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FTR #1003 School Shootings and Fascist Groups, Part 2

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Patrick Edward Purdy

Introduction: 

Public schools and public education are, and for many years have been, the focal point of right-wing activity. From dissatisfaction over mandated school desegregation to opposition to the judicial ban on prayer in public schools to the present-day draconian slashing of public education budges, the right has attacked the public education. At the same time, the right has promoted the use of public funds for parochial schools and home schooling as alternatives to public education.

The formative experience of public school attendance might well be viewed as fundamental to young peoples’ socialization process–learning to share, acquiring tolerance for those of different backgrounds and learning the basics of civic life  in America.

Public schools have also come under attack–quite literally–from armed fascists.

This is the second program dealing with school shootings and the role fascist groups play in the development of such incidents. The broadcast begins with a brief summary and recap of key points of discussion from FTR #1002They include:

  1. Patrick Purdy’s apparent links to Aryan Nations.
  2. Purdy’s anti-Asian xenophobia, deeming that Americans were being edged out in their own homeland.
  3. The Order’s attempts at developing mind control techniques.
  4. Purdy’s involvement with the Unification Church.
  5. The profound effect of school shootings on both parents and students of affected institutions. School shootings fundamentally undermine peoples’ sense of comfort and create an anxiety conducive to the implementation of totalitarianism.
  6. The provision of Oliver North’s martial law contingency plans to use paramilitary right-wingers as federal deputies.

Discussion proceeds to the Florida high school shooting. Mort Sahl’s observation decades ago that “A liberal’s idea of courage is eating at a restaurant that hasn’t been reviewed yet” is exemplified by journalists’ retraction of the story of Parkland, Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz being affiliated with the ROF because of what might be termed “reverse trolling.” A post on a chat group about the Cruz/ROF link was deemed to be false. Jordan Jereb told journalists that Cruz was a member of his group, but that he hadn’t seen him in a long time. He has been said to be “walking that back.” Just HOW does one “walk that back?” ” . . . . The ADL said ROF leader Jordan Jereb told them Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tallahassee, said Cruz was brought into the group by another member and had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, the ADL said. . . . Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in ‘some time’ but said ‘he knew he would getting this call.’ . . . .”  Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would getting this call.”

Whether or not Nikolas Cruz was formally networking with the Republic of Florida or other neo-Nazi groups, he was indeed a neo-Nazi in spirit: It turns out that Cruz had swastikas etched onto his ammunition magazines used during the attackThis reminds us of the jottings Patrick Edward Purdy had on his weapons and clothing.

Cruz didn’t just suddenly adopt a neo-Nazi worldview. He’s been stewing in these juices for years, and clearly had additional mental health issues.

Several factors greatly exacerbate the school shooting phenomenon.

The Steam gaming app, a major distributor for very popular video games, has a neo-Nazi problem–neo-Nazis are using its chat room and voice-over-IP options to promote their ideology. Both the Daily Stormer and Andrew Auernheimer have Steam chat rooms, as does AtomWaffen.

On these forums, there are 173 different groups championing school shooters, lauding them as heroes and setting the stage for future incidents. ” . . . . A leading gaming app that is popular with adherents of the neo-Nazi wing of the alt-right movement has at least 173 groups dedicated to the glorification of school shootings, according to a report published last week by Reveal News. . . .”

In addition, Nazi groups are actively recruiting depressed people! ” . . . . For years, members of the alt-right have taken advantage of the internet’s most vulnerable, turning their fear and self-loathing into vitriolic extremism, and thanks to the movement’s recent galvanization, they’re only growing stronger. . . . According to Christian Picciolini, a former neo-nazi who co-founded the peace advocacy organization, Life After Hate, these sort of recruiting tactics aren’t just common, but systematically enforced. ‘[The recruiters] are actively looking for these kind of broken individuals who they can promise acceptance, who they can promise identity to,’ Picciolini said in an interview with Sam Seder. . . .”

Although not included in the audio portion of the program due to the limitations of time, we note that, in our opinion, the presence of lethal, military-style firearms are not, by themselves, the primary factor in the epidemic of school shootings and other mass casualty firearms attacks. A would-be school shooter can always purchase a pump-action, 12-gauge shotgun, saw it off and precipitate considerable mayhem.

Many of the school shootings have been performed by fascists of one stripe or another, manifesting the type of actions advocated by the likes of Michael Moyniahan, James Mason and their fellow travelers. Mason and his role model Charles Manson are now viewed favorably by a segment of the Nazi movement. The role of nihilist/fascist ideology in motivating some of the school shooters should be factored into the discussion.

The role of the media in conditioning young people to kill is a major focal point of the book On Killing by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, who taught psychology at West Point. From Amazon’s promotional text for Grossman’s book: “The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young. Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come.”

Our high body-count movies and TV programs, as well as point-and-shoot video games, according to Grossman, replicate to a considerable degree the audio-visual desensitization techniques used by contemporary armies to help recruits overcame their inhibitions about killing. We suggest Grossman’s thesis as a factor in the school massacres.

Program Highlights Include:

  1. The paramilitary right-wing Oath Keepers deployment of heavily armed cadre outside of schools.
  2. Discussion of how the likes of Stewart Rhodes and his Oath Keepers are the type of paramilitary right-wingers who would be deputized in the event of an activation of martial law contingency plans.
  3. The online disparagement of Parkland high school students by the “Alt-Right.”
  4. The use of the C14 militias in Ukraine to enforce public order in Kiev (the capital) and 21 other cities. The organization takes its name from the 14 words of David Lane, a member of the Order. One of that group’s founders was highlighted at the beginning of FTR #1002, noting his quest to obtain sophisticated weaponry and to develop mind-control techniques.

1. The program begins with a brief summary and recap of key points of discussion from FTR #1002They include:

  1. Patrick Purdy’s apparent links to Aryan Nations.
  2. Purdy’s anti-Asian xenophobia, deeming that Americans were being edged out in their own homeland.
  3. The Order’s attempts at developing mind control techniques.
  4. Purdy’s involvement with the Unification Church.
  5. The profound effect of school shootings on both parents and students of affected institutions. School shootings fundamentally undermine peoples’ sense of comfort and create an anxiety conducive to the implementation of totalitarianism.
  6. The provision of Oliver North’s martial law contingency plans to use paramilitary right-wingers as federal deputies.

2a.  In the wake of the Florida high school shooting, an under-reported and subsequently retracted aspect of the killings concerns accused shooter Nikolas Cruz’s participation (including weapons training and political indoctrination) with the Republic of Florida. The ROF is ” . . . a white supremacist group . . . .” It describes itself:  “. . . .  as a ‘white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics’ and seeks to create a ‘white ethnostate’ in Florida. . . .”

Of particular interest in analysis of the Florida shooting is the advocacy on the part of ROF leader Jordan Jereb for the “lone wolf/leaderless resistance” strategy: ” . . . . A training video the group posted online shows members practicing military maneuvers in camouflage clothing and saluting each other, along with music with the lyric: ‘They call me Nazi / and I’m proud of it.’ In the weeks before the attack, on Gab, a social media network sometimes used by white nationalists, Jereb had recently praised Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik as a ‘hero.’ He also posted a diagrammed strategy for using the Republic of Florida militia to create ‘lone wolf activists.’ . . . .”

Nikolas Cruz (insert at left)

Several considerations to be weighed in connection with the incident:

  • Whether by coincidence or design, this incident has fundamentally eclipsed discussion of the Trump administration’s brutal budgetary proposals, not unlike the fashion in which Stephen Paddock’s gun play in Las Vegas eclipsed discussion of the GOP tax proposals.
  • In Miscellaneous  Archive Show M55, we noted the Nazi and Unification Church links of one of the prototypical school shooters, Patrick Edward Purdy. Like Cruz, he had  links to Nazi groups and–in the Moonies–a mind control cult with strong intelligence and Japanese fascist links.
  • In FTR #’s 967 and 995, we noted that the Nazi Atomwaffen Division, which also gives paramilitary instruction, makes ISIS-style videos advocating “lone wolf/leaderless resistance” attacks, was linked to a Florida National Guardsman who was planning to attack a nuclear power plant. Given that many of the Nazi/white supremacist groups have fluctuating memberships and often overlap each other as a result, it would not be surprising to find that Atomwaffen Division and ROF have some commonality.
  • Mort Sahl’s observation decades ago that “A liberal’s idea of courage is eating at a restaurant that hasn’t been reviewed yet” is exemplified by journalists’ retraction of the story of Cruz being affiliated with the ROF because of what might be termed “reverse trolling.” A post on a chat group about the Cruz/ROF link was deemed to be false. Jordan Jereb told journalists that Cruz was a member of his group, but that he hadn’t seen him in a long time. He has been said to be “walking that back.” Just HOW does one “walk that back?” ” . . . . The ADL said ROF leader Jordan Jereb told them Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tallahassee, said Cruz was brought into the group by another member and had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, the ADL said. . . . Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in ‘some time’ but said ‘he knew he would getting this call.’ . . . .”  Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would getting this call.”

  “Florida school shooting suspect linked to white supremacist group: ADL” by Aaron Katersky, Noor Ibrahim, Josh Margolin, Brian Epstein; ABC News; 02/15/2018

The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights watchdog, told ABC News they have information they believe to be credible linking Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooting suspect, to a white supremacist group called Republic of Florida. The ADL said ROF leader Jordan Jereb told them Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tallahassee, said Cruz was brought into the group by another member and had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, the ADL said. Law enforcement officials have not confirmed the link.

ROF has mostly young members in north and south Florida and describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics” and seeks to create a “white ethnostate” in Florida.

Three former schoolmates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group frequently and was often seen with Jereb, who also confirmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group.

Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would getting this call.” He would not comment further but emphasized that his group was not a terrorist organization.

Family members, classmates and former friends described Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, as a troubled teen who was largely alone in the world when he allegedly stormed through the school carrying an AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines.

He was able to leave the school after the shooting by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, but he was apprehended shortly thereafter. He has been answering questions from investigators working on the case.

Cruz was adopted as an infant, but he had been living with the family of a classmate after the sudden death of his adoptive mother late last year. His adoptive father died in 2005.

In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, an attorney for the family that had taken Cruz in for the past few months said Cruz was “depressed” following his mother’s death but he had been going to therapy.

The family is still “shocked,” he said, that Cruz would allegedly engage in mass violence.

“They indicated they saw nothing like this coming,” Lewis said. “They never saw any anger, no bad feelings about the school.”

They were aware that Cruz was in possession of a military-style assault weapon, he said, which two law enforcement officials tell ABC News was legally purchased by Cruz within the past year from a federally licensed dealer. They insisted that it be locked in a safe.

“He brought it into the home and it was in a locked gun safe,” Lewis said. “That was the condition when he came into their home that the gun was locked away.”

Cruz’s former classmates, however, were less surprised.

A student who told ABC News that he participated in Junior ROTC with Cruz described him as a “psycho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthusiast, the student said, who once tried to sell knives to a classmate.

Another student told ABC News that before Cruz was expelled from the school he was barred from carrying a backpack on campus. The classmate said the rule was put in place after the school found bullet casings in his bag after a fight with another student.

One student said Cruz even once threatened to “shoot up” the school.

“About a year ago I saw him upset in the morning,” student Brent Black told ABC News. “And I was like, ‘yo what’s wrong with you?’ And he was like ‘umm, don’t know.’ And I was like ‘what’s up with you?’ He’s like ‘I swear to God I’ll shoot up this school.’ And then I was like ‘watch what you’re saying around me,’ and then I just left him after that. He came up to me later on the day and apologized for what he said.”

On Thursday, the FBI issued a statement saying that it was alerted in 2017 to a threat on YouTube by someone who said “I am going to be a school shooter.”

“In September 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel. The comment said, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” No other information was included in the comment which would indicate a particular time, location, or the true identity of the person who posted the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews and other checks, but was unable to further identify the person who posted the comment.”

According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, investigators have already found some “disturbing” content on social media that could have provided warning signs.

“We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on, and some of the things that have come to mind are very, very disturbing,” Israel said.

The photos posted on an Instagram account law enforcement sources tell ABC News belongs to the suspected shooter shows a young man displaying an arsenal of weapons.

2b. More about the Republic of Florida:

 “Attorney: Florida shooting suspect is ‘sad, mournful, remorseful’ and ‘a broken human being’” by Matt Pearce, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Jenny Jarvie; The Los Angeles Times; 02/15/2018

The expelled student accused of killing 17 people at his former South Florida high school is “sad, mournful, remorseful” and “he’s just a broken human being,” one of his attorneys told reporters Thursday.

After a judge ordered Nikolas Cruz, 19, held without bond as he faces 17 counts of premeditated murder, defense attorney Melissa McNeil said that Cruz was “fully aware of what is going on,” but had a troubled background and little personal support in his life before the attack.

Cruz appeared via video, in an orange jumpsuit and with his head slightly bowed, for an initial Broward County court hearing Thursday.

Meanwhile, investigators were scouring Cruz’s social media posts for possible motives or warning signs of the attack. Several social media accounts bearing Cruz’s name revealed a young man fascinated by guns who appeared to signal his intentions to attack a school long before the event.

Nine months ago, a YouTube user with the handle “nikolas cruz” posted a comment on a Discovery UK documentary about the gunman in the 1966 University of Texas shooting that read, “I am going to what he did.”

Other past comments by YouTube users with Cruz’s name reportedly included one remark in September, saying: “Im going to be a professional school shooter.” At a news briefing in Florida, Robert Lasky, the FBI special agent in charge, confirmed that the FBI had investigated that comment. But he said the agency couldn’t identify the person in question.

In another post on Instagram, where he posted photos of himself in masks and with guns, Cruz wrote anti-Muslim slurs and apparently mocked the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which means God is greatest.

Confusion also swirled after the leader of a white nationalist militia said that Cruz had trained with his armed group, a claim that drew wide attention but could not be immediately verified.

The leader of the Republic of Florida militia, Jordan Jereb, told researchers at the Anti-Defamation League that Cruz had been “brought up” into the group by one of its members, the ADL said in a blog post. ABC News also claimed to have spoken to three people who verified Cruz’s membership, but some white nationalists expressed concern that the news outlet may have been targeted by a coordinated hoax.

The Republic of Florida calls itself “a white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics” on its website, adding that its “current short-term goals are to occupy urban areas to recruit suburban young whites” in pursuit of “the ultimate creation of a white ethnostate.”

A training video the group posted online shows members practicing military maneuvers in camouflage clothing and saluting each other, along with music with the lyric: “They call me Nazi / and I’m proud of it.”

In the weeks before the attack, on Gab, a social media network sometimes used by white nationalists, Jereb had recently praised Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik as a “hero.” He also posted a diagrammed strategy for using the Republic of Florida militia to create “lone wolf activists.”

Jereb later told the Associated Press that he didn’t know Cruz personally and that the group had no knowledge of his plans for the violent attack. “He acted on his own behalf of what he just did, and he’s solely responsible for what he just did,” Jereb said.

2c. Here’s some additional evidence  that, whether or not Nikolas Cruz was formally networking with the Republic of Florida or other neo-Nazi groups, he was indeed a neo-Nazi in spirit: It turns out that Cruz had swastikas etched onto his ammunition magazines used during the attackThis reminds us of the jottings Patrick Edward Purdy had on his weapons and clothing.

“Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas on ammunition magazines”; CBS News; 02/27/2018

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas ammunition magazines he brought into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, a federal law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation told CBS News on Tuesday. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Cruz had 180 rounds of ammunition left, a source confirmed to CBS News.

Sources told CBS News that Cruz broke a third-floor window, possibly to fire upon people from above. Sources say he tried to create a “sniper’s nest” by shooting out the window, firing 16 rounds into the glass, CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports. But the hurricane-proof glass appeared to have stopped it from shattering, Bojorquez reports.

Investigators believe the suspect tried to reload, but after changing magazine clips, his gun may have jammed, Bojorquez adds. Cruz then allegedly put down his weapon and left the building, blending in with other students.

Police said Cruz told them he had “brought additional loaded magazines to the school campus and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got on campus to begin his assault.”

Cruz is accused of opening fire at the high school in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, killing 17 people and wounding 15 others. On Feb. 15, investigators said Cruz told them that as students began to flee, he decided to discard his AR-15 rifle and a vest he was wearing so he could blend in with the crowd. Police recovered the rifle and the vest.

It’s still unclear why the suspect stopped shooting.

Since the massacre, disturbing details of Cruz’s past have come to light. While the motive remains unclear, a YouTube commentator with his name posted on a video: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

Cruz was transferred to a school with programs for emotionally and disabled students when he was in eighth grade but wanted to be mainstreamed back into his home school, Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie said Tuesday.

The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated Cruz in 2016, and police records show deputies went to his home more than three dozen times. Starting in January 2016, Cruz was allowed to spend half his day at the alternative school and half at Stoneman Douglas to ease him into the less-structured environment.

In August 2016, he started back at Stoneman Douglas, but “the situation had deteriorated” by November, Runcie said. That’s when Cruz, who had turned 18 in September 2016, refused the mental health services offered by the school. Runcie said Cruz had the support of his mother.

He remained at the school until February 2017, when school officials finally decided to remove him after unspecified behavior issues. He was told his only option was an alternative school.

Jordan Jereb, the leader of white nationalist group Republic of Florida, had initially claimed Cruz was a member of his group but later walked back the claim and local law enforcement said there was no proof that Cruz and Jereb ever met.

2d. Cruz didn’t just suddenly adopt a neo-Nazi worldview. He’s been stewing in these juices for years, and clearly had additional mental health issues–the”Alt-Right” Nazi groups specifically target depressed people to take advantage of their disorders.

“Nikolas Cruz Was a Racist. Does That Make His Attack Terrorism?” by Dean Obeidallah; The Daily Beast; 03/01/2018.

On Tuesday, we learned a new, bone-chilling fact about the Parkland, Florida high school gunman Nikolas Cruz that should’ve made national headlines but didn’t. That new development was that Cruz had etched swastikas on the ammunition magazines he carried on the day he committed his brutal massacre that took 17 lives.

When I first heard of this development, my jaw dropped for two reasons. First, does anyone actually believe if Cruz had etched the words “Allah Akbar” on his gun magazines we wouldn’t have heard about that for nearly two weeks after the attack? No way. I can assure you that information would’ve been made public, intentionally or by way of a leak. And then Donald Trump would almost certainly have pounced–without waiting for additional evidence–to label this an Islamic terror attack and try to use it to further his own political agenda.

But what also was shocking is that despite this new piece of evidence, together with Cruz’s known history of hate directed at people of color and Jews, we aren’t seeing a fuller discussion in the media about whether this shooting was inspired by Cruz’s apparent white supremacist ideology.

As CNN had reported within days of the February 14 attack, Cruz had in the past spewed vile comments in a private Instagram chatroom where he shared his hatred of “jews, ni**ers, immigrants.” Cruz also wrote about killing Mexicans and hating black people simply because of their skin color and he slammed Jews because in his twisted view they wanted to destroy the world.

And Cruz’s white supremacist views also made their way from the online world to the real world. One of Cruz’s classmates reportedly told a social worker that Cruz had drawn a swastika on his book back next to the words “I hate ni***rs.” He also shared with other students his “hating on” Islam and slamming all Muslims as “terrorists and bombers.” And Cruz was also seen wearing a Trump MAGA hat when he was enrolled in school well before the attack.

While initial reports that Cruz was actually a member of a white supremacist group proved to be unfounded, there’s no disputing Cruz’s documented history of spewing despicable views that line up with the white nationalist ideology. But still, given all that we’ve now learned, the question I have is: How much more evidence do we need before we discuss in earnest whether Cruz’s white supremacist views played a role in this attack?!

True, there’s no evidence that Cruz targeted any specific group of people during his rampage. But then again, ISIS-inspired terrorists who have committed acts of terror on U.S. soil, such as the man who intentionally drove a truck on a New York City pedestrian walkway in 2017 that killed eight, didn’t target any specific race or religion. He and others like him committed acts of terror in furtherance of their sick, perverted ideology—to spread terror.

And the swastikas on Cruz’s gun magazines take on a greater significance when you examine the shooting itself. Of the 17 people Cruz killed, at least five were Jewish. (Some reports note it could be six.) Even more disturbing is that Cruz had reportedly shot bullets into a Holocaust history class that killed two of those students. Did Cruz intentionally target that class since he had formerly been a student at the school? We don’t know but given Cruz’s history this is certainly a fair question. And since he’s that rare mass-shooter who’s still alive, I presume he’ll be asked.

In fact, the question of whether Cruz’s gun massacre was an anti-Semitic attack inspired by a white supremacist ideology was raised in an op-edin the liberal Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz even before we learned about the swastikas on Cruz’s gun magazines. There, the writer noted that Cruz had expressed views “that Jews were part of a conspiracy to unseat white people from power and destroy the world.”In response to that article, the writer was subjected to an avalanche of vile anti-Semitic barbs.

Given these newly revealed swastikas, it’s long overdue that we have that conversation about whether Cruz was more than a troubled youth.And to be clear, Cruz was troubled. He had been repeatedly disciplined at school for disturbing behavior and for a period of time was placed in a special school for kids with emotional and behavior issues. On social media, he even wrote about his dream of becoming a “professional school shooter.” But when he was evaluated in 2016 by a mental health professional, he was determined to be stable and not in need of being involuntarily committed to a mental health institution.

So why does it matter if we raise the question of whether Cruz’s attack was inspired by his apparent white supremacist ideology? For two reasons.

First and foremost, it may save lives. We have seen a spike in the time of Trump of white supremacist violence and activities. As the Anti-Defamation League recently documented, there were 34 extremist-related deaths on U.S. soil in 2017. A majority of those, 18, were caused by white supremacists, while nine were caused by Islamic extremists.

Secondly, we need to end the media’s hypocrisy on this issue. If Cruz had been Muslim, we know from recent history that the media would’ve labeled this a terrorist attack without the in-depth analysis into the terrorist’s mental health. But if the killer is white, the media and many in our nation prefer to believe the person is mentally ill and try to avoid labeling him a terrorist. Just look at the case of Dylann Roof, who literally stated he had executed nine African Americans because he wanted to start a “race war,” yet few in the media referred to him as a terrorist..

In time we may learn the exact reason why Cruz committed his rampage. Perhaps it was truly the act of a clinically insane individual? Or maybe it was inspired by his white supremacist ideology? But given the evidence we have about Cruz together with the recent spike in white supremacist attacks on U.S. soil, it’s time we discuss whether Cruz’s rampage was a white supremacist terrorist attack. That’s the only way we can counter this growing threat.

3. The Steam gaming app, a major distributor for very popular video games, has a neo-Nazi problem–neo-Nazis are using its chat room and voice-over-IP options to promote their ideology. Both the Daily Stormer and Andrew Auernheimer have Steam chat rooms, as does AtomWaffen.

There’s also an overlapping problem with Steam chat forums that glorify school shooters. 173 such groups glorifying school shootings according to one count.

Steam isn’t the only popular gaming app that this neo-Nazi problem. Discord, another very popular app for gamers, also appears to have a number of chat rooms run by neo-Nazis. The Germanic Reconquista group of German neo-Nazis who were training people how to game Youtube’s algorithms did that training using Discord. And, again, Steam and Discord are both quite popular.

The 173+ popular video game chat forums on Steam that glorify school shooters are definitely part of the school shooting problem.

“Neo-Nazis, ‘Future School Shooters’ Using Leading Gaming App to Post Hateful Content in Hundreds of Groups: Report” by Michael Edison Hayden; Newsweek; 03/17/2018

A leading gaming app that is popular with adherents of the neo-Nazi wing of the alt-right movement has at least 173 groups dedicated to the glorification of school shootings, according to a report published last week by Reveal News. Separately, dozens of neo-Nazi groups have cultivated active communities on the app.

The report notes that these Steam groups—which typically have between 30 and 200 active members—glorify men like 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured over a dozen others in the vicinity of the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before committing suicide in 2014.

Rodger was a virulent misogynist and wanted to punish women for rejecting him. Other shooters, like Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech senior who killed 32 people in 2007, are also hailed in these Steam groups. The groups have names like “School Shooters Are Heroes” and “Shoot Up a School.” Some of them allude to “future” school shootings yet to take place and are filled with racist language.

The link between violence and the scattered culture of internet Nazism has received greater scrutiny in recent weeks, following a CBS News report that suspected Parkland, Florida, mass shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly possessed gun magazines engraved with swastikas. Gaming apps like Steam have become increasingly popular within that community.

One example of neo-Nazis using Steam is Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, who handles the technical side of the white supremacist troll website Daily Stormer, and several months ago appeared to threaten to “slaughter” Jewish children in retaliation for his website being taken offline. Auernheimer appears to have a group on the app, which discusses games in the context of whether they portray Adolf Hitler in a favorable light. The broader community of Daily Stormer also appears to have an active community on Steam called “Storm Sect” with roughly 200 members.

Other neo-Nazi groups on Steam have more overtly hateful and violent names like “Fag Lynch Squad,” which depicts shadowy figures hanging limply from nooses in its profile picture. AtomWaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group linked to a number of murders, had its community on Steam removed earlier this month, Reveal News reported.

Angela Nagle, a leftist writer, demonstrated links between the origins of the alt-right and gaming culture in her book Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right. The veneration of school shooters and other killers is similarly linked.

It is not only on Steam where neo-Nazis have found a platform within the gaming world. Discord, another gaming app, was instrumental to young neo-Nazis in planning the Unite the Right event that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, which led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. Discord has made efforts to remove violent and far-right content from its app following reports of the rally, but new groups continue to pop up on that platform.

Unicorn Riot, a volunteer media collective, published recordings and messages this week that appeared to reveal internal planning discussions from the young white supremacist group Patriot Front, which were initially hosted on Discord. Patriot Front splintered from Vanguard America, the group in which the man accused of killing Heyer allegedly marched during the protests in Charlottesville.

Discord told Newsweek in a statement that the company is still trying to purge groups like Patriot Front from its app.

“Discord has a Terms of Service and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere to. These specifically prohibit harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence,” a spokesperson said, noting that the group recently removed several offending servers. “Though we do not read people’s private messages, we do investigate and take immediate appropriate action against any reported Terms of Service violation by a server or user.”

4a. Overlapping the use of gaming chat forums to recruit depressed people.

“The Alt-right is recruiting depressed people” by Paris Martineau; The Outline; 02/26/2018

A video on YouTube entitled “Advice For People With Depression” has over half a million views. The title is generic enough, and to the unsuspecting viewer, lecturer Jordan Peterson could even look legitimate or knowledgable — a quick Google search will reveal that he even spoke at Harvard once. But as the video wears on, Peterson argues that men are depressed and frustrated because they don’t have a higher calling like women (who, according to Peterson, are biologically required to have and take care of infants). This leaves weak men seeking “impulsive, low-class pleasure,” he argues. Upon first glance he certainly doesn’t seem like a darling of the alt-right, but he is.

Type “depression” or “depressed” into YouTube and it won’t be long until you stumble upon a suit-clad white supremacist giving a lecture on self-empowerment. They’re everywhere. For years, members of the alt-right have taken advantage of the internet’s most vulnerable, turning their fear and self-loathing into vitriolic extremism, and thanks to the movement’s recent galvanization, they’re only growing stronger.

“I still wonder, how could I have been so stupid?” writes Reddit user u/pdesperaux, in a post detailing how he was accidentally seduced by the alt-right. “I was part of a cult. I know cults and I know brainwashing, I have researched them extensively, you’d think I would have noticed, right? Wrong. These are the same tactics that Scientology and ISIS use and I fell for them like a chump.”

“NOBODY is talking about how the online depression community has been infiltrated by alt-right recruiters deliberately preying on the vulnerable,” writes Twitter user @MrHappyDieHappy in a thread on the issue. “There NEED to be public warnings about this. ‘Online pals’ have attempted to groom me multiple times when at my absolute lowest.”

“You know your life is useless and meaningless,” Peterson says in his “Advice” video, turning towards the viewer, “you’re full of self-contempt and nihilism.” He doesn’t follow all of this rousing self-hatred with an answer, but rather merely teases at one. “[You] have had enough of that,” he says to a classroom full of men. “Rights, rights, rights, rights…”

Peterson’s alt-light messaging quickly takes a darker turn. Finish that video and YouTube will queue up “Jordan Peterson – Don’t Be The Nice Guy” (1.3 million views), and “Jordan Peterson – The Tragic Story of the Man-Child” (over 853,000 views), both of which are practically right out of the redpill/incel handbook.

The common railroad stages of ‘helpful’ linking to ‘motivational speakers’ goes ‘Jordan Peterson —> Stefan Molyneux —> Millennial Woes,” writes @MrHappyDieHappy. “The first is charismatic and not as harmful, but his persuasiveness leaves people open for the next two, who are frankly evil and dumb.” Molyneux, an anarcho-capitalist who promotes scientific racism and eugenics, has grown wildly popular amongst the alt-right as of late. His videos — which argue, among other things, that rape is a “moral right” — are often used to help transition vulnerable young men into the vitriolic and racist core of the alt-right.

Though it may seem like a huge ideological leap, it makes sense, in a way. For some disillusioned and hopelessly confused young men, the alt-right offers two things they feel a serious lack of in the throes of depression: acceptance and community. These primer videos and their associated “support” groups do a shockingly good job of acknowledging the validity of the depressed man’s existence — something men don’t often feel they experience — and capitalize on that good will by galvanizing their members into a plan of action (which generally involves fighting against some group or class of people designated as “the enemy”). These sort of movements allot the depressed person a form of agency which they may never have experienced before. And whether it’s grounded in reality or not, that’s an addicting feeling.

According to Christian Picciolini, a former neo-nazi who co-founded the peace advocacy organization, Life After Hate, these sort of recruiting tactics aren’t just common, but systematically enforced. “[The recruiters] are actively looking for these kind of broken individuals who they can promise acceptance, who they can promise identity to,” Picciolini said in an interview with Sam Seder. “Because in real life, perhaps these people are socially awkward — they’re not fitting in; they may be bullied — and they’re desperately looking for something. And the ideology and the dogma are not what drive people to this extremism, it’s in fact, I think, a broken search for that acceptance and that purpose and community.”

Some of the most toxic unofficial alt-right communities online have operated on this principle. r/Incels (which is now banned, thankfully), began as a place for the “involuntarily celibate” to commiserate, but quickly became the place for extreme misogynists to gather and blame their problems on women and minorities. “Men going their own way,” (MGTOW) was initially a space for men to commune and protect their sovereignty as dudes “above all else,” it devolved into an infinitely racist and misogynistic hellhole. Similar fates have befallen r/Redpill, r/MensRights, and countless others. Commiseration begets community begets a vulnerable trend towards groupthink.

While it’s easy to isolate purely hateful content, the type that preys upon the disenfranchised and uses much more insidious methods to bring them into the fold is much more difficult to manage on expansive platforms like YouTube. Particularly because the message being sent isn’t one of obvious in-your-face hate speech, or something so obviously objectionable, but rather more of a slow burn. It’s not the sort of thing you can train algorithms to spot — or at least, not yet — making the issue of containment that much harder to address.

4b. Further muddying the investigative waters is the fact that the Florida high school students who protested the ready availability of assault weapons have been targeted by right-wing commentators and internet forums.

“How Parkland Teens Became Villains on the Right-Wing Internet” by Abby Ohlheiser; Washington Post; 2/27/2018.

Less than a week after 17 people died in Parkland, Fla., right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza began taunting some of the teenage survivors of the massacre. “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” he tweeted on Feb. 20, commenting on a photo showing Parkland survivors crying as state legislators voted down a bill to ban military-style weapons.

D’Souza wrote another tweet, “Adults, 1, kids 0.” Combined, the two tweets have more than 25,000 likes and 8,000 retweets.

Now, five weeks after the Parkland school shooting, D’Souza’s tweets seem almost quaint. As Emma González, David Hogg and the other Parkland teens fighting for gun control have become viral liberal heroes, the teens are villains on the right-wing Internet and fair game for the mockery and attacks that this group usually reserves for its adult enemies.

That infamy reached a wider audience this past weekend around the time of their March for Our Lives protest, when a doctored image that showed González ripping up a copy of the U.S. Constitution (she actually ripped up a gun target) went mildly viral on the Trump-supporting parts of the Internet, defended as “satire” by those who shared it

Here’s a look back at how the Parkland student activists became such a target:

Day 1: Conspiracy theorists

The first to target the Parkland students were the conspiracy theorists. When a mass shooting like Parkland happens, conspiracy theorists begin to search for signs of a false flag — proof that the shooting was actually staged and/or carried out for political reasons — pretty much right away. They’re following what online trolling expert Whitney Phillips calls a “tragedy script”: The establishment is trying to take away your guns, they’ll use mass shootings to do that, and here are the tricks they use to manipulate the public. Anything irregular becomes conspiracy fodder.

An anonymous 8chan user told the fringe chat board to look for “crisis actors” just 47 minutes after the shooting happened. And if closed chat rooms and fringey boards such as 8chan, 4chan and some subreddits on Reddit are where conspiracy theorists coordinate, then Twitter is where those conspiracy theories — and the harassment that comes with them — are performed for the public. Within hours, anonymous Twitter users were in the mentions of students tweeting from their classrooms during the shooting, accusing them of being part of the conspiracy.

One Twitter thread, made just after midnight on the night of the attack, claimed to contain “Bombshell” information about Parkland. @Magapill (an account once approvingly retweeted by President Trump) shared a video interview with a student that has become the basis of a debunked Parkland conspiracy theory. The thread was retweeted more than 3,000 times.

All this happened before the Parkland students calling for gun control began their ascent to viral iconography. When they emerged, the campaign to discredit and debunk the Parkland students expanded. . . .

 5a. The Oath Keepers, a right-wing paramilitary group, are advocating to function as armed sentinels at public schools.

“Armed Extremist Militias Want to Patrol Schools After the Parkland Shooting” by Jerry Iannelli; The Miami New Times.; 02/27/2018

After the school massacre in Parkland two weeks ago, Mark Cowan, a grizzled man in Fort Wayne, Indiana, began standing outside the town’s North Side High School. With a handgun. And an AR-15 in his car.

As a local TV station reported last Friday, Cowan is one of 100 heavily armed, ideologically extreme “Oath Keepers” who have committed to “standing guard” outside Indiana schools to stop events like the Stoneman Douglas shooting from happening. The Oath Keepers are a fringe right-wing paramilitary group made up of former veterans and law enforcement officers who believe in “defending the Constitution” against perceived threats, which basically just means “gun-control laws.”

This unfortunately might be a preview of what’s in store for our dystopian future: As the hate-tracking Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted yesterday, Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes this week instructed group members to stand watch outside schools, and the group held a webinar last night encouraging members to “stand guard” outside random schools across the nation. The group’s Florida chapter is also encouraging local members to patrol outside schools around the Sunshine State.

“We will discuss what you can and must do to fix this problem effectively in your community and counter this bloodthirsty and calculated conspiracy to aid and abet mass murder,” the webinar’s announcement page reads. “The time to step up and answer the call is now. And the time to dig in our heels and take a firm ‘three percenter’ type stand against any further restriction on our right to keep and bear arms is now.”

 

The term “three percenter” refers to a discredited theory that only 3 percent of America’s population rose up to fight the British Army in the Revolutionary War. The “Three Percenters” is a separate militia closely aligned with Oath Keepers.

Though members repeatedly deny they support outright white nationalism and are instead just hard-core libertarians, the militias are often allied with white supremacists and tend to appear at the same rallies and events. SPLC notes the group operates on “a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans” and showed up with all-white, armed groups during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, “to protect white businesses against black protesters.”

Rhodes, the group’s founder, believes immigrants are intentionally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a “Communist subversive invasion” of the United States. He also believes Black Lives Matter and immigrant- rights groups are also part of a secret Marxist takeover of America. Oath Keepers were also heavily involved in Cliven Bundy’s 2017 armed insurrection against the federal government in the Nevada desert.

The groups also rose in popularity as a reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency. You’re free to guess why. In light of his political leanings, it appears Nikolas Cruz was far likelier to have been an Oath Keeper sympathizer than an antagonist.

The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, for example, sent operatives to the Unite the Right neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. Because they’re made up of fringe ex-military types, they seem as likely to fight off a perceived armed threat as they are to get pissed off and shoot a kid because his Lil Uzi Vert T-shirt resembled Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Oath Keepers have repeatedly propagated a claim that “all federal gun control is unlawful,” which is patently and provably false. Cowan, the so-called guard standing at North Side High in Fort Wayne, has misdemeanor battery convictions in his past, and school reps say they don’t think his presence makes anyone safer, especially because the campus already has an official armed guard.

“We understand he has a right to be out there, as he is not on our property,” a school district spokesperson told the Indiana TV station, “but we do not believe it adds to the safety of our students. At North Side, as at all of our schools, we have security procedures in place. In addition, at North Side, we have armed police officers in the building every day.”

It’s easy to see how the presence of a random, heavily armed conspiracy theorist could make a school-shooting situation worse. An Oath Keeper might sprint into a school after hearing gunshots and, say, riddle the wrong kid with rifle bullets. An arriving SWAT team would be forced to deploy resources to apprehend both a school shooter and an Oath Keeper, because both people would be inside the school armed with weapons and it would be impossible to tell who’s shooting whom or why.

Naturally, the Oath Keepers also support Florida’s proposed plans to arm teachers and place armed guards in schools, which passed through committee last night and awaits a floor vote in both chambers of the state Legislature.

Such is the quality of political discourse in Florida in 2018: Rather than make it more difficult for people like Cruz to buy AR-15 rifles, the Sunshine State will instead train gym teachers with acute osteoarthritis how to mow down students with a Desert Eagle, while armed vets who fear a coming race war will stand outside with assault rifles. Feel safer?

5b. Given the high likelihood that schools and neighborhoods won’t want a heavily armed far-right individual hanging around their neighborhood schools, what does Stewart Rhodes suggest his group do if their armed presence isn’t wanted? Just ignore them and do it anyway because it’s legal:

“Oath Keepers Want To Station Volunteer Armed Guards Outside Schools” by Allegra Kirkland; Talking Points Memo; 02/26/2018

Imagine if every school campus in the United States had its own volunteer security officer: a former police officer or military veteran equipped with an assault rifle.

That’s the dream of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.

In the wake of the February 14 massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school, Rhodes is calling on members of his far-right anti-government militia group to serve as unpaid and unaccountable armed school guards — whether teachers and students like the idea or not.

One Indiana Oath Keeper has already deployed to a local school, even though the school district says there’s no need for him to be there.

Rhodes wants the military and police veterans who make up Oath Keepers’ membership to volunteer for unpaid, rotating shifts at schools of all levels, and colleges, throughout the country. He and two other representatives of the fringe militia community will hold a webinar Monday night where they plan to encourage Oath Keepers to station themselves at schools “to protect the children against mass murder, and to help train the teachers and staff.”

“I think it’s essential,” Rhodes told TPM in a Monday phone call. “It’s part of our responsibility to do what we can.”

“And what we can do is be outside of schools so that we’re closer if an attack happens, or when one happens,” Rhodes continued. “We’ll be there to be a fast response.”

Oath Keepers came to prominence as part of the surge of right-wing extremism that marked the early years of the Obama administration. At the group’s core are efforts to stoke fear around outlandish conspiracy theories — that the federal government will disarm all citizens, impose martial law, and round Americans up into detention camps, among other scenarios.

Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, has referred to Hillary Clinton as “Herr Hitlery,” and “the dominatrix-in-chief,” and has said John McCain should be tried for treason and then “hung by the neck until dead.”

The group’s push for vigilante school security officers comes in the midst of a fraught national debate over how to curb school shootings like the one in Parkland that left 14 students and 3 staffers dead. President Donald Trump, the NRA and some GOP lawmakers all have suggested arming teachers who have firearms training, as a way to deter would-be school shooters — an idea Rhodes said he supports. But since training teachers will take time, he argues, it makes sense to use Oath Keepers volunteers in the interim.

The National Association of School Resource Officers and many school shooting survivors, including those from Parkland, strenuously oppose plans to arm teachers. Teachers may not feel safe wielding arms; students could get ahold of the weapons or get caught in crossfire; law enforcement could mistake an armed teacher or other non-uniformed school staffer for an assailant. The prospect of something going wrong seems even higher with non-vetted, non-professional members of a conspiratorial militia group volunteering services that schools did not ask for.

Rhodes’ response? “Tough.”

“If they don’t like it, too bad,” Rhodes said. “We’re not there to make people feel warm and fuzzy; we’re there to stop murders.”

“What I tell our people is don’t ask for permission,” Rhodes continued. “Let ‘em know what you’re doing and be as friendly as you can. But this is the reality we’re in right now.”

“Most schools have this retarded no-guns policy,” Rhodes added, calling such measures, “‘Alice in Wonderland,’ upside-down thinking.”

To avoid confusion, members will be asked to wear a “long-range identifier” like a sash or orange vest, as well as a “close-range identifier” one that copycats cannot imitate, Rhodes said. Before showing up, they’ll be asked to provide police with copies of their drivers’ licenses, descriptions of their outfits and descriptions of their vehicles and license plates.

Mark Cowan, an Indiana-based member of the Oath Keepers and an Army veteran, has since Friday posted himself outside North Side High School in Fort Wayne, wearing an Oath Keepers baseball hat and carrying a handgun and an AR-15.

“If somebody comes to this school or another school where we’re at, that school shooter is going to know, we’re not going to play games,” Cowan told local station WPTA. “You come to kill our kids, you’re dead.”

In other interviews with local media, Cowan has said he is complying with state law by parking his car just off of school grounds, and that he plans to remain there until the school, which already has an armed resource officer, introduces additional safety measures.

According to local news reports, Cowan was arrested last year in connection with a fight that involved his use of a deadly weapon, and pleaded guilty plea to a count of misdemeanor battery. He told WPTA that the incident involved his effort to protect two of his grandchildren, who were attacked by another man. The guilty plea does not prevent him from carrying a firearm under Indiana law.

TPM was not immediately able to reach Cowan. But Bryan Humes, a spokesperson for the Oath Keepers’ Indiana chapter, told TPM in a Monday phone call that Cowan is serving as “another set of eyes and ears” for North Side, which has some 1,800 students, and that other members of the group are interested in taking up similar posts.

“We’re just a little concerned that one officer, with the size of the building and the number of people, may not quite be adequate as far as being able to keep an eye on everything,” Humes said.

“He had a couple of students Friday come out from school during class and thank him for being out there,” Humes added. “He’s also had a couple of the local police and sheriff’s officers stop by and thank him for being out there.”

Captain Steve Stone of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department told TPM that Cowan notified him he would be stationed outside of North Side, and that he personally spread the message to the rest of the department. Stone declined to offer the department’s stance on the Oath Keepers’ presence, noting that Cowan is “not breaking the law.”

“I can’t speak on behalf of the department on the department’s view of having civilians like the Oath Keepers doing that, unfortunately,” Stone said, saying Sheriff David Gladieux was unavailable. “I can’t give you my personal opinion on whether it’s good or not.”

6a. For people who think the notion of paramilitary right-wingers being deputized as part of a martial law contingency plan, note what is happening in Ukraine.

Here’s another piece by Josh Cohen – a former USAID project officer for the former Soviet Union who does a decent job of calling out the neo-Nazi threat to Ukraine – on the growing ‘law enforcement’ role the neo-Nazi militias are assuming.

The Kiev city government recently signed an agreement giving C14 – the militia literally named after the white supremacist ’14 words’ slogan – the right to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets there. ” . . . . But connections between law enforcement agencies and extremists give Ukraine’s Western allies ample reason for concern. C14 and Kiev’s city government recently signed an agreement allowing C14 to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets; three such militia-run guard forces are already registered in Kiev, and at least 21 operate in other cities. . . .”

They’re also cracking down on political activists such as LGBT and anti-war proponents.

As the article also notes, while the far-right may not be winning at the ballot box, they have powerful political protection, because of the close relationship between Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and figures like Azov leader Andriy Biletsky and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteran who is now a high-ranking police official.

Avakov’s Peoples’ Party is the main partner in the parliamentary coalition led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. Should Petro Poroshenko decided to challenge Avakov and, as a result, the growing role of these neo-Nazi militias, his governing coalition might collapse. And that’s all part of why Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem isn’t just a problem of popular support for the neo-Nazi militias, although the level of popular support they enjoy is still disturbingly high.

“Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem” by Josh Cohen; Reuters; 03/19/2018

As Ukraine’s struggle against Russia and its proxies continues, Kiev must also contend with a growing problem behind the front lines: far-right vigilantes who are willing to use intimidation and even violence to advance their agendas, and who often do so with the tacit approval of law enforcement agencies.

A January 28 demonstration, in Kiev, by 600 members of the so-called “National Militia,” a newly-formed ultranationalist group that vows “to use force to establish order,” illustrates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peaceful, National Militia members in balaclavas stormed a city council meeting in the central Ukrainian town of Cherkasy the following day, skirmishing with deputies and forcing them to pass a new budget.

Many of the National Militia’s members come from the Azov movement, one of the 30-odd privately-funded “volunteer battalions” that, in the early days of the war, helped the regular army to defend Ukrainian territory against Russia’s separatist proxies. Although Azov usesNazi-era symbolism and recruitsneo-Nazis intoits ranks, a recent article in Foreign Affairs downplayed any risks the group might pose, pointing out that, like other volunteer militias, Azov has been “reined in” through its integration into Ukraine’s armed forces. While it’s true that private militias no longer rule the battlefront, it’s the home front that Kiev needs to worry about now.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea four years ago first exposed the decrepit condition of Ukraine’s armed forces, right-wing militias such as Azov and Right Sector stepped into the breach, fendingoff the Russian-backed separatists while Ukraine’s regular military regrouped. Though, as a result, many Ukrainians continue to regard the militias with gratitude and admiration, the more extreme among these groups promote an intolerant and illiberal ideology that will endanger Ukraine in the long term. Since the Crimean crisis, the militias have been formally integrated into Ukraine’s armed forces, but some have resisted full integration: Azov, for example, runs its own children’s training camp, and the careers section instructs recruits who wish to transfer to Azov from a regular military unit.

According to Freedom House’s Ukraine project director Matthew Schaaf, “numerous organized radical right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the volunteer battalions may have been officially integrated into state structures, some of them have since spun off political and non-profit structures to implement their vision.”Schaaf noted that “an increase in patriotic discourse supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia has coincided with an apparent increase in both public hate speech, sometimes by public officials and magnified by the media, as well as violence towards vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community,” an observation that is supported by a recent Council of Europe study.

In recent months, Ukraine has experienced a wave of unchecked vigilantism. Institute Respublica, a local pro-democracy NGO, reported that activists are frequently harassed by vigilantes when holding legal meetings or rallies related to politically-controversial positions, such as the promotion of LGBT rights or opposition to the war. Azov and other militias have attacked anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, media outletsart exhibitionsforeign students and Roma. Progressive activists describe a new climate of fear that they say has been intensifying ever since last year’s near-fatal stabbing of anti-war activist Stas Serhiyenko, which is believed to have been perpetrated by an extremist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slogan popular among white supremacists). Brutal attacks this month on International Women’s Day marches in several Ukrainian cities prompted an unusually forceful statement from Amnesty International, which warned that “the Ukrainian state is rapidly losing its monopoly on violence.”

Ukraine is not the only country that must contend with a resurgent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incorporate independent armed groups into its regular armed forces, as well as a continuing national sense of indebtedness to the militias for their defense of the homeland, make addressing the ultranationalist threat considerably more complicated than it is elsewhere. According to Schaaf and the Institute Respublica, Ukrainian extremists are rarely punished for acts of violence. In some cases — such as C14’s January attack on a remembrance gatheringfor two murdered journalists — police actually detain peaceful demonstrators instead.

To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hornets’ nest of fascists are false: far-right parties performed poorly in Ukraine’s last parliamentary elections, and Ukrainians reactedwith alarm to the National Militia’s demonstration in Kiev. But connections between law enforcement agencies and extremists give Ukraine’s Western allies ample reason for concern. C14 and Kiev’s city government recently signed an agreement allowing C14 to establish a “municipal guard” to patrol the streets; three such militia-run guard forces are already registered in Kiev, and at least 21 operate in other cities.

In an ideal world, President Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the interior ministry of far-right sympathizers, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Biletsky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov veteranwho is now a high-ranking police official. But Poroshenko would risk major repercussions if he did so; Avakov is his chief political rival, and the ministry he runs controls the police, the National Guard and several former militias.

As one Ukrainian analyst notedin December, control of these forces make Avakov extremely powerful and Poroshenko’s presidency might not be strong enough to withstand the kind of direct confrontation with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his power base could well produce. Poroshenko has endured frequent verbal threats, including calls for revolution, from ultranationalist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

Avakov’s Peoples’ Party status as the main partner in Ukraine’s parliamentary coalition increases Avakov’s leverage over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imperil Poroshenko’s slim legislative majority, and lead to early parliamentary elections. Given Poroshenko’s current unpopularity, this is a scenario he will likely try to avoid.

Despite his weak position, Poroshenko still has some options for reducing the threat from the far right. Though Avakov controls the Ukraine’s police and National Guard, Poroshenko still commands Ukraine’s security and intelligence services, the SBU, and could instruct the agency to cut its ties with C14 and other extremist groups. Poroshenko should also express public support for marginalized groups like the Roma and LGBT communities, and affirm his commitment to protecting their rights.

Western diplomats and human rights organizations must urge Ukraine’s government to uphold the rule of law and to stop allowing the far right to act with impunity. International donors can help by funding more initiatives like the United States Agency for International Development’s projects supporting training for Ukrainian lawyers and human rights defenders, and improving equitable access to the judicial system for marginalized communities. . . .

 

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #1003 School Shootings and Fascist Groups, Part 2”

  1. This article shows a recent sniper, Rex Whitman Harbour, who shot 3 people, followed the pattern of Nazi Leaderless resistance. Mr. Harbour admired Parkland Florida shooter, Nicholas Cruz. Harbour’s Facebook profile also shows that he liked numerous historical photos of German Nazis, including officers of the Panzerwaffe and Luftwaffe. He posted a comment on a photo of Nazi tank commander Kurt Knispel, who destroyed 168 Allied tanks, stating “Great work! Long live Germany!”.

    The scariest part of this Nazi link got almost no press coverage. Is there an organization which is able to keep this out of the mainstream news?

    https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/05/07/georgia-sniper-appeared-fascinated-nazis?utm_campaign=180510%20eNews&utm_medium=email&utm_source=EOACLK

    Georgia sniper appeared fascinated with Nazis

    May 07, 2018
    Bill Morlin and Nick R. Martin

    A Georgia freeway sniper, who apparently idolized a Florida mass shooter, also appeared fascinated with German Nazis and their World War II military machine.

    Rex Whitmire Harbour, 26, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after firing at seven vehicles, wounding three people, on Friday along a state highway in Gainesville, Georgia.

    Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said investigators later searched Harbour’s home in Snellville, Georgia, and “discovered a manifesto” stating his admiration for Nikolas Cruz, accused of fatally shooting 17 people in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

    “We found handwritten documents written by Mr. Harbour and they were very disturbing,” the sheriff told reporters. “He indicated that he idolized the [Parkland] mass shooter,” calling him a hero who inspired Harbour and gave him “courage and confidence.”

    “The remainder of the documents that I saw are very hate-filled in that regard,” Couch said. “It appeared that he was targeting all Americans. Why? That I don’t know.”

    Authorities haven’t specifically mentioned Harbour’s Facebook page, which shows he liked multiple pages set up in honor of German Nazis and one titled “Lovers of the German military forces 1933-1945.” The other pages he liked included a range of musicians and celebrities as well as multiple pages dedicated to “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his widow, Taya Kyle.

    Harbour’s Facebook profile also shows that he liked numerous historical photos of German Nazis, including officers of the Panzerwaffe and Luftwaffe.

    One of the photos Harbour liked on Facebook depicts Nazi leader Hermann Göring and his pet lion, while another is of Margarete “Gretl” Braun, Adolf Hitler’s sister-in-law and part of the Nazi inner circle.

    Harbour also posted a public comment on a photo of Nazi tank commander Kurt Knispel, who was credited with destroying 168 Allied tanks, writing: “Great work! Long live Germany!”

    After the highway shooting, investigators retrieved a trail camera showing Harbour taking a position in a wooden area adjoining the southbound side of the highway where the shootings occurred, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

    At least 17 shell casings were recovered, authorities said.

    As deputies responded to the scene, Harbour fled in a Buick that came to a stop in a roadway median where he shot himself. In the vehicle, investigators found three 9mm handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun and more than 3,400 rounds of ammunition.

    HERE IS ANOTHER ARTICLE FROM the Associated Press ON THIS: It reveals not only that writings suggest he viewed Florida suspect Nikolas Cruz as a “hero” who gave him “courage and confidence,” according to the Hall Count, Georgia sheriff said. but also that “He had the weapons, the ammunition and obviously the will to inflict a lot of harm and a lot of hate.”

    https://www.apnews.com/e0538bf801164cdba77eb3f5f9214fed/Sheriff:-Highway-sniper-%22idolized%22-school-shooting-suspect

    May 5, 2018

    Sheriff: Highway sniper idolized school shooting suspect

    GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A sniper who killed himself after firing on cars and injuring people on a Georgia highway idolized the Parkland, Florida school shooting suspect, a sheriff said Saturday.

    A sheriff says 26-year-old landscaper Rex Whitmire Harbour of Snellville, fired at least 17 times and hit at least seven vehicles traveling northbound on Georgia 365 outside Atlanta around noon on Friday. Two people were wounded and a third was hurt by broken glass. None of their injuries were life-threatening.

    Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch told a news conference that a deputy chased after a suspicious car pulling out of a wooded area adjacent the highway on Friday. He said the suspect shot himself in the head, and his car rolled to a stop. Harbour later died at Grady Memorial Hospital.

    Couch said investigators found three 9mm handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, a BB-gun, and more than 3,400 rounds of ammunition inside his vehicle. Then they searched Harbour’s home, where he lived with his parents, and found “hate-filled” handwritten documents.

    WSB-TV Atlanta reported that the sheriff said Harbour’s mother told investigators her son was mild-mannered and quiet. But the writings suggest he viewed Florida suspect Nikolas Cruz as a “hero” who gave him “courage and confidence,” the sheriff said.

    “What his motivation was other than just hate, we don’t know at this time,” Couch said. State investigators and the FBI turned up no criminal history. “He had the weapons, the ammunition and obviously the will to inflict a lot of harm and a lot of hate.”

    Posted by Mary Benton | May 10, 2018, 3:58 pm
  2. This article hints at a common theme among the alt-right relating to these increasingly common mass shootings. The incidents start by having online propaganda target white men between about 14 and 30 who are underemployed and frustrated with their lives:

    https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/nekvg8/why-do-young-alt-right-white-men-keep-killing-people-online-radicalization

    The Terrifying Trend of White Men Radicalized Online Becoming IRL Terrorists

    It’s no accident that young white guys with a fondness for the darkest part of the Internet are descending into far-right violence.

    David Neiwert
    May 17 2018, 11:01am
    vice.com

    The incidents keep piling up, like the cresting wave of an incoming tide.

    A young, self-described “sovereign citizen” is implicated in a mass shooting at a Waffle House in Tennessee that kills four nonwhite customers. An “involuntary celibate,” or incel, is arrested over a Toronto van attack that kills ten people. A young, apparent neo-Nazi involved in an online fascist group is arrested in Illinois with a large cache of weapons. Another young man in Georgia, who reportedly “idolized” the teenager who killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, opens fire on cars on a Georgia freeway, injuring two people before shooting himself.

    These incidents, all from within the past month or so, have variables, of course. Besides the settings, methods of violence, and kinds of weaponry used, distinct agendas seem to have undergirded them. But they all appear to generally fall under the far-right ideological umbrella.

    They also have something important in common: They were all committed by young white men who had apparently been radicalized online.

    That’s no accident. The surge of radical-right organizing by the mostly online alt right in recent years has, in fact, been consciously directed at precisely that demographic: white men between about 14 and 30, underemployed and frustrated with their lives. This radicalization, in and of itself, is not breaking news. What does seem novel to me, as a longtime observer of far-right organizing, is that the violence that always lurked under the surface of such rhetoric is now increasingly manifesting itself in extreme acts of lone-wolf aggression.

    The details of some of the motivations involved in recent incidents have not been entirely settled. 29-year-old Travis Reinking, the man accused in the Waffle House case, claimed a background of at least marginal involvement in the far-right sovereign-citizens’ movement. But it’s not at all clear that ideology inspired him to act out murderously, even if the fact that the dead were all black or Hispanic raises the distinct likelihood of a racial motivation in that crime. Reinking awaits trial in Tennessee.

    It’s also not clear what it means that Rex Whitmire Harbour, the 26-year-old accused of opening fire on passing cars on a Georgia freeway, venerated Parkland suspect Nikolas Cruz and left-behind a “hate-filled” message. Still, latching onto a notorious alleged mass shooter who reportedly had swastikas engraved on his ammo clips fits the general pattern here, as does Harbour’s apparent fascination with historical figures from Nazi Germany.

    Meanwhile, because of social-media messages and other evidence, it’s fairly clear that accused Toronto van attacker Alek Minassian, 25, was enraged by his lack of romantic success with women. He posted sympathetically about incels like himself, and wrote warmly of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who in May 2014 carried out a mass shooting in Isla Vista, California, that left seven dead (including himself) and more wounded after expressing similarly deranged ideas about sex. Then there’s 19-year-old Jakub Zak of Illinois, who stands accused of stockpiling weapons illegally as part of his fascist ideology—he was reportedly an active member of Patriot Front, an online hate group—and may have been involved in a number of other crimes as well.

    Again, the behavioral pattern we’ve seen intensify in recent weeks is not a brand new one. The modern archetype may have been set back in 2015 by Dylann Roof, the then-21-year-old South Carolina white man who walked into a black church in Charleston and murdered nine congregants. The rootless Roof, officially unaffiliated with any hate or extremist groups but a participant in their online activity, seems to have been driven to seemingly random violence at least in part by his absorption in conspiracy and online forums and chat rooms dedicated to hateful ideologies.

    Since then, at least 27 people were murdered and 52 more injured in attacks by mostly young men linked to the alt right and its online radicalization process before the incidents of the past month. They included a conspiracy theorist who allegedly stabbed his father to death at the height of an argument that appears to have been about Pizzagate, a Maryland student who allegedly stabbed a black man to death after he refused to move out of his way, and a Portland drifter accused of stabbing two commuters to death when they attempted to shut down his anti-Muslim tirade.

    Some incidents, including the Parkland shooting itself, remain fuzzy. On social media, Cruz was seemingly obsessed with violence, guns, and race, once posting on Instagram that “I hate Jews, niggers and immigrants.” It remains unclear to what extent that hatred fueled the shooting rampage. Likewise, the motives and intentions of a young white man who accidentally blew himself up while making bombs at his Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, home, remain under official wraps for now.

    Even so, the mechanism for this kind of radicalization is uniform: Disaffected young men are recruited by overt appeals to their egos and desire to appear heroic. The appeals often employ transgressive rhetoric, with everything from racist humor to threats of violence, making participants feel that they’re being edgy and dark. The main fodder for their evolving worldview, however, is conspiracy theories.

    These theories all tell the same larger narrative: That the world is secretly run by a nefarious cabal of globalists (who just happen to be Jewish), and that they employ an endless catalog of dirty tricks and “false flags” to ensure the world doesn’t know about their manipulations, the whole point of which ultimately is the enslavement of mankind. Each day’s news events can thus be interpreted through the up-is-down prism this worldview imposes, ensuring that every national tragedy or mass shooting is soon enmeshed in a web of theories about its real purpose.

    The precise far-right cause in question often seems less important than the broader resort to inflicting harm.

    “Glorification of violence generally among the estranged is its own ideology,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University in San Bernardino. “So, people with amorphous or offbeat philosophies often embrace violence as an ideology, not just a method. And they’re comfortable with dovetailing philosophies.”

    This radicalization appears to be spreading like kudzu: A young Montreal alt-right activist was recently outed by student journalists as one of the leading propagandists in the online neo-Nazi forums Iron March, working to signal-boost racist groups like Atomwaffen Division. Along similar lines, ProPublica recently exposed the membership of some Atomwaffen activists among the ranks of active-duty American military.

    The target demographic for online far-right radicalization could not be more clear. As Andrew Anglin, publisher and founder of the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, put it this January, “My site is mainly designed to target children.” Likewise, at the annual white-nationalist American Renaissance conference in Tennessee last month, longtime supremacists bragged of their recruitment efforts among younger people: “American Renaissance attendees are now younger and more evenly divided among the sexes than in the past” one speaker noted, before gushing over the white-nationalist college campus group Identity Evropa.

    When Americans have talked about online radicalization in the recent past, most of us tended to think of it in terms of radical Islamists from groups such as Islamic State, who have been known to leverage the technology to their advantage, particularly social media. But a study by terrorism expert J.M. Berger published way back in 2016 found that white nationalists were far outstripping their Islamist counterparts: “On Twitter, ISIS’s preferred social platform, American white nationalist movements have seen their followers grow by more than 600 percent since 2012. Today, they outperform ISIS in nearly every social metric, from follower counts to tweets per day.”

    Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center—the watchdog group with which I am affiliated—told me it “is definitely the case” that the violence SPLC has long warned against and carefully tracked is increasingly manifesting itself right now.

    “Online radicalization seems to be speeding up, with young men, particularly white men, diving into extremist ideologies quicker and quicker,” she said, adding, “the result seems to be more violence, as these examples indicate. It is a serious problem and we don’t seem to have any real solutions for it. These cases also show that an era of violence brought on by the Internet is indeed upon us, with no end in sight.”

    Yet the response to the string of acts has been strangely muted in the mainstream media, especially on cable news, where most discussions of the events have focused on issues around gun violence, or on the particulars of the noxious incel phenomenon. The online-radicalization thread that connects all these stories together is the gorilla that everyone tiptoes around in the room—and one America ignores at its own peril.

    Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

    Follow David Neiwert on Twitter.

    Posted by Mary Benton | May 19, 2018, 8:15 pm
  3. With a mass shooting seemingly every week in America, here’s a pair of articles reminding us that violent far right extremist ideologies really should be seen as one of the key factors driving this phenomena. It’s sort of a ‘well, duh’ kind of point. But since there doesn’t appear to be much recognition that these mass shooters have almost always been found to have immersed themselves in one form or extremist far right ideology or another, it’s an important ‘well, duh’ point.

    So here’s the first story reminding us on this: the release of ~1,200 pages of documents related to the Las Vegas shooting is giving us a better idea of what may have motivated Stephen Paddock. Surprise! Paddock appears to be a sovereign citizen who was super freaked out about government hurricane aid was a prelude to setting up FEMA camps and seizing guns and he talked about the need to ‘wake up’ the American people. And while we don’t have information explicitly saying that he did these shootings in order to carry out some sort of sovereign citizen goal, it’s hard to imagine such views didn’t play a role in his decision to gun down a crowd of people:

    The Guardian

    New documents suggest Las Vegas shooter was conspiracy theorist – what we know

    In the documents, those who encountered gunman Stephen Paddock say he expressed conspiratorial, anti-government beliefs characteristic of the far right

    Jason Wilson
    Sat 19 May 2018 06.00 EDT
    Last modified on Sat 19 May 2018 06.02 EDT

    What’s the latest development in the Stephen Paddock story?

    Stephen Paddock was the gunman who killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more last October, when he opened fire from the window of his room at the Mandalay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

    Yesterday, following legal action from news organizations, the Las Vegas police department released a trove of documents on the investigation, including statements from witnesses and victims.

    What did the document release tell us?

    Mostly the documents contain harrowing accounts from victims of Stephen Paddock’s shooting spree. There is also an interview with Paddock’s wife. As police said in the press conference announcing the release, there is nothing definitive in the material about Paddock’s motives for the massacre.

    But tantalizingly, people who encountered Paddock before his shooting say that he expressed conspiratorial, anti-government beliefs, which are characteristic of the far right.

    In a handwritten statement, one woman says she sat near Paddock in a diner just a few days before the shooting, while out with her son. She said she heard him and a companion discussing the 25th anniversary of the Ruby Ridge standoff and the Waco siege. (Each of these incidents became touchstones for a rising anti-government militia movement in the 1990s.)

    She says she heard him and his companion saying that courtroom flags with golden fringes are not real flags. The belief that gold-fringed flags are those of a foreign jurisdiction, or “admiralty flags”, is characteristic of so-called “sovereign citizens”, who believe, among other things, that the current US government, and its laws, are illegitimate.

    “At the time,” her statement says, “I thought, ‘Strange guys’ and wanted to leave.”

    Another man, himself currently in jail, says he met Paddock three weeks before the shooting for an abortive firearms transaction, in the carpark of a Bass Pro Shop. The man was selling schematic diagrams for an auto sear, a device that would convert semi-automatic weapons to full automatic fire. Paddock asked him to make the device for him, and the man refused.

    At this point Paddock launched into a rant about “anti-government stuff … Fema camps”. Paddock said that the evacuation of people by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) after Hurricane Katrina was a a “dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and … confiscating guns”.

    “Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” the man says Paddock told him. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”

    Why would someone be worried about Fema camps? Isn’t Fema there to help in emergencies?

    Yes, but for decades Fema has been incorporated into conspiracy theories promulgated by the anti-government far right.

    Some conspiracy-minded Americans believe that Fema’s emergency mission is a cover story. The real purpose of the agency is to build and maintain concentration camps, which will house dissident “patriots” after a declaration of martial law. The supposition is that the US government will turn on its citizens under the direction of the “New World Order”.

    This sounds implausible. Where did this idea come from?

    The short answer is that it has been a staple of the radical right for perhaps three decades.

    The first version of the Fema camp conspiracy theory was in the newsletters of the far right “Posse Comitatus” movement in the early 1980s. It was an update, or an adaptation, of the fears of foreign subversion that have animated the American populist right since the high tide of nineteenth-century nativism.

    Posse Comitatus, active especially in western states from the late 1960s, believed that the US was controlled by a Jewish conspiracy, which it referred to as ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government). It also promoted “Christian identity” theology, which held that the white race was the lost tribe of Israel, and that Jews were in league with Satan. At some point, they thought, America’s imposter government would round up and imprison white men.

    Apart from developing anti-government beliefs, Posse Comitatus’s crank legal theories laid the groundwork for a still-flourishing “sovereign citizen” movement.

    But the FEMA theory really took off during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Movement entrepreneurs like John Trochmann of the Militia of Montana elaborated the story in newsletters and in his infamous “Blue Book”, which was filled with pictures allegedly showing camps, trains loaded with Russian tanks and the arrival of “black helicopters” in preparation for the supposedly imminent New World Order takeover.

    Trochmann and others also claimed to have pictures of the facilities which would be used as concentration camps. These turned out to be army training grounds, federal prisons or as-yet unoccupied bases.

    These theories were nevertheless prevalent in a movement that some scholars say had up to 5 million sympathizers at its height. Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people when he bombed a federal building in 1995, also emerged from this anti-government milieu.

    Okay, but the militia movement faded away. Why are people still talking about this?

    While the militia movement declined (or at least went underground) in the years following McVeigh’s bombing, the Fema conspiracy theory has been kept alive by some very canny entrepreneurs in rightwing media.

    Glenn Beck might have endeavored to go legit since he started his own media company, but back in his blackboard days at Fox News, he peddled all manner of conspiracy thinking. In 2009, at the height of the Tea Party surge, he broached the topic on Fox & Friends, giving it more mainstream exposure than it had ever had.

    But the most consistent and unapologetic supporter of the theory is Alex Jones, who has built a career – and a growing media empire – on pushing the idea that a global elite is subverting US sovereignty. Jones has been talking about Fema camps since he got his start on cable access TV in the 1990s.

    These are just the high profile examples. The flourishing conspiracy community on platforms like YouTube and Reddit produces copious material “proving” the Fema camp theory.

    So what does this mean for the Paddock investigation?

    Police are not jumping to any conclusions about Paddock’s motives, and nor should we. But it is striking that there is evidence that he, like so many mass shooters, may have nurtured the ideas of the conspiracy-minded far right.

    Often such beliefs are viewed as harmless, and increasingly they have been normalized by the success of figures like Alex Jones. But we need to start taking seriously the possibility that they radicalize some people towards violence.

    ———-

    “New documents suggest Las Vegas shooter was conspiracy theorist – what we know” by Jason Wilson; The Guardian; 05/19/2018

    “But tantalizingly, people who encountered Paddock before his shooting say that he expressed conspiratorial, anti-government beliefs, which are characteristic of the far right.”

    Yep, Paddock was ranting like an over caffeinated Alex Jones fan in the period leading up to the shooting. One woman claims to have witnessed him and companion discussing the 25th anniversary of the Ruby Ridge standoff and the Waco siege just days before the mass shooting. And while Waco and Ruby Ridge are pretty standard topics for right-wingers to rant about, she also reportedly heard him talk about how courtroom flags with golden fringes aren’t real flags. And when someone who obsess about Waco and Ruby Ridge also happens to obsess about the validity of flag designs, they’re probably a sovereign citizen:


    In a handwritten statement, one woman says she sat near Paddock in a diner just a few days before the shooting, while out with her son. She said she heard him and a companion discussing the 25th anniversary of the Ruby Ridge standoff and the Waco siege. (Each of these incidents became touchstones for a rising anti-government militia movement in the 1990s.)

    She says she heard him and his companion saying that courtroom flags with golden fringes are not real flags. The belief that gold-fringed flags are those of a foreign jurisdiction, or “admiralty flags”, is characteristic of so-called “sovereign citizens”, who believe, among other things, that the current US government, and its laws, are illegitimate.

    “At the time,” her statement says, “I thought, ‘Strange guys’ and wanted to leave.”

    And then there’s the testimony from a man who allegedly met Paddock just three weeks before the shooting. The man was selling schematics for a device that would turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic ones. Paddock wanted him to build the device, the man refused, and the sale never happened. But according to this man, Paddock was ranting about FEMA and how Hurricane Katrina was a “dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and … confiscating guns”. Ominously and ironically, Paddock reportedly told the man, “somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves”:


    Another man, himself currently in jail, says he met Paddock three weeks before the shooting for an abortive firearms transaction, in the carpark of a Bass Pro Shop. The man was selling schematic diagrams for an auto sear, a device that would convert semi-automatic weapons to full automatic fire. Paddock asked him to make the device for him, and the man refused.

    At this point Paddock launched into a rant about “anti-government stuff … Fema camps”. Paddock said that the evacuation of people by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) after Hurricane Katrina was a a “dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin’ down doors and … confiscating guns”.

    “Somebody has to wake up the American public and get them to arm themselves,” the man says Paddock told him. “Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.”

    So is it possible Paddock planned his attack as some sort of bizarre attempt to ‘wake up’ the American people? And yes, shooting up a crowd of people doesn’t seem like the best way to ‘wake Americans up’ and get them to arm themselves in anticipation of a government gun grab. But don’t forget that there are few things that help the far right recruit better in the US than fears of a big gun grab by the government. So one of the most diabolically effectively strategies the far right can employ is to encourage enough mass shootings that the public calls for banning guns grows to the point where your typical gun nut can be easily radicalized.

    That’s just one of the ways far right violent ideologies can make mass shootings more likely: they’re the kinds of ideologies that are more than happy to encourage ‘lone wolf’ attacks as part of a general ‘strategy of tension’ framework. Use domestic terror to break down civic norms, create desperatation, and make a far right violent takeover more likely.

    If turns out Paddack was indeed a sovereign citizen there’s still the question of whether or not he had outside help or encouragement. And even if he did plan and execute this attack on his own there’s the question of whether or not he was inspired by a particular figure or movement. Something put this mass shooting attack idea in his head and planting violent ideas in people’s heads is sort of a far right speciality.

    Now let’s take a look at the signs of far right influence in another recent US mass shooting: the Santa Fe high school attack. The gunman, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, was a student at the school and it was his own art class that he shot up. It’s also been learned that his first victim was a girl who rebuffed his romances. So there’s certainly a very personal element in terms of the motive for the shooting. But as we should expect at this point, it turns out Pagourtzis’s social media accounts show signs of far right influence:

    The Daily Beast

    Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Texas Shooting Suspect, Posted Neo-Nazi Imagery Online
    Before allegedly killing at least eight people, he apparently posted online images of a Nazi medal, a musician favored by the alt-right, and a ‘born to kill’ T-shirt.

    Kelly Weill
    Kate Briquelet
    05.18.18 1:14 PM ET

    Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspected gunman who opened fire at a Texas high school on Friday morning, apparently posted photos of neo-Nazi iconography online, according to social media accounts flagged by classmates and reviewed by The Daily Beast.

    Pagourtzis, 17, was booked into Galveston County Jail for capital murder on Friday. He allegedly killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School, where he was a student. Explosive devices were left inside the school near Houston, authorities said. Pagourtzis reportedly had an assault-style rifle, shotgun, and pistol.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters that Pagourtzis said in journals he wanted to kill himself after the shooting. Instead, he surrendered to police.

    Pagourtzis told an investigator “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told,” according to court papers.

    Before his arrest was announced, two Santa Fe students also told The Daily Beast that Pagourtzis was the gunman and they confirmed a Facebook account with Pagourtzis’ name belonged to him. Attempts by The Daily Beast to reach Pagourtzis’ family were unsuccessful.

    On April 30, Pagourtzis apparently posted a T-shirt with “born to kill” printed on the front, boasting that it was custom-made.

    That same day, Pagourtzis posted multiple pictures of a duster jacket emblazoned with a variety of symbols including the Iron Cross, a German military award last given by the Nazis, and other pins. He said he equated the Iron Cross with “bravery.” Pagourtzis said a hammer and sickle meant “rebellion,” a rising sun meant “kamikaze tactics,” and a baphomet meant “evil.”

    Rey Montemayor III, a senior who said he played football with Pagourtzis confirmed the Facebook account to be the accused shooter’s.

    “I played football with him for three years,” Montemayor said. “People on the news said he was bullied a lot. I never seen him being bullied. I never bullied him. He was cool to me. I lifted with him a couple of times.”

    Montemayor said that when he was with Pagourtzis, “he was a really cool guy.” He said they played football together first semester.“He was quiet. He did keep to himself. That’s pretty much it,” Montemayor told The Daily Beast, adding that he never thought Pagourtzis would shoot up their school.“I know he was quiet and everything but any conversations we had in the locker room or in the field or after games, he never struck me as that person.”

    Candi Thurman, a junior at the school, also told The Daily Beast that Pagourtzis wore a coat similar to the one posted to his Facebook page.

    “The sketchy thing is, he wore a full-on black trench coat to school every day,” Thurman said, adding she hadn’t had a class with him since eighth grade. Montemayor said that in retrospect, Pagourtzis’ trench coat was odd.

    “Why would you wear a trench coat when it’s 100 degrees outside? When he first started wearing that trench coat, it was during the winter.” But in the hotter months, Pagourtzis didn’t take it off.

    Pagourtzis began wearing the coat at the beginning of the year.

    “It’s like 90 degrees outside and this guy is still wearing a trench coat,” Thurman said. “It should have been noted. That’s a red flag right there.”

    Other images on Pagourtzis’ now-deleted Facebook page suggest a possible interest in white supremacist groups. Pagourtzis uploaded a number of T-shirts that feature Vaporwave-style designs. Vaporwave, a music and design movement, has spawned a related movement called Fashwave, which borrows the same aesthetic but applies them to neo-Nazi subjects.

    Pagourtzis’ Facebook header image was the cover of an album by musician Perturbator. Perturbator’s music has been co-opted by members of the Fashwave movement, BuzzFeed previously reported. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer frequently includes Perturbator’s music in “Fashwave Fridays” posts.

    A still-live Instagram with Pagourtzis’ name has posts from April 24 showing an arcade-style game featuring a sniper rifle and another with a gun and knife on a bedspread captioned: “Hi fuc kers.”

    ———-

    “Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Texas Shooting Suspect, Posted Neo-Nazi Imagery Online” by Kelly Weill and Kate Briquelet; The Daily Beast; 05/18/2018

    “Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspected gunman who opened fire at a Texas high school on Friday morning, apparently posted photos of neo-Nazi iconography online, according to social media accounts flagged by classmates and reviewed by The Daily Beast.

    It’s become part of the American post-shooting ritual: first there’s a scramble to discover the identity of the shooter. Then there’s a scramble to search their social media presence get clues about their politics. And while there is the rare left-winger involved with these kinds of attacks, like James Hodgkinson, it’s nearly always someone with a history of expressing very right-wing views on social media.

    Sometimes they’re outright neo-Nazis, but not always. In this case we find Pagourtzis openly embracing President Trump, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, and Fox News which merely points towards very conservative views but not necessarily neo-Nazi views.

    But then there’s his photo of a jacket he put up on Instagram in recent weeks. The jacket contained five pins and he lists in the caption of the photo what each pin represents:
    Hammer and Sickle = Rebellion
    Rising Sun = Kamikaze Tactics
    Iron Cross = Bravery
    Baphomet = Evil
    Cthulhu = Power

    The Iron Cross is an obvious possible neo-Nazi symbol. And while many of latched onto the Hammer and Sickle to suggest that he actually held left-wing views, that’s the kind of assessment that ignores virtually all of the other indications of political views we have about the guy. Is the guy with an Iron Cross and Hammer and Sickle, and who also happens to be a big Trump/NRA/Fox News fan, more likely to be right-wing or left-wing? Hmmm…:


    On April 30, Pagourtzis apparently posted a T-shirt with “born to kill” printed on the front, boasting that it was custom-made.

    That same day, Pagourtzis posted multiple pictures of a duster jacket emblazoned with a variety of symbols including the Iron Cross, a German military award last given by the Nazis, and other pins. He said he equated the Iron Cross with “bravery.” Pagourtzis said a hammer and sickle meant “rebellion,” a rising sun meant “kamikaze tactics,” and a baphomet meant “evil.”

    And the chaotic nature of the pins Pagourtzis selected for that jacket potentially relates to the second big indication of possible far right influences: Pagourtzis Facebook page contained a number of T-shirts that feature Vaporwave-style designs. And his Facebook page header image was the cover of a Vaporwave album by musician Perturbator.

    So why is Vaporwave considered to be a possible sign of neo-Nazi influences? Because it’s a style of music that’s been embraced by the Alt Right, spawning other subgenres like “Fashwave” and “Trumpwave”. And the musician Pagourtzis happens to have as his Facebook header image, Perturbator, has specifically been embraced by sites like The Daily Stormer:


    Other images on Pagourtzis’ now-deleted Facebook page suggest a possible interest in white supremacist groups. Pagourtzis uploaded a number of T-shirts that feature Vaporwave-style designs. Vaporwave, a music and design movement, has spawned a related movement called Fashwave, which borrows the same aesthetic but applies them to neo-Nazi subjects.

    Pagourtzis’ Facebook header image was the cover of an album by musician Perturbator. Perturbator’s music has been co-opted by members of the Fashwave movement, BuzzFeed previously reported. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer frequently includes Perturbator’s music in “Fashwave Fridays” posts.

    As we can see, while being a fan of Perturbator doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a follower of white supremacist media, it’s certainly a sign you might follow white supremacist media, especially if you’re exhibiting lots of other signs like Pagourtzis.

    So it looks we can probably safely conclude that far right extremism likely played a role in two more of the recent US mass shootings. As will almost certainly be the case in future shootings. Duh.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 22, 2018, 4:23 pm
  4. Now that the man behind the recent wave of mail bombings, Cesar Sayoc, has been arrested and identified, we’re in the ‘who was he and why did he do this?’ phase of public analysis. And while much attention has understandably fallen on Sayoc’s insane pro-Trump white van – covered in window decals that look like a snapshot of right-wing, pro-Trump twitter postings – much less attention has been given to the fact that Sayoc appeared to be an ardent white supremacist and admirer of Adolf Hitler:

    Boston Globe

    Mass. native who supervised Cesar Sayoc in Fla.: ‘He spewed such garbage’

    By Danny McDonald Globe Staff
    October 27, 2018

    The Massachusetts native who hired Cesar Sayoc, the man who was charged in a nationwide mail-bomb scare Friday, to deliver pizzas in Florida described him as racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic.

    In a phone interview with the Globe Friday night, Debra Gureghian said Sayoc worked as a delivery driver at New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale for more than a year. He quit in January, she said.

    Gureghian, a 59-year-old who grew up on Cape Cod, attended Barnstable High School, and lived in Watertown before she moved to Florida to care for her ailing mother six years ago, said Sayoc would spew “anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish” rhetoric “everyday.”

    Gureghian said he told her that because she is a lesbian she is “deformed” and that she should be “put on an island with all the other gay people and burned.”

    “He spewed such garbage, it was so vile,” said Gureghian, who works as the restaurant’s general manager. “There’s so much hatred today.”

    Sayoc, who has a long criminal history, was charged Friday in the nationwide mail-bomb scare targeting prominent Democrats who have traded criticism with President Trump. The criminal complaint charges Sayoc with illegally mailing explosives, illegally transporting explosives across state lines, making threats against former presidents, assaulting federal officers and threatening interstate commerce.

    He used the same white van that was prominently featured in national news broadcasts and splashed on news sites on Friday to deliver pizzas, she said. The van was adorned with “a billion stickers,” she said. She said at times there were KKK stickers and at least one sticker with a bullseye over a photo of Hillary Clinton on the vehicle. Sayoc, she said, “loved Adolph Hitler.”

    “If you didn’t fit his profile, you should go to an island and the island should be obliterated,” said Gureghian, who worked in a civilian role for the Massachusetts State Police for 23 years before moving to Florida..

    Despite Sayoc’s bigoted worldview, Gureghian described him as a dependable worker, a reliable driver who was very clean.

    She said she was shocked to hear of Friday’s news.

    “I’m absolutely floored,” said Gureghian. “Never in a million years did I think something like this could happen.”

    ———–

    “Mass. native who supervised Cesar Sayoc in Fla.: ‘He spewed such garbage’” by Danny McDonald; Boston Globe; 10/27/2018

    “Gureghian, a 59-year-old who grew up on Cape Cod, attended Barnstable High School, and lived in Watertown before she moved to Florida to care for her ailing mother six years ago, said Sayoc would spew “anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish” rhetoric “everyday.”

    Nazi-like rhetoric. Every single day. That’s how his former manager at New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale described her experiences with him. He even told her, his manager, that she should be “put on an island with all the other gay people and burned” because she’s a lesbian:


    Gureghian said he told her that because she is a lesbian she is “deformed” and that she should be “put on an island with all the other gay people and burned.”

    “He spewed such garbage, it was so vile,” said Gureghian, who works as the restaurant’s general manager. “There’s so much hatred today.”

    She also reports that Sayoc at times had KKK stickers on his van and appeared to legitimately believe that anyone who didn’t fit his profile should be mass exterminated. So of course he would talk about his live of Hitler:


    He used the same white van that was prominently featured in national news broadcasts and splashed on news sites on Friday to deliver pizzas, she said. The van was adorned with “a billion stickers,” she said. She said at times there were KKK stickers and at least one sticker with a bullseye over a photo of Hillary Clinton on the vehicle. Sayoc, she said, “loved Adolph Hitler.”

    “If you didn’t fit his profile, you should go to an island and the island should be obliterated,” said Gureghian, who worked in a civilian role for the Massachusetts State Police for 23 years before moving to Florida..

    And note the period of time when Sayoc was working there: He quit in January of this year and worked there for more than a year. So it sounds like this covers 2017 and part of 2016:


    In a phone interview with the Globe Friday night, Debra Gureghian said Sayoc worked as a delivery driver at New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale for more than a year. He quit in January, she said.

    So Sayoc as been a Hitler lover since at least some time in 2016 based on the testimony of his former boss. But as we’ll see in the following article, it sounds like he was already basically a Nazi by 2015. That’s according to his former college soccer team buddies who met him during a dinner that year honoring their old coach. When they met him, Sayoc was already ranting like a Nazi and already heavily pro-Trump:

    The New York Times

    Cesar Sayoc, Mail Bombing Suspect, Found an Identity in Political Rage and Resentment

    By Jack Healy, Julie Turkewitz and Richard A. Oppel Jr.
    Oct. 27, 2018

    AVENTURA, Fla. — Cesar Sayoc Jr. was a volatile nobody desperate to become a somebody.

    He styled himself as a bodybuilder, entrepreneur, member of the Seminole tribe and exotic-dance promoter in the status-hungry beachfront world of South Florida. In reality, Mr. Sayoc, a fervent supporter of President Trump who has been charged with mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, was a bankrupt loner who spewed anger and spent years living in and out of a van, according to court documents and interviews with people who knew him.

    He went on racist, anti-gay tirades at the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop where he worked as a night-shift deliveryman in 2017, telling his manager, a lesbian, that she and other gay people along with Democrats should all be put onto an island and then “nuked.” At a reunion event in 2015 with his college soccer team, he browbeat former team members with racist, sexist conspiracy theories.

    And when Mr. Sayoc’s mother and sisters urged him to seek mental-health treatment, he furiously repelled their efforts and told his mother he hated her, said Ronald Lowy, a lawyer for the family who also represented Mr. Sayoc in a 2002 case in which he threatened to bomb an electric company during a dispute over a bill. He refused to even listen when his mother reminded Mr. Sayoc that he was Filipino and Italian, not Seminole, Mr. Lowy said.

    “He had tremendous anger slowly boiling up, and resentment, and felt ‘less than,’” Mr. Lowy said. “He lacked an identity. He created a persona.”

    When they first met, Mr. Lowy said, Mr. Sayoc brought in a scrapbook filled with notes and photographs he had collected from wrestlers, bodybuilders and strippers, table scraps from a world that he idolized.

    “He comes across like a 15-year-old,” Mr. Lowy said. “He has a total lack of maturity.”

    Mr. Lowy said that Mr. Sayoc’s family members were Democrats and that Mr. Sayoc seemed to have no outspoken partisan views during the 2002 case. But he said that Mr. Trump’s angry rhetoric and his appeals to the “forgotten man and woman” during the 2016 campaign seemed to strike a deep chord with Mr. Sayoc, whose father had abandoned the family when he was a child.

    “He was looking for some type of parental figure and being a loner, being an outcast, being the kind of person Trump speaks to, I think he was attracted to Trump as a father figure,” Mr. Lowy said.

    Mr. Sayoc registered as a Republican and posted photographs of himself wearing a “Make America Great Again Hat” at one of Mr. Trump’s rallies.

    On Twitter and Facebook, he railed against former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey with misspelled racial epithets, threatened former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and praised President Trump and conservative causes. His social-media feeds were an electronic version of the white van carted away by law-enforcement officials on Friday morning, which was covered in stickers praising Mr. Trump, condemning liberals and putting cross hairs over an image of Hillary Clinton.

    While Mr. Sayoc’s sisters are successful and his mother ran her own cosmetics business, Mr. Sayoc bumped between jobs, arrests, apartments and his van. He once lived in a comfortable neighborhood of single-story homes in the Coral Ridge Isles neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, but lost the home in a 2009 foreclosure.

    He had a long record of shoplifting and theft charges. Once he was arrested while carrying $19,000 worth of cash.

    In May 2015, he told the police that someone had broken into his van while he was working out at LA Fitness — where he had been showering — and stole about $45,000 worth of suits and costumes he needed for his business. It is unclear whether he actually had anything worth that much in the van, or whether he was making the report as pretext to make a false insurance claim.

    Even then, he had an affinity for Mr. Trump: The Broward Sheriff’s Office report notes that of the 139 pieces he said were taken, 11 were the president’s clothing brand.

    Scott B. Saul, a defense lawyer who represented Mr. Sayoc when he wanted to loosen the terms of his probation several years ago, said Mr. Sayoc’s behavior suggested something was amiss, recounting that “he came across passive, and with a sense of insecurity.”

    “He appeared to be his own island,” he said.

    “He loved Adolf Hitler; he talked about Adolf Hitler a lot,” said Debra Gureghian, 56, a manager at the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop where Mr. Sayoc worked for about a year in 2017. “He would say, ‘I like his politics, we should have more people like him.’”

    Mr. Sayoc went on paranoid, racist screeds, saying that blacks and Hispanics were taking over the world. He referred to Mr. Obama with a racist slur and said he was not a citizen. Years before he ran for office, Mr. Trump falsely claimed Mr. Obama was not an American citizen.

    Ms. Gureghian was familiar with Mr. Sayoc’s white van, but she was not sure if he was living in it. Once when it was raining, she accepted his offer to drive her home although she was nervous, unsure if she was safe.

    Teresa Palmer, 48, another manager, said that she also recalled the van, and that Mr. Sayoc would say “nasty things” about minorities. She remembered him mentioning Mr. Trump, but only recalled him saying that Mr. Trump made a “great” president. Mr. Sayoc left the pizza shop in January, telling colleagues he was going to work in long-haul trucking.

    When Mr. Sayoc showed up to a dinner in 2015 honoring his soccer coach from Brevard College in North Carolina, other team members said they were glad to see him.

    But they said he quickly made clear he was a fanatical supporter of Mr. Trump, and bombarded them with racist and misogynist conspiracy theories.

    “He was like, ‘America needs to be made great again, and I’m working on the upcoming presidential campaign to make sure we get the right people in office,’” said Eddie Tadlock, who was at the event. Mr. Tadlock said the political invective was clearly out of place at an event where former teammates were reliving their glory days on the soccer pitch.

    “It was hateful stuff,” Mr. Tadlock said. “It didn’t resemble anything logical. He was saying things like, ‘Build a wall to keep all the Mexicans out,’ and it immediately turned me off.”

    “If you want to have a dialogue about politics and policy, there’s a way to go about it, but the way he took the conversation was completely off course,” he added.

    A few days later, Mr. Sayoc sent Mr. Tadlock a friendly congratulatory message on Facebook, but soon started barraging Mr. Tadlock with sexist, racist messages that were “off-the-charts crazy” and said that Mr. Trump would be the savior of the United States.

    “I mean, I’m African-American, and he’s sending me racist stuff? And sexist stuff, and misogynistic stuff — you name it. He was saying Trump is going to be ‘The Godfather’ who corrects all of it, and I was like, ‘You’re out of your freaking mind.’ I unfriended him immediately.”

    ———-

    “Cesar Sayoc, Mail Bombing Suspect, Found an Identity in Political Rage and Resentment” by Jack Healy, Julie Turkewitz and Richard A. Oppel Jr.; The New York Times; 10/27/2018

    “He went on racist, anti-gay tirades at the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop where he worked as a night-shift deliveryman in 2017, telling his manager, a lesbian, that she and other gay people along with Democrats should all be put onto an island and then “nuked.” At a reunion event in 2015 with his college soccer team, he browbeat former team members with racist, sexist conspiracy theories.”

    So while Sayoc was clearly an neo-Nazi by 2016-2017, based on the testimony of his former pizza delivery manager, it sounds like he was already a radicalized racists and virulent Trump supporter by 2015 when he showed up at a dinner honoring his college soccer coach and harangued everyone with pro-Trump racist tirades. He also told them he was working on the Trump campaign. It would be interesting to know more about that claim:


    When Mr. Sayoc showed up to a dinner in 2015 honoring his soccer coach from Brevard College in North Carolina, other team members said they were glad to see him.

    But they said he quickly made clear he was a fanatical supporter of Mr. Trump, and bombarded them with racist and misogynist conspiracy theories.

    “He was like, ‘America needs to be made great again, and I’m working on the upcoming presidential campaign to make sure we get the right people in office,’” said Eddie Tadlock, who was at the event. Mr. Tadlock said the political invective was clearly out of place at an event where former teammates were reliving their glory days on the soccer pitch.

    A few days later, Mr. Sayoc sent Mr. Tadlock a friendly congratulatory message on Facebook, but soon started barraging Mr. Tadlock with sexist, racist messages that were “off-the-charts crazy” and said that Mr. Trump would be the savior of the United States.

    “I mean, I’m African-American, and he’s sending me racist stuff? And sexist stuff, and misogynistic stuff — you name it. He was saying Trump is going to be ‘The Godfather’ who corrects all of it, and I was like, ‘You’re out of your freaking mind.’ I unfriended him immediately.”

    It’s worth noting it appears that Sayoc was a big Trump fan before Trump even announced his presidential bid in June of 2015. As police records show, in May of 2015, Sayoc filed a police report about an alleged theft from his van. Of the 139 pieces of clothing he said were taken, 11 were Trump-brand clothing:


    In May 2015, he told the police that someone had broken into his van while he was working out at LA Fitness — where he had been showering — and stole about $45,000 worth of suits and costumes he needed for his business. It is unclear whether he actually had anything worth that much in the van, or whether he was making the report as pretext to make a false insurance claim.

    Even then, he had an affinity for Mr. Trump: The Broward Sheriff’s Office report notes that of the 139 pieces he said were taken, 11 were the president’s clothing brand.

    It’s also worth noting that a second manager, Teresa Palmer, at his pizza delivery job witnessed regular racist screeds from Sayoc too. And Sayoc’s paranoia included a belief that blacks and Hispanics are taking over the world. Keep in mind that this bombing campaign started after Trump and the GOP made ‘the caravan’ from Central America a central theme of their mid-term campaigning and continually promoted the conspiracy theory that George Soros and the Democrats were behind the caravan as part of a larger plot to bring in as many non-whites as possible into the US to vote illegally. In other words, Sayoc’s fears that ‘blacks and Hispanics are taking over the world’ was the meme du jour of Trump and the GOP when he carried out his bombing campaign:


    “He loved Adolf Hitler; he talked about Adolf Hitler a lot,” said Debra Gureghian, 56, a manager at the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop where Mr. Sayoc worked for about a year in 2017. “He would say, ‘I like his politics, we should have more people like him.’”

    Mr. Sayoc went on paranoid, racist screeds, saying that blacks and Hispanics were taking over the world. He referred to Mr. Obama with a racist slur and said he was not a citizen. Years before he ran for office, Mr. Trump falsely claimed Mr. Obama was not an American citizen.

    Ms. Gureghian was familiar with Mr. Sayoc’s white van, but she was not sure if he was living in it. Once when it was raining, she accepted his offer to drive her home although she was nervous, unsure if she was safe.

    Teresa Palmer, 48, another manager, said that she also recalled the van, and that Mr. Sayoc would say “nasty things” about minorities. She remembered him mentioning Mr. Trump, but only recalled him saying that Mr. Trump made a “great” president. Mr. Sayoc left the pizza shop in January, telling colleagues he was going to work in long-haul trucking.

    So Sayoc appears to fit the profile of the mentally unhinged individual who is barely able to contain his Nazi-like worldview. A half Filipino white supremacist who claimed to be a member of the Seminole tribe (even though he had no ties to them). So it should come as no surprise that he was seen by his former lawyer – who represented him in 2002 after Sayoc made a bomb threat – as someone with serious emotional issues and an identity crisis. An identity crisis that morphed into a Nazi super-Trump fan identity:


    And when Mr. Sayoc’s mother and sisters urged him to seek mental-health treatment, he furiously repelled their efforts and told his mother he hated her, said Ronald Lowy, a lawyer for the family who also represented Mr. Sayoc in a 2002 case in which he threatened to bomb an electric company during a dispute over a bill. He refused to even listen when his mother reminded Mr. Sayoc that he was Filipino and Italian, not Seminole, Mr. Lowy said.

    “He had tremendous anger slowly boiling up, and resentment, and felt ‘less than,’” Mr. Lowy said. “He lacked an identity. He created a persona.”

    When they first met, Mr. Lowy said, Mr. Sayoc brought in a scrapbook filled with notes and photographs he had collected from wrestlers, bodybuilders and strippers, table scraps from a world that he idolized.

    “He comes across like a 15-year-old,” Mr. Lowy said. “He has a total lack of maturity.”

    Mr. Lowy said that Mr. Sayoc’s family members were Democrats and that Mr. Sayoc seemed to have no outspoken partisan views during the 2002 case. But he said that Mr. Trump’s angry rhetoric and his appeals to the “forgotten man and woman” during the 2016 campaign seemed to strike a deep chord with Mr. Sayoc, whose father had abandoned the family when he was a child.

    “He was looking for some type of parental figure and being a loner, being an outcast, being the kind of person Trump speaks to, I think he was attracted to Trump as a father figure,” Mr. Lowy said.

    Another important aspect of Sayoc’s life is that, as the following article describes, he social media profile took a radical turn after Trump announced his presidential candidacy. Before that it was mostly benign content like a cooking recipes. So while it appears that Sayoc was a Trump fan before Trump announced his candidacy (based on the Trump-brand clothing he reported stolen), it’s not actually clear that he was an outright neo-Nazi before Trump’s run. He certainly had emotional and anger issues before that, but we don’t know yet if he was already indoctrinated into neo-Nazi ideology before that or if this came after he got heavily involved in promoting Trump’s campaign.

    As the following article also notes, Sayoc was bankrupt and living with his mother as of 2012. As we saw in the previous article, he lost his house in 2009. And he appeared to be living in his van for an extended period of time while living in Florida. So in addition to having some sort of identity issues that he filled with Nazi beliefs and a worship of Donald Trump, Sayoc also may have felt he had little to lose, which would have made him the perfect candidate for a terror campaign like this:

    The New York Times

    Living in a Van Plastered With Hate, Bombing Suspect Was Filled With Right-Wing Rage

    By Patricia Mazzei, Nick Madigan and Frances Robles
    Oct. 26, 2018

    AVENTURA, Fla. — On Twitter, Cesar Sayoc Jr. lashed out at immigrants, gun control advocates, and prominent Democratic politicians. On Facebook, he misspelled a racial epithet, directing it at the likes of Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama.

    With fury in his fingers, he shared inflammatory news stories from Breitbart, hard-edge videos from Fox News, and angry posts from pages like “Handcuffs for Hillary.” He tweeted a threat to former Vice President Joe Biden. And he posted photographs of himself wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat at one of President Trump’s campaign rallies.

    After a frenzied nationwide search for the person who sent 13 makeshift bombs to some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent critics, Mr. Sayoc, 56, was arrested Friday morning in Plantation, Fla., at an AutoZone car parts shop. Authorities released a photograph of a man with a buzz cut and a mouth that drooped toward a frown. They hauled away a white van plastered with bombastic stickers expressing support for Mr. Trump and animosity toward those who clashed with him.

    “Dishonest Media,” read one on the van’s back right window. “CNN Sucks.” Cross hairs appeared on a photograph of one of the liberal commentators at the network, which received more than one package from Mr. Sayoc at its offices in New York.

    Records show he was a registered Republican; friends said he once danced as a male stripper. He also had a lengthy criminal history — he was once accused of threatening to use a bomb against a customer service representative — and led a life filled with failure. Well into middle age, he was living with his mother with no furniture, according to 2012 bankruptcy records, and he appeared to have been living most recently out of his van.

    Federal officials said Friday they were still exploring questions of motive. “He appears to be a partisan,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at an afternoon news conference announcing Mr. Sayoc’s arrest, “but that will be determined by the facts as the case goes forward.”

    And so, even as the details of a grim and bitter life began to emerge Friday, a shaken country was left to ponder what could have prompted someone full of political grievances to manufacture a slew of improvised explosive devices.

    On Monday, law enforcement officials discovered the first package linked to Mr. Sayoc at a private home outside New York City that belongs to George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist. Days later, Mr. Sayoc would post tweets that targeted Mr. Soros and others, according to the criminal complaint.

    Mr. Sayoc’s posts on various social media accounts in 2015 showed an obsession with workouts and night life promotion, with little to no political content. But his more recent posts are full of political rage. His Facebook account, widely pored over after media reports of his arrest, suddenly disappeared on Friday.

    “We have found and immediately removed the suspect’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook said in a statement. “We will also continue to remove content that praises or supports the bombing attempt or the suspect as soon as we’re aware.”

    Much remains opaque about Mr. Sayoc. Some of his social media posts seemed to suggest he was part of the Seminole tribe in Florida. But Lenny Altieri, a relative, said that Mr. Sayoc’s father was from the Philippines and his mother was from Brooklyn. He was raised by grandparents after having problems with his mother, Mr. Altieri said.

    Mr. Sayoc had short stints in college as a young man, and had a passion for soccer, reflected in numerous soccer-themed messages on the van. He attended Brevard College, a small, Methodist-affiliated liberal arts college in Western North Carolina, for a year beginning in the fall of 1980 and played on the soccer team but did not graduate, according to a spokeswoman. He also attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte for one year starting in 1983, an official there said.

    Back in Florida, Mr. Altieri said, Mr. Sayoc was obsessed with bodybuilding and worked as a male stripper. He also worked as a manager for traveling “male revue shows,” said Rachel Humberger, the wife of one of Mr. Sayoc’s business partners.

    Ms. Humberger said that Mr. Sayoc seemed like a friendly man, based on the short interactions she had with him, and described the shows as “Magic Mike style,” a reference to a 2012 movie about male strippers, “Magic Mike.”

    More recently, she said Mr. Sayoc had been talking to her husband about starting a new business: fish farms.

    Mr. Altieri said that Mr. Sayoc at one point had “a lot of money, but lost most of it.” He did not elaborate on how Mr. Sayoc had acquired it.

    Mr. Sayoc amassed a lengthy criminal record, dating back to 1991, which includes felony theft, drug charges and fraud, public records show.

    In August 2002, Mr. Sayoc, in a dispute with a power company over a bill, was accused of threatening to blow up the company. Mr. Sayoc was on the phone with the customer service representative and “was upset over an amount that he was being billed for,” according to records released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. He “then stated that he didn’t deserve it and that he was going to blow up” the utility.

    The customer service representative pressed an emergency button, which began recording the conversation. Mr. Sayoc stated that what he planned would be worse “than 9/11” and that he planned to blow the agent’s head off, according to the records.

    When the agent said Mr. Sayoc did not want to be making such threats, prosecutors said he had replied “that he doesn’t make threats, he makes promises.” Mr. Sayoc later described his remarks as nothing more than a joke.

    In June 2012, Mr. Sayoc filed for personal bankruptcy, listing assets of $4,175 and liabilities of $21,109.

    “Lives w/mom,” a handwritten note on the petition said. “Has no furniture.”

    A later place of residence was the white van, which he often parked outside an aging strip mall in Aventura, Fla., that houses an LA Fitness, a Jewish market, a bakery and a post office.

    Manuel Prado, a 56-year-old hairdresser in a salon at the mall, Shoppes at the Waterways, said he had seen Mr. Sayoc for the past several years living in the white van with distinctive stickers.

    “I knew right away it was him when I saw the pictures of the van today in the news,” Mr. Prado said Friday afternoon. “That van was his home. It was really smelly when he had the door open and you walked by. It was horrible. He might drive off and run an errand or something, but every morning that van was there in the parking lot.”

    Mr. Prado, a hairdresser for 17 years, said he also saw Mr. Sayoc frequently at LA Fitness, a large club immediately west of the shopping mall. “He would pretend to exercise — I think he just went there to take showers,” Mr. Prado said. “He’d sometimes use a bicycle in the gym. I assume he was a member because they’re very strict about that.”

    ———-

    “Living in a Van Plastered With Hate, Bombing Suspect Was Filled With Right-Wing Rage” by Patricia Mazzei, Nick Madigan and Frances Robles; The New York Times; 10/26/2018

    “Records show he was a registered Republican; friends said he once danced as a male stripper. He also had a lengthy criminal history — he was once accused of threatening to use a bomb against a customer service representative — and led a life filled with failure. Well into middle age, he was living with his mother with no furniture, according to 2012 bankruptcy records, and he appeared to have been living most recently out of his van.

    So Sayoc experienced foreclosure, bankruptcy, and homelessness in recent years. But his troubles started long before that. One person claims Sayoc had “a lot of money” at some point, but lost most of it. It’s unclear how much he had or how it was lost, but keep in mind in 2009 foreclosure so it’s possible he lost quite a bit as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. Of course, given his criminal record, it’s also possible he acquired “a lot of money” through criminal activity. Either way, he was already a deeply troubled individual years ago, as the 2002 bomb threat case – a bomb threat made about an electricity bill – makes clear:


    Mr. Altieri said that Mr. Sayoc at one point had “a lot of money, but lost most of it.” He did not elaborate on how Mr. Sayoc had acquired it.

    Mr. Sayoc amassed a lengthy criminal record, dating back to 1991, which includes felony theft, drug charges and fraud, public records show.

    In August 2002, Mr. Sayoc, in a dispute with a power company over a bill, was accused of threatening to blow up the company. Mr. Sayoc was on the phone with the customer service representative and “was upset over an amount that he was being billed for,” according to records released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. He “then stated that he didn’t deserve it and that he was going to blow up” the utility.

    The customer service representative pressed an emergency button, which began recording the conversation. Mr. Sayoc stated that what he planned would be worse “than 9/11” and that he planned to blow the agent’s head off, according to the records.

    When the agent said Mr. Sayoc did not want to be making such threats, prosecutors said he had replied “that he doesn’t make threats, he makes promises.” Mr. Sayoc later described his remarks as nothing more than a joke.

    So as of 2002, Sayoc was clearly a deeply troubled individual. Then thre’s a period of his life where we don’t have much information. Was this the period when Sayoc made “a lot of money” and then lost it? We don’t know. But by 2012, Sayoc filed for bankruptcy and in recent years was living in his van:


    In June 2012, Mr. Sayoc filed for personal bankruptcy, listing assets of $4,175 and liabilities of $21,109.

    “Lives w/mom,” a handwritten note on the petition said. “Has no furniture.”

    A later place of residence was the white van, which he often parked outside an aging strip mall in Aventura, Fla., that houses an LA Fitness, a Jewish market, a bakery and a post office.

    Manuel Prado, a 56-year-old hairdresser in a salon at the mall, Shoppes at the Waterways, said he had seen Mr. Sayoc for the past several years living in the white van with distinctive stickers.

    So Sayoc fits a now familiar profile of individuals who end up committing these kinds of seemingly ‘lone wolf’ act. A profile of a middle-aged man who has been hit with one blow after another – a bankruptcy, lost home, insecure employment – and becomes angry and radicalized, latches onto white supremacy, and finally lashes out violently. Although he doesn’t fit the profile in one key aspect. He was half Filipino, and appeared to have completely made up an identity as a member of the Seminole tribe in Florida:


    Much remains opaque about Mr. Sayoc. Some of his social media posts seemed to suggest he was part of the Seminole tribe in Florida. But Lenny Altieri, a relative, said that Mr. Sayoc’s father was from the Philippines and his mother was from Brooklyn. He was raised by grandparents after having problems with his mother, Mr. Altieri said.

    And we still don’t know when exactly he adopt the ‘I love Hitler’ worldview. Was it pre-Trump or post-Trump? That remains unclear, but based on his social media content in 2015 it appears that had no real political interest. It’s only the more recent social media content where the right-wing political narratives started showing up:


    On Monday, law enforcement officials discovered the first package linked to Mr. Sayoc at a private home outside New York City that belongs to George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist. Days later, Mr. Sayoc would post tweets that targeted Mr. Soros and others, according to the criminal complaint.

    Mr. Sayoc’s posts on various social media accounts in 2015 showed an obsession with workouts and night life promotion, with little to no political content. But his more recent posts are full of political rage. His Facebook account, widely pored over after media reports of his arrest, suddenly disappeared on Friday.

    “We have found and immediately removed the suspect’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook said in a statement. “We will also continue to remove content that praises or supports the bombing attempt or the suspect as soon as we’re aware.”

    Still, as we saw in the previous article, he was fully immersed in the far right conspiratorial worldview at some point in 2015 based on the testimonies of his soccer teammates. So if he wasn’t already radicalized before Trump started his campaign he must have gotten radicalized really fast.

    So, all in all, we appear to have another domestic terror campaign from another white supremacist, albeit a somewhat atypical white supremacist. And while there’s no indication that he worked with someone else in this bombing campaign, we can’t ignore the fact that Sayoc was clearly enthusiastically immersing himself in the world of pro-Trump activism and that’s a world filled with organized white supremacists.

    Recall what was saw above: Sayoc told his soccer teammates in 2015 that he was working on the Trump campaign. Was he doing this independently? Was his pro-Trump van his idea of working on the campaign? We don’t know, but we do know from all the pictures he posted of himself attending Trump events that he was mingling in that crowd. Sayoc even showed up on tv at a Trump rally in Melbourne, Florida, in 2017 holding up a big anti-CNN sign.

    So Sayoc could have easily spent the last three years heavily networking with people from that ‘pro-Trump’ crowd. Might any of those people have been white supremacists? Was Sayoc, who appeared to be seeking out some sort of group to belong to, quietly recruited? Keep in mind that, as a half-Filipino white supremacist, Sayoc would have probably been seen as a pretty hot commodity from the white supremacist standpoint. Just imagine what a bunch of neo-Nazis would think if they came across someone like Sayoc, especially after they learn he’s highly impressionable and lives in a van. He would have been the perfect ‘lone wolf’ for use by organized white supremacists!.

    And then there’s the fact that he didn’t have a house to construct those bombs. So where did he make them? Did he have help? Those questions remain completely unanswered at this point but it’s hard to see any reason to assume at this point that he was working alone.

    It’s also worth recalling the parallels to Nicholas Cruz, the Florida-based teenager who shot up Parkland High School and who happened to be part Jewish and Hispanic and who also appeared to have serious identity issues. The bizarre situation where a bunch of neo-Nazi trolls ‘tricked’ the media into thinking Cruz was affiliated with the Florida-based neo-Nazi group, the Republic of Florida, only to have the ‘hoax’ rapidly discovered. And recall how that ‘hoax’ appeared to have been designed to be rapidly discovered and how it all appeared to be a kind of preemptive ‘hoax’ designed to discredit the theory that Cruz was indeed prompted to carry out his attack by the neo-Nazis he was networking with.

    In all, the case of Nikolas Cruz had the look a staged ‘lone wolf’ attack with a planned disinformation campaign designed to throw the public off the trail of investigating Cruz’s ties to organized white supremacist terror groups. Might the case of Cesar Sayoc be similar? Might the same Florida-based neo-Nazi be involved? Those are all questions that have yet to be answered so let’s hope they’re at least being asked by investigators.

    Beyond all the questions about what precisely motivated Sayoc to do what he did, there’s the overarching issue of the undeniable fact that that Sayoc’s attacks took place in the context of a hard right anti-immigrant turn by the GOP in the final weeks of this campaign focused on promoting conspiracy theories alleging Democrats and George Soros are financing the Central American migrants caravan for the purpose of ‘[insert white supremacy conspiracy theory here]’. Trump and the GOP has made a slightly toned down version of the classic neo-Nazi meme – that Democrats are trying to bring non-whites into the US as part of some sort of diabolical ‘globalist’ plot against white Americans – a central part of their mid-term sloganeering in these final weeks.

    And before Sayoc was caught and identified, the GOP was aggressively promoting the idea that it was all a false flag hoax carried out by the left. Trump even promoted that meme in a treat less than an hour before Sayoc was apprehended, which is highly suspicious timing given the fact that he almost assuredly would have known about the arrest (and Sayoc’s obvious pro-Trump fanaticism) before the arrest was made. At 10:19 am EST Friday morning, shortly before the arrest, Trump tweeted out: “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote! It was the just latest tweet from a prominent conservative hinting at the idea that the “bomb stuff” was part of a plot against the GOP and designed to distract from ‘the caravan’:

    The Guardian

    High-profile conservatives claim mail bombs are an attack by the left

    Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh have suggested Democrats sent packages to elicit sympathy ahead of midterms

    Jason Wilson in Portland, Oregon
    Fri 26 Oct 2018 10.11 EDT
    Last modified on Fri 26 Oct 2018 12.03 EDT

    A range of high-profile conservatives have embraced a conspiracy theory that mail bombs sent to liberal public figures are a “false flag” attack by leftwingers. Many have also claimed that the attacks are intended to elicit sympathy for Democrats ahead of the looming midterm elections.

    Authorities are yet to identify a suspect or motive in the bombings, which have seen 12 pipe bombs sent to a range of figures from former president Barack Obama to Bill and Hillary Clinton to financier George Soros and even to the out-spoken actor Robert De Niro. All the suspects have one thing in common: they have been targets of Donald Trump’s ire.

    Nevertheless, without evidence, a number of ostensibly mainstream conservatives joined more overtly conspiracist outlets in either expressing skepticism that conservatives would damage their own cause, or making outright accusations that the left are orchestrating the bombing campaign in order to sabotage Republicans.

    In a now-deleted tweet, on Thursday Fox Business TV host Lou Dobbs wrote: “Fake News – Fake Bombs. Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?” Dobbs has a close relationship with Trump and the two reportedly speak frequently on the phone.

    Elsewhere on Fox, three guest analysts suggested that the bombs were “false flag” attacks.

    Also on Thursday, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, liked a tweet which read in part: “FAKE BOMBS MADE TO SCARE AND PICK UP BLUE SYMPATHY VOTE.” In the past he has liked tweets questioning whether the Parkland survivor David Hogg was actually present at the Florida school shooting that led him to become gun control campaigner.

    On Wednesday, after a caller said the bomb plot didn’t “pass the smell test”, the leading talk radio host Rush Limbaugh asked rhetorically: “Would it make a lot of sense for a Democrat operative or Democrat-inculcated lunatic to do it? Because things are not working out the way they thought.”

    His fellow rightwing broadcaster, Michael Savage, opined the same day that there was a “high probability that the whole thing had been set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats”, and to distract from the so-called “caravan” of migrants currently in southern Mexico.

    The far-right and anti-immigrant media personality Ann Coulter, meanwhile, claimed on Wednesday that the “bombs are a liberal tactic”. The conservative author and film-maker Dinesh D’Souza, whose recent work has drawn parallels between Democrats and Nazis, tweeted: “I hear the FBI squeezed lemon juice on the suspicious packages and a very faint lettering revealed a single word: DEMOCRATS.”

    Those further down the conservative media pecking order were also on message with “false flag” allegations.

    The Trump-aligned podcaster and social media star Bill Mitchell described the bombs as “Soros astro-turfing”, referring to the billionaire philanthropist (and magnet for conspiracy theorists) who was the first target of the bombing campaign. He added that the attacks were “Pure BS”.

    Rightwing cartoonist Ben Garrison drew a cartoon entitled Raising a false flag, featuring Hillary Clinton, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, and former CIA director John Brennan – all bombing targets – raising a flag shaped like a mail bomb. Underneath the flag, he has George Soros exclaiming: “See? We’re victims of Trump’s hate!”

    On Wednesday, just hours after multiple bombs had arrived at the homes of former public officials and the offices of media companies, Jones alleged that the bombs had been planted by leftist antifascist or “antifa groups”, in order to “smear conservatives who support President Trump”.

    ———-

    “High-profile conservatives claim mail bombs are an attack by the left” by Jason Wilson; The Guardian; 10/26/2018

    “Nevertheless, without evidence, a number of ostensibly mainstream conservatives joined more overtly conspiracist outlets in either expressing skepticism that conservatives would damage their own cause, or making outright accusations that the left are orchestrating the bombing campaign in order to sabotage Republicans.”

    Yep, before Sayoc was arrested and identified, the idea that the bombings were a left-wing false flag was the right-wing media’s rallying cry. Even Donald Trump, Jr. got in on it:


    In a now-deleted tweet, on Thursday Fox Business TV host Lou Dobbs wrote: “Fake News – Fake Bombs. Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?” Dobbs has a close relationship with Trump and the two reportedly speak frequently on the phone.

    Elsewhere on Fox, three guest analysts suggested that the bombs were “false flag” attacks.

    Also on Thursday, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, liked a tweet which read in part: “FAKE BOMBS MADE TO SCARE AND PICK UP BLUE SYMPATHY VOTE.” In the past he has liked tweets questioning whether the Parkland survivor David Hogg was actually present at the Florida school shooting that led him to become gun control campaigner.

    Michael Savage included the cited used theory that it was all designed to distract from ‘the caravan’, which tied in the bombing ‘false flag’ meme with the ‘George Soros and the Democrats are paying for the caravan’ meme that the right-wing had already been aggressively promoting:


    On Wednesday, after a caller said the bomb plot didn’t “pass the smell test”, the leading talk radio host Rush Limbaugh asked rhetorically: “Would it make a lot of sense for a Democrat operative or Democrat-inculcated lunatic to do it? Because things are not working out the way they thought.”

    His fellow rightwing broadcaster, Michael Savage, opined the same day that there was a “high probability that the whole thing had been set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats”, and to distract from the so-called “caravan” of migrants currently in southern Mexico.

    The far-right and anti-immigrant media personality Ann Coulter, meanwhile, claimed on Wednesday that the “bombs are a liberal tactic”. The conservative author and film-maker Dinesh D’Souza, whose recent work has drawn parallels between Democrats and Nazis, tweeted: “I hear the FBI squeezed lemon juice on the suspicious packages and a very faint lettering revealed a single word: DEMOCRATS.”

    And perhaps most importantly, that collective right-wing response was predictable: the mainstream right-wing media will now predictably treat any and all far right terror attack as a ‘false flag’ until it’s conclusively proven otherwise. We also can’t ignore the fact that Trump himself was blaming the media and ‘fake news’ for these attacks. And it’s hard to think of a media environment that could do more to encourage far right domestic terror attacks than a media that will treat those attacks on left-wing false flags and hoaxes and blame the victims.

    And, of course, even after Sayoc was apprehended and identified, Trump doubled down on the rhetoric and the argument that this was actually all the media’s fault:

    Talking Points Memo

    Trump Threatens To ‘Tone It Up’ Since Media Has Been So Unfair To GOP

    by David Taintor
    October 26, 2018 5:00 pm

    President Donald Trump on Friday criticized the media for being “unbelievably unfair to Republicans,” saying that he could “tone it up” because of that treatment.

    “Well I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up because, as you know, the media’s been extremely unfair to me and the Republican Party,” Trump said hours after the FBI arrested a suspect in connection to the mailed pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN this week.

    Trump says he could “tone it up” because the media has been so unfair to Republicans pic.twitter.com/AyD3Q7qq0l

    — TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 26, 2018

    ———-

    “Trump Threatens To ‘Tone It Up’ Since Media Has Been So Unfair To GOP” by David Taintor; Talking Points Memo; 10/26/2018

    ““Well I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up because, as you know, the media’s been extremely unfair to me and the Republican Party,” Trump said hours after the FBI arrested a suspect in connection to the mailed pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN this week.”

    So given that we’re dealing with bomb threat terror campaign by a man who appeared to have a serious identity disorder and in search of some sort of group to belong to, and given that the right-wing has fully embraced far right disinformation as a rallying cry, with worth recalling the insights into far right thought provided by the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazi writer Curtis Yarvin, a.k.a. Mencius Moldbug. As Moldbug once wrote, “To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.” In other words, publicly parroting disinformation is how members of the far right make their tribal allegiance known. It’s an act of group bonding that simultaneously bonds the group to the disinformation. It’s part of what makes the Big Lie durable:

    Politico

    What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read

    President Trump’s strategic adviser is elevating a once-obscure network of political thinkers.

    By ELIANA JOHNSON and ELI STOKOLS

    February 07, 2017

    The first weeks of the Trump presidency have brought as much focus on the White House’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, as on the new president himself. But if Bannon has been the driving force behind the frenzy of activity in the White House, less attention has been paid to the network of political philosophers who have shaped his thinking and who now enjoy a direct line to the White House.

    They are not mainstream thinkers, but their writings help to explain the commotion that has defined the Trump administration’s early days. They include a Lebanese-American author known for his theories about hard-to-predict events; an obscure Silicon Valley computer scientist whose online political tracts herald a “Dark Enlightenment”; and a former Wall Street executive who urged Donald Trump’s election in anonymous manifestos by likening the trajectory of the country to that of a hijacked airplane—and who now works for the National Security Council.

    Bannon, described by one associate as “the most well-read person in Washington,” is known for recommending books to colleagues and friends, according to multiple people who have worked alongside him. He is a voracious reader who devours works of history and political theory “in like an hour,” said a former associate whom Bannon urged to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “He’s like the Rain Man of nationalism.”

    But, said the source, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about Bannon, “There are some things he’s only going to share with people who he’s tight with and who he trusts.”

    Bannon’s readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own public remarks over the years—a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history. His ascendant presence in the West Wing is giving once-obscure intellectuals unexpected influence over the highest echelons of government.

    Trump’s first two weeks in office have produced a dizzying blur of activity. But the president has also needlessly sparked controversy, arguing, for example, that his inauguration crowd was the biggest ever and that millions of people voted illegally in last November’s election, leaving even seasoned political observers befuddled.

    Before he emerged on the political scene, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer with ties to Trump backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was explaining his behavior. Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed “neoreactionary” who blogs under the name “Mencius Moldbug,” attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that “nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth.” When the organizer of a computer science conference canceled Yarvin’s appearance following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer-blogger’s dismissal.

    Moldbug’s dense, discursive musings on history—“What’s so bad about the Nazis?” he asks in one 2008 post that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies—include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump’s approach to truth. “To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army,” he writes in a May 2008 post.

    In one January 2008 post, titled “How I stopped believing in democracy,” he decries the “Georgetownist worldview” of elites like the late diplomat George Kennan. Moldbug’s writings, coming amid the failure of the U.S. state-building project in Iraq, are hard to parse clearly and are open to multiple interpretations, but the author seems aware that his views are provocative. “It’s been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here,” he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explaining why he associates democracy with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.”

    Moldbug, who does not do interviews and could not be reached for this story, has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary, according to a source. Yarvin said he has never spoken with Bannon. During the transition, he made clear his deep skepticism that the Russians were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the source said—a message that Trump himself reiterated several times.

    ———-

    “What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read” by ELIANA JOHNSON and ELI STOKOLS; Politico; 02/07/2017

    Before he emerged on the political scene, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer with ties to Trump backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was explaining his behavior. Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed “neoreactionary” who blogs under the name “Mencius Moldbug,” attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that “nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth.” When the organizer of a computer science conference canceled Yarvin’s appearance following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer-blogger’s dismissal.”

    That’s right, Yarvin/Moldbug also happens to be an associate of major Silicon Valley Trump-backer Peter Thiel. And he’s openly written about the power of disinformation as a kind of group loyalty pledge. By openly embracing nonsense, one can make their loyalty clear to the group putting out this nonsense. Disinformation as a uniform. And when you have enough people making that loyalty pledge you have an army. And army of nonsense that is, nonetheless, still an army:


    Moldbug’s dense, discursive musings on history—“What’s so bad about the Nazis?” he asks in one 2008 post that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies—include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump’s approach to truth. “To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army,” he writes in a May 2008 post.

    So we find ourselves in a situation where the right-wing response to far right terror is predictably to label it a left-wing false flag or hoax. And that’s happening in the larger context of the mainstreaming of far right thought in general. So we have to ask: is there’s a conscious strategy at work here were far right attacks are capitalized upon by the far right using disinformation. In other words, is promotion of ‘false flag! Hoax!’ memes one of the goals of these kinds of terror attacks? A strategy that revolves around cycle of ‘violence + post-violence disinformation’ where the disinformation is literally intended as a divide and conquer tactic that forms its own informal army?

    In other words, just as Sayoc appears to have been seeking some kind of white supremacist approval with his actions, are the right-wing disinformation campaigns also intentionally promoting disinformation because it’s know that conservatives want to stay in good standing with ‘the tribe’ and will passively adopt whatever disinformation is put out that ‘their side’ as part of some sort human instinct to show group loyalty? It’s a question we have to ask, especially as President Trump threatens to “tone up” his rhetoric. Because that’s not just a threat to make the Big Lie even bigger. It’s also a threat to make the army of people who now reflexively accept that Big Lie worldview as an act of tribal loyalty even more loyal. Even more loyal to Trump and the ever-growing Big Lie.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 27, 2018, 4:03 pm

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