Unfortunately, in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo by an avowed white supremacist, caricatures and stereotypes of white nationalism are flying around on social media. Accusatory fingers are being pointed, primarily at various conservatives, without even attempting to find out what actually influenced the guman (note: I am purposely not using his name in this essay),. If we are serious about wanting to confront and defeat this evil—as I hope we are—then it would be helpful to do so from an informed position. Then we could target the actual problem, rather than randomly lashing out in every direction, as so many seem to be doing.
Before proceeding further, let me first express my feelings of grief and sympathy for those targeted by this deranged young man. I am proud to call blacks and Jews, the two groups he hates the most, fellow Americans and friends.
Interestingly, the manifesto this white supremacist wrote confirmed my description of white nationalism in my recent book, Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism. First, he completely rejects Christianity, even professing not to believe in any kind of afterlife. This debunks the common view being promoted in the main-stream media that white nationalists are motivated by religion, especially evangelical Christianity. On the contrary, he continually claims that he is a man of reason and logic, and he tries to demonstrate that his racist views are actually scientific, not based on religion or emotion.
He also appeals to science to explain why races are unequal. According to this young man—and most white nationalists today—races arose through biological evolution. He argues that races are subspecies that have diverged, not only in physical traits, but also in their mental and moral characteristics. He believes that the white race has evolved to have higher intelligence and that blacks have evolved with greater biological tendencies to crime, rape, and other immoral behavior.
Built upon this Darwinian framework, he became obsessed with what he considers the on-going competition between races in the struggle for existence. To be sure, he does not actually use the term “struggle for existence,” but he does use the term “struggle” a number of times. He also describes the Darwinian struggle for existence, which is competition between organisms to out-reproduce other organisms. Darwin stated that this struggle was most intense within a species, and he also proclaimed in The Descent of Man that some indigenous races were being driven to extinction by other races (primarily the Europeans) in the human struggle for existence.
White supremacists, including the Buffalo mass murderer, are obsessed with the differential reproductive rates between the races, believing that this will result in the defeat of the white race in the Darwinian struggle. Their “replacement theory” is intended as a warning that the white race will be replaced by other races.
This mass murderer’s manifesto also explodes another myth about white nationalism: that it is kin to conservatism and the political right. Before he embraced white nationalism, he considered himself a communist. Though he came to reject Marxism and much of the political left, he still is intensely anti-capitalist and blames the Jews for controlling the capitalist system. He does not fit easily on the political spectrum, but he avows, “On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist.” He also specifically criticized conservatism, stating, “Conservatism is dead. Thank god. Now let us bury it and move on to something of worth.”
Instead of using atrocities such as this one to score political points, it would be more salutary to address the root problems. Perhaps a first step would be to call the younger generation to embrace the immortal words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” No, our nation has not always lived up to these ideals, not even Jefferson, who penned these words. However, this ideal is much preferable to the white supremacist view (and also the view of many Nietzscheans and postmodernists) that all men evolved differently and have no rights, other than what their power grants them.
Richard Weikart is emeritus professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and author of seven books, including Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism. He is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He has appeared in seven documentaries and dozens of radio and podcast interviews.