Buffalo shooting shows ‘white supremacy, neo-Nazi ideology’ will further tear Western society apart
Published: May 16, 2022 11:31 PM Updated: May 17, 2022 12:59 AM
White supremacists: US' biggest domestic terrorism Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT

White supremacists: US' biggest domestic terrorism Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT

The shooting that left 10 people dead and another three wounded at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, carried out by an 18-year-old white young man is the latest sign that the dangerous white supremacy and neo-Nazi ideology tolerated by major Western countries could do terrible harm to Western society, with analysts saying that such "lone wolf" attacks could continue to emerge and even turn into organized crime and violence against non-white ethnic groups.

The US and other Western European countries with similar social and economic problems, such as immigrant crises and racism, as well as an increasing wealth gap, are failing to fundamentally solve the problem, and attacks like the Buffalo shooting will anger other ethnic groups with non-Western cultural backgrounds and motivate anti-Western or anti-white extreme ideologies among other races and cause them to retaliate, said experts on Monday.

More dangerously, as supporting Ukraine and opposing Russia has become the unchallengeable political stance in the West after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began this year, Western mainstream media and governments have tolerated or ignored the problem of growing neo-Nazism in Ukraine targeting Russians or Russian-speaking Ukrainians. With many teenagers from the US and other Western countries inspired by nationalist Ukrainian military groups and organizations like the Azov Battalion and Right Sector, this will make the trend of extremism in the West more and more unstoppable, analysts noted.   

Breeding ground of extremism

Shooting cases are not rare in the US, but the latest one in Buffalo shows some special characteristics that proved that neo-Nazi ideology is growing and continuing to influence white people, especially teenagers, in US society.

The suspect in the Buffalo attack, Payton Gendron, had published a racist manifesto allegedly using the same "black sun" Nazi symbol used by Ukraine's neo-Nazi Azov militia, which is reportedly being trained by NATO forces amid Russia's military operations in Ukraine, media reported.

The 18-year-old shooter also claimed in the 180-page document that he was "radicalized" on the internet during the early days of the COVID pandemic, and not by any people he had met personally. The self-professed white supremacist and anti-Semite said he had found through his "research" low white birth rates across the globe, and that the "crisis" would "ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people," according to media reports. 

The document also stated that he "mostly agreed" with Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who live-streamed his own mass shooting at a mosque in New Zealand in March 2019.

Another similar case happened in Europe in 2011, when an attack in Norway carried out by Anders Behring Breivik left 77 people dead. Analysts said these cases are proof that far-right ideology and even neo-Nazism have continually influenced the West in the past decade and the governments of Western countries have failed to stop this trend.   

The trend was caused by complicated and multiple reasons, including immigrant crises caused by military operations mostly driven by US hegemony that brought disasters to many parts of the third world such as the Middle East, failed gun control in major Western countries like the US, long-standing racial problems in the US and Europe, and economic problems that intensify the conflict between white and non-white races at the bottom rungs of society, experts said. 

Although these attacks motivated by white supremacist far-right ideology are being identified as terrorist attacks in the West, Western governments made very limited efforts to enforce the law against them. 

Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, told the Global Times that especially after four years of Donald Trump's leadership, white supremacists like the Proud Boys, which had been more of a marginalized group, are now more organized and undergo better self-training.

"The key problem is that the white middle and lower classes in the US found that their concerns have not been resolved, and see that the pro-establishment political elites in both the Democratic and Republican parties are trying to please ethnic minorities in the elections, so some of them like Gendron believe that they should solve the problem on their own through violence," Shen said.

Some white people believe their social status is being shattered and threatened by prominent problems involving minority migrants and refugees, triggering them to vent their grievances and express their political demands and will in an extreme and violent way, analysts said.

Dangerous tolerance 

Li Wei, a research fellow of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations on anti-terrorism studies, told the Global Times on Monday that the Five Eyes Alliance headed by the US has the capability to monitor, detect and cut off the spread of extremism online, but it seems like they are showing tolerance to white supremacy and neo-Nazism, which is why attackers like Gendron can use their social media accounts to share their dangerous thoughts. 

Supporters of white supremacist terrorism are growing in the US and some European countries, but they are not newly emerging problems. Traces of extreme white supremacist terrorism or neo-Nazism can be seen in groups such as the notorious Ku Klux Klan and Proud Boys, as well as terrorist acts including the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, Li said. 

White supremacist terrorism has been fueled over the years by the fact that frequent police violence against black people actually ends up being dealt with unfairly, and discrimination and violence against Asian people is not being addressed properly. 

In 2021, the Rittenhouse case resulted in a new wave of protests across the US, some of which escalated into riots, after the trial became deeply politicized amid an intense political struggle between Democrats and Republicans. Shen said this has also encouraged far-right groups to use violence against ethnic groups like African Americans. 

Racism is viewed by the US government as a structural problem in the country brought about by the higher proportion of minorities, while behind the scenes, intensified social contradictions and a divided society are problems that have contributed to forming very fertile soil for white supremacist terrorism, Li said, adding that these problems cannot be solved under the current US system.

Neo-Nazism will be further driven by a bitterly divided American society and ethnic antagonism resulting in white supremacist and racist groups and organizations, such as the Proud Boys and other groups that already exist in the US, to grow faster. The proliferation and legalization of guns in the US will certainly be the catalyst, Li noted. "Organized white supremacist terrorism will definitely do more harm than terrorist attacks launched by lone wolves." 

Despite having the world's strongest terrorist monitoring system that allows the US government to intercept and evaluate any potential terrorist speech or actions by Neo-Nazi supporters before they launch violent acts, it chooses to turn a blind eye, like all members of the Five Eyes alliance have done, Li said. "Turning a blind eye is condoning the extremism of white supremacy."

Analysts said that a greater cause of concern is that when other ethnic groups in the West believe that Western governments are tolerating white supremacy and neo-Nazism, this will form a breeding ground for extremism against white people, and revenge killings could become a frequent occurrence in Western society if Western governments are unable to stop the dangerous trend.