a haiku sequence written in response to mass shootings in the United States
on the news ticker
another mass shooting...
my son asks, anything new?
George Floyd Square
a white man shoots a black boy
with his finger pistol
a police dog
barking at its echo
1 The title is taken from Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 1:9 (New International Version)
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
2 So far this year, there have been "201 mass shootings" in the United States, and it's only May. CNN and the Gun Violence Archive define a mass shooting as one that injures or kills four or more people... CNN News, May 16
3 Jessie Li, 'American Racism and the Buffalo Shooting, ' NewsLetter, May 16,2022
Once startling and noteworthy, mass shootings have melded into the background of life in the U.S, " Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes, noting that there have been roughly two hundred such shootings recorded in the country so far this year. Yet some events still have the ability to shock. On Saturday afternoon, an eighteen-year-old who allegedly posted a hundred-and-eighty page "manifesto" avowing white-supremacist beliefs opened fire at a grocery store in the primarily Black neighborhood of Masten, in Buffalo, hitting thirteen people and killing ten. Taylor, who was born in Buffalo, writes that the shooting "must be viewed within the context of the growing normalization of racism and political violence in the U.S." Taylor examines the parallels between the shooter's manifesto and the rhetoric of conservative figureheads, including Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, and speaks with a local pastor, whose congregants were directly affected by the attack. "Many people were angry, " he says, and notes that the violence seems like a continuation of a broader trend of inequity that Black people in Masten have experienced. As Taylor writes, "For decades, Black life has been seen as disposable.
And The Guardian, May 15: Buffalo mass shooting: how white replacement theory keeps inspiring mass murder: This once fringe ideology, which was at the heart of Nazism, has gained mainstream traction thanks in part to the likes of Tucker Carlson on Fox News
The first listed goal in Payton Gendron's manifesto: “kill as many blacks as possible”.
The ideology that motivated Gendron’s mass murder in Buffalo, white replacement theory, has a lengthy and blood-soaked 20th-century history. Since 2011, it has been the explicit motivation for over 160 murders, including Norway’s Anders Breivik’s slaughter of 77 people, including some immigrants, in 2011, Dylann Roof’s mass murder of Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the Tree of Life synagogue killings in 2018, and the murder of 23 people, mostly immigrants, in El Paso, Texas, in 2019.
Mass atrocities do not occur in a vacuum. They are enabled by a present normalization of a lengthy previous history, a process that the philosopher of mass killing Lynne Tirrell labels the social embeddedness condition. White replacement theory was the dominant structuring narrative of Nazi ideology. Adolf Hitler also announced his genocidal intent in a lengthy manifesto about the supposed Jewish threat to white civilization, entitled Mein Kampf, which was published in 1924. Hitler also was obsessed by mass immigration, and the threat it posed to “white civilization”.
Currently, white replacement theory has been mass popularized and normalized, perhaps chiefly by the American political commentator Tucker Carlson. It is rapidly moving to the center of the mainstream narrative of America’s Republican party. In this form, it appears stripped of its explicit connection to antisemitism. You will not find Tucker Carlson asserting that the Jews are behind the mass replacement of American whites that he bemoans regularly in what is regularly the most watched cable news show in the United States among adults 25-54.