US President Biden condemns white supremacist terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York that murdered 10 people
US President Joe Biden has condemned the shooting attack in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on 14 May that took the lives of 10 people; of the 13 people hit by the shooter's bullets, 11 were Black. Biden called the attack, allegedly committed by 18-year-old Payton Gendron, a racist shooting spree and a case of domestic terrorism.
The president condemned the idea of white supremacy, which was apparently the alleged gunman's motivation. "What happened here is simple, straightforward: Terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism," Biden said yesterday during a meeting with families of the victims, first responders and local stakeholders.
According to the president, the alleged shooter acted "in the service of hate", which defines some as "inherently inferior". "Now is the time for the people of all races, from every background, to speak up as a majority in America and reject white supremacy," the Associated Press reported Biden as saying.
Police are investigating the bloodbath as a hate crime; according to the Washington Post, Gendron decided in December 2021 to kill some of the people whom he derogatorily called "replacements". In February 2022 he chose a grocery store, Tops Friendly Market, as his target, located in a neighborhood mainly populated by people of color.
In March 2022, Gendron visited the shop to map its layout and security in detail. Security guards stopped him to ask why he was making so many visits there that day, but the young man made some excuse and left, according to the Washington Post, as can be seen from his online posts.
After Gendron designated the supermarket as "Attack Area No 1", he described two other locations in Buffalo in detail where he said he would "shoot all the blacks", his leaked posts reveal. He mapped the routes to each location, calculated the time necessary for each individual shot he would fire, and estimated that he could cause fatal injuries to 30 people total or more.
Gendron has been remanded into custody and faces multiple charges of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and should return to court in two days.
The alleged shooter is under increased surveillance in custody due to the risk that he could attempt suicide. Police had investigated the juvenile before in association with other threats.
According to Biden, the alleged perpetrator espoused a "perverse ideology". The president also mentioned the conspiracy theory of the "great replacement", which is the central motif of an approximately 180-page "manifesto" ascribed to Gendron.
The racist theory accuses the broadest possible range of elites of endeavoring to "weaken" the population of white people in the United States and other countries by receiving refugees of color, as well as through other processes. In less well-known corners of the Internet, this theory has been surviving for years, but the American media are warning that recently a certain form of this idea is also being given room on the most-watched television news channel in the USA, as well as by many politicians in the Republican Party.
"I and all of you reject the lie. I call on all Americans to reject the lie. And I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for profit," Biden said in his speech yesterday.
The Associated Press reports that while the conspiracy theory's roots extend far into the past, it got its name from a book published in France in 2011, Le Grand Remplacement (The Great Replacement) in which the author writes that Europe faces an African immigrant invasion; in the United States, the group labeled as the one to "replace" white inhabitants is mainly that of immigrants from Latin America, but the ideology can of course also take aim at Black people. In addition to its racism, the theory is also imbued with antisemitism, frequently identifying Jews as the "movers" behind such phenomena in the population.
That element also features in the text ascribed to Gendron that was published online two days ahead of the Buffalo massacre. This is not the first "manifesto" by a shooter referencing an alleged conspiracy aiming to transform the population in countries that were previously predominantly white.
The new document even repeatedly cites the declaration published by the perpetrator of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019. That same year, the conspiracy theory was also mentioned by gunman Patrick Crusius after he murdered 22 people in El Paso, Texas and admitted to targeting Mexicans.
Recently analysts have observed the idea of "the great replacement" extending beyond the borders of the forums sought out by extremists on the Internet. The idea is permeating into society in an adapted form, whereby Blacks or immigrants are not described explicitly as inferior, and where the main villains are liberal politicians seeking to stay in power.
That is how Tucker Carlson, the Fox News cable station's most popular commentator, presented the concept to his viewers last year when he said that "The Democratic Party is doing its best to replace the current electorate." That unsubstantiated speculation was subsequently supported by US Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican, while another member of the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives published ads on Facebook several months ago accusing the Democrats of engaging in a plan to "flood the voter rolls" with immigrants.
"When you take milder versions of extreme ideas and begin promoting them as the truth, then suddenly you push quite a large public a bit closer toward the more extreme versions," commented Nicholas Confessore, a reporter for The New York Times, in an interview Monday about the Republicans' strategy. Already today, according to polls conducted for the Associated Press, about one third of Americans say they believe a politically motivated effort is underway to replace Americans born in the USA with immigrants.
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