This is what we must rather assume at least if we are to take seriously the argument on offer here. When a young disturbed white guy goes and shoots a people or two at a synagogue it’s ideology itself, that of white supremacy, that must be considered as the cause. That disgraceful action itself must be considered in the terms the shooter himself is using to explain why he’s doing it.
It’s not a matter of some young men being disturbed and using whatever to hang their disturbance on. It’s not the oppressions of modern society or anything. If someone says they’re killing people because they actually believe in white supremacy then we should believe them and assume that white supremacy is the reason they’re killing people:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This is a common response from even the more thoughtful conservative corners in the aftermath of white supremacist terror: to play up the “troubled young man” argument and minimize the explanatory power of ideology itself. In Geraghty’s view, white supremacist violence seems to be an almost arbitrary manifestation of some underlying and enigmatic malaise. His colleague David French suggests that the Poway shooting is somehow the consequence of “the denial of inherent masculinity.” (Or perhaps the “indulgence” of it—it’s not clear.) (Update: French points out on Twitter that he actually has written specifically about the need for conservatives to pay attention to white supremacy.) In 2017, following the Charlottesville rally that left one counter-protestor dead and prompted Donald Trump to infamously claim that there were “very fine people” marching among the neo-Nazis, Kevin Williamson concluded that the young men who gravitate to these groups are gullible losers who “are missing something necessary at the center of them” and looking for “hope.” It’s as though people like John Earnest are hungry motorists and white supremacy just happens to be the first fast food joint off the highway.[/perfectpullquote]
OK. We’re fine with this and the explanatory power of that argument. People do kill just because they’re infected with an evil ideology, not because of some oddity or oppression that uses said ideology just as the proximate, not ultimate, cause.
At which point we’ve also got to concluded that bombings of Sri Lankan churches are the result of an ideology, as expressed by those who do it, not the result of some other reason or oppression. If synagogue shootings are caused by white supremacy then the shootings of Copts are equally caused by the stated ideology of the shooters.
That is, if white supremacy is the real and true reason for one set of horrors them Islamic theology – distorted though it may be from the real thing – is the cause of that other set of horrors. 9/11 wasn’t some cry of the oppressed by capitalism it was as those who did it insisted, a strike by the Holy Warriors of Islam against the Great Satan.
The thing is we just can’t bring ourselves to believe that a writer at the Washington Monthly would say that same thing. Indeed, he argues the other way:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]There is a word for this: radicalization. Earnest was radicalized into white supremacist violence. And while it is indeed hard to fathom why a seemingly well-adjusted young man would decide to attempt mass murder, recall that conservative pundits and politicians have no problem attributing suicidal violence to ideology when the cause is radical Islam. In those cases, the ideology behind the violence is of paramount importance. Here’s Geraghty in 2015: “The perpetrators of these atrocities claim to act in the name of Islam, and they seek to implement, by force, a system of rule where everything must be Islamic. If the term ‘Islamist’ is sufficiently accurate and fair for The New York Times and The Washington Post, why is it not good enough for the Obama administration?” It isn’t just Islamism: conservatives are eager to blame left-wing philosophies (socialism, “cultural Marxism”) for all manner of ills, including genocide.[/perfectpullquote]
OK, we agree. There are ideologies which are evil, which encourage the impressionable to go out and shoot people. White supremacy is one of them, the extremes of Islam and of socialism another two. So, we’re going to righteously shun those, censor them, who espouse all three of them, right?
Or, because reasons?