The DOJ is vowing to beef up efforts to combat hate crimes, amid fears that white supremacist ideology migrated from the political margins into the mainstream.
Attorney General Merrick Garland stated the department will use “every legal tool” to investigate the incident and combat the “evolving” threat of hate crime.
The Shooter’s Manifesto
All but two of the victims in the May 14 shooting rampage at a Buffalo store were black. Payton Gendron, 18, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
The DOJ is investigating the incident as a hate crime and racial extremism. 800,305 hate crimes were registered in 2020, the most in 20 years.
Garland met with NAACP officials on Friday to address white supremacy and social media.
Derrick Johnson, the group’s leader, called for corporations that benefit from white supremacy to be held responsible for “the major role they play in increasing hate crimes.”
The DOJ’s decision to investigate the Buffalo massacre as a hate crime was partly based on a 180-page diatribe the suspect reportedly put online two days before the incident.
The internet rant expresses existential fear that elites have set U.S. policy to “replace” white Americans by bringing in minorities with higher birth rates.
It should not be hard, especially today, for every elected official and media personality in America—left, right, and center—to unequivocally condemn white nationalism, “replacement theory,” and all that comes with it.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) May 15, 2022
This so-called “great replacement theory” has long been on the periphery of U.S. politics. Its sympathizers routinely use white grievance and racial animosity.
The Media’s Role
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was a sharp critic of members of her own party who supported white nationalism or refused to denounce it after the Buffalo incident.
Since the Buffalo incident, conservative pundits have been scrutinized. A New York Times study found Tucker Carlson’s primetime Fox News show supported the replacement theory in more than 400 episodes.
NAACP’s Johnson singled out Carlson and his show’s parent corporation before meeting Garland on Friday.
A number of MAGA Republicans are tweeting “How DARE you accuse Tucker of promoting the white replacement theory that has motivated multiple mass killers?”…seemingly unaware of all the clips of him promoting the white replacement theory that has motivated multiple mass killers.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 15, 2022
Johnson stated Fox News is American broadcasting’s worst.
“Shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight have utilized the media outlet’s ‘news’ section to propagate hatred, racism, discord, disinformation, and conspiracy theories that inspire violence.”
Experts on political violence think America has reached a tipping point when recognizing white nationalism as a mainstream political movement.
Robert Pape, a political science professor at the University of Chicago and supervisor of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, said the following:
“It’s really important we arrive at that revelation or else it’s too easy for the presidency, politicians, and other media personalities to just bust the issue.”
Vanita Gupta, the DOJ’s No. 3 official, joined Garland on Friday to unveil a new anti-hate crime effort.
She said the department would focus on prevention and deterrence, helped by a new program to enable local law enforcement and localities to report potential hate crimes to the federal government.
Pape of the University of Chicago said white supremacist ideology’s mainstreaming stoked violence.
When these views become widespread, volatile people might react. He added it lowers the bar for volatility to be considered legitimate.
“If you read the manifesto, he feels what he’s doing is legal, and he’ll make it more so.”