Following the exact same trend towards “Lone Wolf” action as Dylan Rooff’s recent rampage in South Carolina, John Russell Houser opened fire in a Lafayette theater killing two. A trip into the motivational base of the murders was too spooky for many media outlets who roundly focused on platitudes and offensive questions about a tenuous mental state. The direct line to ideological white nationalism, that was just as present with Houser as it was with Rooff, is only slowing being acknowledged.
In a certain sense, it was even more obvious with Houser and the lack of identification with the far-right in the general discourse is bizarre. He was an avid connoseur of racialized internet forums, the kind of cranky den that those with an anger tinged with racial overtones love to hide in. A few choice examples here show that this was not just a person feeding a deep seated rage, but that he had been invited into the logic of organized Ethnonationalism both on the domestic and international sides.
Writing on a message board for Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn’s proposed New York Office:
Do not mistake yourselves for one minute, the enemy sees all posted on this website. I do not want to discourage the last hope for the best, but you must realize the power of the lone wolf, is the power that come forth in ALL situations.
While Golden Dawn continues to try to skate behind the obvious organized behavior of its members, and continue to make claims about the peaceful nature of nationalism, the obvious correlations to the barely-hidden racialism ties directly to an American history of racist organizing devolving to the point of “lone wolf” massacres.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, Houser left dozens of messages there admiring the Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” campaign, as well as anti-federalist conspiracies that would be familiar to Sovereign Citizen’s and Militia people. It looks like he attended David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) Conference in New Orleans, which made waves after it was released that so did House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. After this was released by a Louisiana blogger, Duke threaten to reveal other GOP players who attended.
For many people it may seem difficult to reconcile the genial appearance of “suit and tie” white nationalism of places like the National Policy Institute and American Renaissance with the violence in Layfayette, but it does not require a creative mind to connect the dots. Houser was a great admirer of The Bell Curve, amongst other books that discussed the connection between race and intelligence. This is foundational of the Human Biological Diversity (HBD) outlook that drives much of the pseudointellectualism of these groups, making wild claims about the myriad of ways that blacks fall short and Jews are exceptionally gifted(apparently, when you go to far up the skills ladder you become dangerous). His online posts reflected an unrestrained personality, one whose intensity is only outdone by its actual action.
Here are a few very choice examples, collected at Medium:
The process has its own individual quirks, but the results are usually the same. The organized racist presence likely has no affinity for the actions(or personality) of people like Houser, but it is their rhetorical framework that gave him the logic he needed to pull the trigger. Even if violence is not discussed, though it is clear that he had been exposed to the more militant “vanguarist” neo-Nazi writings, the process of conspiratorial anti-intellectualism and the devaluation of black bodies is enough to drive someone on the edge into maniacal orgies of personal genocide. A personal disaster can often be enough to allow someone into the most extreme elements of an ideology in which they are already prone to, especially if it requires great personal sacrifice. This happened when Houser was evicted from his home in 2014, which really seemed to further disconnect him from community and a sense of value. It is not this loss alone that creates a shooter, but only when it is fed a diet of explicit victim baiting and race-hatred. You cannot murder with impunity when the people on the other end of the scope are equally human, and the rhetoric of white supremacy begins with the targeting and undermining of black and brown humanity.
In a certain way, it is not even the more militant racist organizations that are to blame since it is clear from his online affiliations that he did not have a personal connection to them. Instead, it is the more politically correct above-ground ones that helped to foster a world view where personal violence was right and reasonable.
There is blame to go around, and this time we don’t need for the shooter to quote a website to know who the culprit is.