The United States briefly had a conversation about racism and extremism in the aftermath of the most recent mass murder of Black people. Hateful attacks on non-white groups continue to grow across the country. Whether it be verbal harassment, physical violence, or outright murder by a lynch mob of one, what’s happening can not be ignored despite efforts to do just that.

As is typical of what happens in US society after a domestic terrorist attack, most went on the defensive. They argue that we should not talk about or share the shooter’s manifesto. The argument is based on the idea that doing so gives murderers the notoriety they seek. Nothing could be further from the truth. The notoriety is built in. You just don’t see it because you choose not to.

Extremist manifestos expose your conservative family, friends, and coworkers

Because of that, I argue that civil society must read the manifestos to fully understand the mindset and the ideas that have been programmed into them. Many journalists and activists read them and it seems that we are the only people who fully understand what is happening. While you can’t rely on corporate media to get the full story, you can certainly get it from us.

What’s happening in the US is the product of a society dominated by privileged white people with access to resources not available to anyone else. White replacement or white extinction theories are all based on fear. Afraid of equality and what they perceive minorities will do to them should it be achieved, they are the tip of the iceberg in what is the current ethnonationalist movement. 

Ethnonationalism is the inevitable afterbirth of white supremacy

As I described a recent article pending publication, “Ethno-nationalism is when nationality is depicted as an ethnicity or race over loyalty to any nation. In other words, self-proclaimed “patriots” of the far-right have progressed to a place where they consider “American” an ethnicity in addition to a nationality. However, in the US, the ideology embodies whiteness as a race and a key tenet of that nationality.

Ethnonationalism is how someone like Enrique Tarrio, Latinos for Trump, and Blacks for Trump can thrive in what appears to be a white supremacist environment. Much of this is the product of the anti-immigrant Tanton network of websites disguised as think tanks. By using xenophobia and appealing to “Americans” of every race, bigots are able to entice non-white people to join them. That acceptance is later used as proof these groups aren’t based in white power.

Buffalo shooter’s motivations

So here we are. Again. Another mass shooting and people want to do the same things that never work. Similar to demanding gun control laws en masse when it’s too late, acting in the exact same way after extremist attacks get us nowhere. Unfortunately, white people are going to have to face the reality that their conservative family members sound just like mass shooters.

White America must address these facts and read the manifestos of racist mass murderers. Only then can they fully handle the extremism in their proximity. The manifestos help us identify why and how young white men are radicalized. It’s impossible to confront those around you who sound just like the Buffalo shooter.

Refusing to allow the normalization of ethnonationalism is crucial

This isn’t to say that your family, friends, and coworkers are mass murderers in the making, but this isn’t to say they aren’t either. Any one of them could be the next shooter. It only takes one to inflict insurmountable damage on non-white communities. While those close to you may not go that far, they’re likely on social media stoking others with the same rhetoric found in a manifesto.

Ethnonationalism is tearing the nation apart via book bans, political attacks on women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, xenophobia, anti-Black hate, anti-Latino hate, and anti-Asian hate just to name a few. To the ethnonationalist, all of these are part of preserving “American culture” (read: white culture) disguised as an inclusive platform.

Acting concerned about “terrorist immigrants” coming to the US

White nationalists can spout their hate and we can watch Black people, Asians, Latinos, and other non-white people nod their heads in agreement. What this proves is that the “white extinction” ideas of Klansmen like David Duke are being embraced as attacks on “American culture” by members of various non-white communities.

The best thing we can do to fight back is to educate. For every statement someone like Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump makes, there are troves of rabbit holes online that seemingly validate their words. Because of this, the best weapon we have is to fight back on the same platforms and mediums.

Ignoring the problem never solved anything.

Laying the seeds of hate by using extremist language and associating it with the political left

Dismissing the issues is what has made it so bad. If you can watch documentary after documentary about serial killers, you can be uncomfortable enough to read a mass shooter’s manifesto to better understand the problem. Enough cowardice and complacency. Time to get tough and face the fact that you can do something about this.

You have to confront it first. All of it.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white...

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