• Sereen Banna

The Buffalo Shooting: A hate crime Inspired by Carlson Rhetoric

Updated: May 23

The shooting that occurred on May 14th was premeditated and explained in a 180-page screed posted online by the shooter. Citing Tucker Carlson, the "great replacement theory," and eco-fascism, this hate crime defines the racist ideologies America can't escape.


On Saturday, May 14, a shooter entered the Tops Friendly Market grocery store in Buffalo with the intent to kill anyone who didn't look like him. Payton Gendron shot 13 people, 11 of whom were black. According to the testimony of the supermarket employee, the shooter asked her why she worked in a Black community. After his arrest, he pleaded not guilty; although, he was heavily armed with tactical gear, live-streamed the attack, and started his shooting spree in the parking lot.


The 180 page screed he posted to his Google Drive as well as a private discord channel elaborated on his white supremacy and various radical ideologies. Within these pages, he referred to himself as a fascist, white supremacist , and anti-semite. He referenced greatly Brenton Tarrant, Dylan Roof, and Tucker Carlson. Brenton Tarrant is the gunman who killed 51 muslims in two New Zealand mosques; Dylan Roof is the white supremacist who killed 9 worshipers in a Black church; and Tucker Carlson is infamous for pushing the great replacement theory and various other white supremacist ideologies on his platforms.


There are two main points he discusses in his screed that are worth mentioning.

The first is the great replacement theory that pushes Genrdron’s motives. The Second is ecofascism.


The Great Replacement Theory

The great replacement theory is a grasp at the concept of reverse racism. As often stated, reverse racism does not work in the way racism does - simply because the population of Caucasian Americans greatly dominates over the population of other minority groups. It is a belief (sometimes called a conspiracy theory) held by many white supremacists which states that immigration policies are part of a master plot to undermine the political power of white people in the West.

There are three prominent iterations of the theory as described by the National Immigration Forum:

  1. The rhetoric of invasion uses martial and violent rhetoric to explain how the migrant invasion needs to be stopped before immigrants and refugees "conquer white America."

  2. The voter replacement iteration circles around the idea that migrants will vote a certain way (they are referring to migrants being more left-leaning). Their conspiracy is that migrants and pro-immigration policies are being used to take away from the political influence of white Americans.

  3. The last iteration is antisemitism. It follows the notion that Jewish elites are responsible for this replacement plot against legacy Americans.


The great replacement theory originated in France in 1973 in Jean Raspail’s novel The Camp of the Saints. It started to spread in the US in the 2010s. During the 2017 “Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, white supremacists, Neo-nazis, and various alt-right participants chanted “you will not replace us” and "Jews will not replace us." The rally on August 12 resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, when James Alex Fields, Jr. deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally.


One prominent American who has held and shared this racist conspiracy with his viewers and followers is Tucker Carlson. He first mentioned the theory on his show Tucker Carlson Tonight on April 8 2021 and then again on September 22. Following the second episode on the theory, Carlson garnered support from representatives, governors, and alt-right entertainers.

“They want to change America, they want to replace the American electorate with third-world immigrants that are coming in illegally.” - Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas)

Representative Matt Gaetz tweeted: "@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America."


Since the shooting , Tucker Carlson has tried to separate himself from the conversation, and many of his followers and supporters have stood by his First Amendment right to free speech. He referred to the terrorist in Buffalo as mentally ill and stated that the 180 pages he wrote don’t add up to a manifesto.


While free speech is often used as a guise to state offensive, divisive, and hateful rhetoric, Tucker Carlson cannot stray from the severity of the situation. As a prominent figure for the right, Tucker Carlson has millions of followers, subscribers, and supporters. Although free speech is a right that all Americans should have, what implications are made by removing blame from Carlson?


Historically, activists and leftists who have used their free speech to push forth their ideologies have been labeled as aggressors, agent provocateurs, and radicals. Malcolm X is an example of this double-standard. One of his famous quotes is “We should be peaceful, law-abiding... But the time has come for the American Negro to fight back in self‐defense whenever and wherever he is being unjustly and unlawfullv attacked.”If in fact the first amendment is a protective shield from outcomes of speech, then Malcolm X was not an inciter of violence.


Free speech cannot be used as a shield from the outcomes. Tucker Carlson was directly referenced as being motivational to the shooter by the shooter. Charlie Kirk and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have also supported and endorsed the great replacement theory. The influence of words inciting violence and mania directly makes the speaker to blame.


Ecofascism

Although the screed that was published by the shooter referenced climate change, it was an unorthodox representation of the problem. The idea of ecofascism scapegoats immigrants and minorities for issues impacting the environment - such as air pollution and plastic waste. It’s greatly related to the racist replacement theory. Vice describes eco-fascism as an ideology “which blames the demise of the environment on overpopulation, immigration, and over-industrialization, problems that followers think could be partly remedied through the mass murder of refugees in Western countries.”

“For too long we have allowed the left to co-opt the environmentalist movement to serve their own needs. The left has controlled all discussion regarding environmental preservation whilst simultaneously presiding over the continued destruction of the natural environment itself through mass immigration and uncontrolled urbanization." - The shooter

Of those mentioned in the screed, Brenton Tarrant and Tucker Carlson can be linked to this ideology. Brenton Tarrant also identified himself as an eco-fascist. Tucker Carlson has also long cited the rhetoric shared by ecofascists without identifying as an ecofascist. Representative Bruce Westerman, a republican delegate of Arkansas, warned of an environmental crisis at the southern border being caused by undocumented immigrants from Mexico.


Although currently the left is predominating the discussion on climate change and climate action, that discussion has been primarily linked to the Paris Agreement, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensuring a sustainable future for the ten billion estimated people by 2050. Republican representatives and voters have long denied the science of climate change. Until recently, many GOP representatives and votes believed climate science to be fabricated. While these views seem to be changing, with now almost 60% of Republicans agreeing that the climate crisis poses a real threat to our populations, it has not always been so.


The hateful ideology of eco-fascism is not linked to climate action. Eco-fascism is a way to place blame on already marginalized groups. Currently, countries with the lowest carbon footprint are those which are deemed as poor or developing. Their citizens who are fleeing to the United States don't contribute to the crisis in a way that is significantly altering our planet's future. The largest contributors to climate change and the climate decline are billion-dollar corporations. America's unsustainable farming practices and meat industry, the oil industry, and global fashion industry are the biggest contributors to the climate decline.

Remembering the Victims:




Pearl Young was a 77 year old black woman. She spent her Saturdays volunteering at a food pantry run by her church. She was a mother to three children and a grandmother to eight. According to the Post, she loved children so much that at 77 she was still working as a substitute teacher. Her favorite soap opera was the young and the restless.

Ruth Whitfield was an 86 year old black woman. She was the mother of retired Buffalo fire commissioner, Garnell Whitfield. She had spent the day taking care of her husband of 68 years at the nursing home and stopped at the grocery store on her way home.

Andre Mackniel, a black man, was at Tops to pick up birthday cake for his son. The 53 year old father and grandfather. His family was too distraught to comment, but his cousin described him as selfless and generous although he had been dealing with the loss of his brother.

Katherine Massey was a 72 year old black woman and active member of her community. She dressed up in costume at the local public school, assisted in elections, and often wrote for the Buffalo Challenger about gun control.

Celestine Chaney was 65 years old, and like most of the victims her crime was being a black woman. She battled brain aneurysms for years and her survival rate was not promising. But she survived until the Age of 65. She also survived breast cancer and chemotherapy. Her son called her a “beautiful person” and a spunky, independent woman.

Margus Morrison was a father, he was a husband, and he was a school bus aide. The 52 year old black male was described by his brother as a joy to be around and he would like his brother to be remembered for his good energy.

Heyward Patterson was a 67 year old black man who went by the nickname “Boy Tenny”. He often drove members of his church to Tops and helped them with groceries. He was a devoted dad, he loved to sing, and he brought joy to his community.

Roberta Drury, was an African-American woman adopted at 18 months into a suburban white family. The 32 year old was no stranger to racism according to her sister. She moved from Syracuse to Buffalo in 2010 to help her brother out with care for his kids while he fought leukemia.

Geraldine Talley was an avid baker and referred to as the sweetest. She was a 62 year old black woman who was at the supermarket with her fiancé running Saturday errands. They had split up to find different items while shopping when the shooting started.

Aaron Salter Jr. was a 55 year old black male and the security guard on duty. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia described him as a hero. He was a retired Buffalo police officer who tried taking down the gunman. In his LinkedIn profile, he describes himself as a jack of all trades and a master of none. He was working on a project to build cars with engines that ran on clean energy.