancy to condemn the actions of “far right” groups like those in Charlottesville.

There’s the rhetoric and then there’s the ideology of ‘white supremacy’. Several Democrats vying for the presidential nomination have said flatly that Trump is a white supremacist, reinforced by a media chorus that included the shooters as well, especially the El Paso shooter. The Democrats as a whole tend to accuse Republicans and conservatives of having strong racist leanings if not “white supremacist” ones, which they deny. It makes sense that if Trump is a white supremacist his loose tongue would inspire the like-minded.

Ross Douthat claims the political motivations of the shooters are less important than the personal ones, that the white nationalism of these “internet failsons is like the allegiance to an imaginary caliphate that motivated the terrorists whose depredations helped get Trump elected in the first place. It’s often just a carapace, a flag of convenience, a performance for the vast TV-and-online audience that now attends these grisly spectacles, with a malignant narcissism and nihilism underneath” (‘The Nihilist in Chief,’ New York Times, 8/6/19).

The El Paso shooter performs with words to justify his actions, a split performance prefacing his deed: a reactionary rant against migrants that’s patched with comments on important issues of the day. Then he’s fifteen minutes of a Reality TV star.

He is white and his “manifesto” reveals that he’s an “America First” nationalist. His rant is against recent Hispanic “invaders,” though curiously not longtime legal residents. The non-whites who’ve helped build this country are not his target. His allegiance is with the Christchurch shooter’s notion of “replacement,” the threat of ethnic cultures from elsewhere overcoming and weakening the existing, indigenous residents.

So something went wrong when the Europeans invaded and destroyed Native American culture and he sides with it against the white “invaders.” These “invaders” of course are now the privileged, indigenous residents! But he doesn’t want this to repeat since he’s against “race-mixing,” which destroys genetic diversity, creates identity problems, and invites the stronger cultures to overtake the weaker. He therefore supports a confederation of ethnic tribes into some mysterious formula of segregated coexistence.

He echoes Trump’s language, itself an echo of a long trail of screeds. The invaders need to be “removed,” and we need to “get rid of” the illegals already here so that “our way of life can become more sustainable.” There are too many bodies to be absorbed into the mix, a problem compounded by the oncoming displacement from automation. He contends that if we have fewer people here there will be a better market for workers, a tangent from Trump’s “America First” imaginary. He’s also a fan of the “fake news” concept, claiming that the media will blame him for being influenced by Trump and racism, even though he isn’t.

But his pre-processed answers are perhaps the equivalent of tweeting a welter of conflicting claims that finally only question the sender’s motives.

Excerpted from: ‘SupremeNihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto’.


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