I wrote two pieces in response to the horrific mass shooting of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand by a white supremacist. In the first, written for The Guardian, I examine the inadequate response by Donald Trump. “The president – any president – sets the national tone for what is permissible speech and impermissible speech in the political arena. Trump, on the other hand, merely revels in the impermissible,” I write. I end the essay this way:
Trump, Conway and Mulvaney can deflect, distract and divide us as much as possible, but none of their words can erase the fact that the president is unambiguously connected to this far-right political violence that is sometimes performed with him directly in mind. Let me be clear. Trump is not criminally responsible for these acts. That would be a ludicrous idea. But he is politically responsible, and understanding that distinction will be the first step to rejuvenating our politics.
For The Nation, I compared this latest shooting with the massacre in Norway in 2011 by another anti-Muslim white supremacist. That essay ends this way:
The New Zealand attack was performed as a way to advertise a manifesto that isn’t directed to people like me, to the general public. It would, however, be fully legible to a dangerous subculture of global white supremacists. Unlike Dylann Roof’s manifesto, which was one man’s justification for his unjustifiable actions, this new genre of document is the collective labor of a dangerous international social movement, the ultimate goal being to recruit ever more authors and killers. This is mass murder as a marketing strategy, death on the internet plan.
‘Final victory is yours, if you have the will for it,’ the New Zealand shooter’s document ends. ‘As for me, my time has come.’ The implication is clear. A third edition is likely on the horizon, which is why we would be foolish to relegate attacks such as these to the actions of lone wolves.