Opinion

Media Falsely Claim Mass Public Shooters are 'Right-wingers' When They're Environmental Extremists

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Posted: May 17, 2022 9:23 AM
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Media Falsely Claim Mass Public Shooters are 'Right-wingers' When They're Environmental Extremists

Source: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

If you believe the Los Angeles Times, the Buffalo shooter who left 10 dead emerged from “a far-right ecosystem.” A Rolling Stone headline echoed the claim: “The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican.” The New York Times links the mass murderer to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. Not to be left out, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) blames Republicans for the attack, claiming: “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism.” 

This latest attack is one in a series of mass public shootings motivated by environmentalism. But you won’t hear that on the news.

In his manifesto, the gunman self-identifies as an “eco-fascist national socialist” and a member of the “mild-moderate authoritarian left.” He expresses concern that minority immigrants have too many children and will damage the environment. 

Capitalists, who the shooter argues are destroying the environment, are at the root of much of the problem. “The trade of goods is to be discouraged at all costs,” he demands.

Overpopulation and the environment are hardly signature conservative issues. It’s certainly not something you’ll hear Donald Trump talk about at his rallies. And while some Republicans believe in limiting international trade, it’s certainly not for environmental reasons.

We usually think of Democrats, not Republicans, as the environmentalists.

The Buffalo murderer’s views are almost word-for-word similar to those of the shooters in 2019 at a New Zealand mosque and an El Paso Walmart.

But the Washington Post called the New Zealand mosque shooting, “One of the worst cases of right-wing terrorism in years.” Right-wingers don’t usually declare that “conservatism is dead” and that “global capitalist markets are the enemy of racial autonomists.” Or call themselves an “Eco-fascist.” 

Conservatives don’t believe: “The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.” Nor do they write: “The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.”

The El Paso murderer had the same sentiments. “The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. . . .  The next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”

All three of these deranged mass murderers made minorities their principal target. But they’ve done so out of a crazy environmentalist determination to reduce the human population by whatever means necessary. 

The news media and politicians who are constantly warning about the world’s imminent end just can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the environmentalist connection. Indeed, climate activists agree that overpopulation is part of the problem. “It does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question: Is it okay to still have children?” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2019. She also warned that the “‘world will end in 12 years if we don't address climate change.” 

President Biden keeps fanning the flames of alarmism, claiming that “climate change poses an existential threat to our lives . . .  this is code red.” US Climate Envoy John Kerry said that the threat of climate change goes “beyond existential” for some, whatever that means.

If some people actually believe that the world is about to end because of overpopulation, we shouldn’t be surprised that they feel murder is justified for saving the planet. The media unfairly blamed Sarah Palin for the 2011 shooting of Gabby Giffords because Palin released a map displaying crosshairs over some congressional seats, including Giffords’. But the media is completely failing to see the clear connection between environmental extremist rhetoric and these attacks.

Of the 82 mass public shootings from January 1998 to May 2021, 9 percent have known or alleged ties to white supremacists, neo-Nazis, or anti-immigrant views, and many of those, such as the Buffalo murderer, hold decidedly socialist, left-wing views. Another nine percent are carried out by people of middle eastern origin, making Middle Easterners, who make up only 0.4% of the country, by far the most likely ethnic/racial group to carry out mass public shootings. Non-Middle Eastern Whites and Hispanics who engage in these attacks are underrepresented as a share of the population. Blacks, Asians, and American Indians commit these attacks at a slightly higher rate than their share of the population.

Seventy-one percent of mass public shooters have no identifiable political views.

But you would never know this from Biden’s constant claim that white supremacists pose the biggest threat of domestic terrorism or all the entertainment television shows that push this theme.

Instead, the media is intent on construing any attack by a white shooter as an act of “white supremacy.” A tragic event such as a mass shooting should be a time for renewed solidarity. We shouldn’t let the media divide us by making these tragedies about race and politics.

Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center. Until January 2021, he was the senior adviser for research and statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy.