A Second Civil War

I have been brooding over the implications of the racist massacre in Buffalo.

The facts are not in dispute.A teenage White Supremacist drove over 200 miles so that he could kill Black people who would be shopping in a supermarket located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. He killed 10 people and wounded three others. Reports tell us that this particular mass shooting was the deadliest in the United States so far this year.

This year. We’re 19 weeks in, and according to NPR, America has already had 198 mass shootings.

The 18-year-old shooter, Payton S. Gendron, livestreamed the gruesome attack as he mowed down shoppers and store employees.

Why would an 18-year-old drive to a neighborhood where he knew no one, specifically in order to kill people who had done him no harm? According to multiple reports, a manifesto he had authored and posted online repeatedly invoked the racist charge that white Americans were at risk of being “replaced” by people of color.

The New York Times newsletter described his entrance into the supermarket.

Around 2:30 p.m., as shoppers filled the Tops supermarket, the suspect arrived wearing body armor, tactical gear and a helmet with a video camera attached. He carried an assault rifle with an anti-Black slur written on the barrel and began firing in the parking lot. Three victims were killed outside, and one was wounded.

And as to motive…

The attack appeared to be inspired by earlier mass shootings motivated by racial hatred, including a 2019 mosque shooting in New Zealand and a massacre at a Texas Walmart that same year, according to the manifesto.

In chilling detail, the document outlined a plan to kill as many Black people as possible, including the type of gun to use, a timeline, a specific parking spot and where to eat ahead of time.

Gendron wrote that he chose the area of the supermarket because it was home to the largest percentage of Black residents near his home in New York’s largely white Southern Tier.

So here we are. Some 80% of voters want additional controls on gun purchases, but  rather than imposing reasonable restrictions or improving background checks, extremist politicians in states like Indiana continue to relax existing gun regulations. That permissiveness allows mental cases, domestic abusers and avowed racists access to weapons that should be limited to military use, permitting deranged shooters to inflict far more death and destruction than would otherwise be possible.

According to one report, Gendron was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear, a bulletproof vest and a tactical helmet, along with the camera that allowed him to livestream what he was doing. His firearms included a semi-automatic rifle, a hunting rifle and a shotgun, which were all purchased legally.

As stupid and unforgivable as Americans’ gun fetish is, it is White Supremacist hatred that is most horrific. This twisted young man killed people based on the color of their skin. These weren’t people he knew, people who might have somehow angered him. They were just “other”–and somewhere in his misbegotten life, he had come to believe that the mere existence of people with skin color unlike his own constituted an injury so great, so monumental, he would be justified in eradicating it.

We will undoubtedly hear from the defenders of an imagined version of the Second Amendment that the problem isn’t guns, it’s mental illness. Rational individuals will respond that (1) most people suffering from mental illness are not dangerous, and (2)  giving easy access to deadly weapons to the people who do display murderous impulses is its own form of insanity.

Racist domestic attacks have been increasing, along with all the other signs of a disintegrating national culture. It isn’t as if we couldn’t see this coming; over a year ago, an article in The Guardian reported

Racially motivated extremists pose the most lethal domestic terrorism threats to the US, according to an unclassified intelligence report that warned that the threats could grow this year.

The blunt assessment, in a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, echoes warnings made by US officials, including the FBI director, Christopher Wray, who testified earlier this month that the threat from domestic violent extremism was “metastasizing” across the country.

Meanwhile, American government is gridlocked by a combination of obsolete political systems and the devolution of the GOP into a racist, misogynist cult intent on reversing fifty-plus years of human rights progress.

It’s hard not to agree with a bystander interviewed by the Guardian

“I do know that this isn’t the first time this has happened in America, so this will be pretty much the same,” said Lewis. “There will be candles, probably have a march, some preaching. But nothing that needs to be done is going to be done.”

Unfortunately, he’s probably right.


  1. Personally, I would like to see the Murdochs….Rupert and Lachlan……forced to sell Fox et al. They have both violated the public trust by using public airwaves to spread hate speech…. not my idea of public service.

  2. We see corporate America continue to fund the spread of crazy dangerous dogma. Should the funding of this hate bring some liability to those who are funding the crazy?
    If they pay the bills for Tucker, are they complicit legally? Is anybody or anything responsible for this? Not so far.

  3. Joe Biden has appointed a csar to his disinformation board. Let’s see if she starts to tag hate speech and false claims coming from national television networks and newspapers.

    She can use the existing tools to demonetize those outlets and provide labels for social media posts that share the media on specific platforms.

    Political party leadership can condemn speech and communication within their own party echo chambers.

    The tools are there, but what about willpower?

  4. How many times have the phrase “thoughts and prayers” been uttered?

    Words matter! And so do the lack of words! The inability of government to protect its citizens against other citizens intent on wreaking havoc including murder, because conspiracy theories promoted by politicians and related organizations are allowed to Fester because of some sort of political immunity!

    Do thoughts and prayers stop The grieving process? Do thoughts and prayers resurrect The Dead victims? How many times do the same things have to happen over and over again? The Las Vegas massacre was terrible, how many have occurred since then? How many occurred before? The same could be said for Sandy Hook! The same could be said for Columbine!

    Thoughts and prayers don’t work if human life is not valued! When you have Nazis like Tucker Carlson on network television spewing white supremacist agenda, how can that type of hatred be allowed? It’s like pumping nerve gas into the homes of America! That rhetoric being spewed kills just as easily as nerve gas. We could call it the “breath of death!”

    There has to be more than thoughts and prayers, useless often repeated words that actually mean nothing!

  5. Mike Pence is campaigning to weaken Red Flag laws. He’s concerned they might take guns away from people.

  6. Per Rachel Madden last night; Gendron had been “investigated” earlier (he IS only 18, his “earlier” age not given) for his racist postings and threats. His peers knew of his threats and were afraid of him. Local police in his home city ignored the “red flags” regarding his possible danger to others. More “boys will be boys” view of an obviously troubled teen? At age 18, he is considered an adult and his civil right to purchase military level weapons could not be infringed upon. But where were his parents in this; an 18 year old (no mention of being employed) had the cash or credit card to purchase expensive military weapon, ammunition and body armor. The Tops’ security guard acted immediately and lost his life along with the other innocent victims.

    Rachel also gave a brief history of that historic Black area of Buffalo, New York. Once a thriving middle-class Black neighborhood until Buffalo decided the white residents needed a highway to travel faster from their suburbs to the downtown area and demolished the path through the center of that area, not unlike Grant’s “scorched earth” path through Georgia, cutting it in half. The opening of Tops supermarket was a victory for Black residents who had been cut off from access to food stores when the highway cut through their neighborhood. I immediately thought of the many times Sheila has referred to the now mass tangle of interstates through and across neighborhoods resulting in the downtown “spaghetti bowl”. Conditions in those affected residences and businesses has deteriorated and infrastructure maintenance is ignored, adding to the deterioration. The gun problems in those areas are basically localized; aided by Indiana’s lax gun laws and lack of actions taken by police. What help that is provided in Indy’s most troubled areas is provided by Black ministers working together. This doesn’t mean we are safe from mass shootings such as happened at that Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Many years ago, Sam Jones, Director of Indianapolis Urban League, begged the young Blacks to stop killing one another. Mr. Jones was ignored then and we are paying for it today with these neighborhood Civil Wars.

    “Meanwhile, American government is gridlocked by a combination of obsolete political systems and the devolution of the GOP into a racist, misogynist cult intent on reversing fifty-plus years of human rights progress.”

    Shame on us; as a city, a state and as a nation.

  7. If Gendron is an example of the whites who are or pretend to be fearful of replacement, let’s hope that group’s “fears” are realized. The problem in holding such as Trump and Rupert and parents and gun manufacturers liable in tort is the old bugaboo of remoteness/causation. Perhaps a federal tort via statute can be fashioned setting out new standards for civil liability in such connection.

    Reason and moral understanding aren’t working; perhaps heavier criminal sanctions in sentencing guidelines against those who kill and civil sanctions against those who negligently assist in the process would at least slow this slaughter. The Founders did not intend that the Second Amendment serve as a vehicle for mass slaughter, whatever the motive real or pretended.

  8. This is another normalizing event. Giving implied encouragement and permission to act in this manner – if it’s not moderated and reversed, your statements of another civil war are incorrect only because progressives refuse to arm themselves. It won’t be a war, it will be a slaughter.

    I hate being this way- it’s a problem that could be stopped – but as long as the good people refuse to even look at the true range of possibilities- we’re in true danger

  9. The 2nd Amendment is deeply problematic. I read an entire book about it by Michael Waldman and highly recommend it. Unlike banning abortion, which is not mentioned as an enumerated power in either the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution (and why it should be a protected right to have one) bearing arms is not only mentioned, it occupies the lofty perch as the 2nd Amendment….even before protections against unreasonable search and siezure.

    But among other things in common between abortion and guns one stands out: neither will be resolved without further amending our Constitution. That’s because passing laws, even with a 60-vote majority in the Senate, can be reversed with changes in the direction of political winds. That is exactly what has happened but not through conservatives and fascists achieving super-majority status in the Senate but rather by funneling dark money into causes and political campaigns to win the White House and at least 50 Senate seats, combined with one of the shrewdest if not despicable Senate Majority Leaders in Mitch McConnell, to stack the US Supreme Court with partisan hacks willing to hide behind theoretical inventions called originalism and textualism and overturn past court decisions in place for so long they were considered the law of the land.

    But getting 38 states ratify one or more Constitutional Amendments will require dramatic transformations in the makeup of legislatures in at least 10-13 states. And the only way to accomplish this is the same way that the Republicans and fascists have…by paying a LOT more attention to state-level politics. So far no one among the national Dem glitterati have figured that out as they continue to focus all their energy on a handful of Governor and US Senate races election after election…many of them lost causes from the start.

    There’s a new look and feel to the Dem Party at the state level in Indiana thanks to Mike Schmull, his staff and a growing network of volunteers. But looks and feels don’t win elections….money and relentless campaigning do. This is not the first time I’ve asked Hoosier readers of this blog to look around the state for a race that could flip Dem (or a Dem seat at risk of flipping R). So asking again!

  10. The 2nd Amendment, along with the unbridled growth of retail arms and ammunition the amendment has spawned, has been hijacked by nefarious groups and individuals who have never read The Constitution in its entirety and have no interest to advance its lofty aims for mutual benefit of The American People other than their own nefarious treasonist aims.

    The Second Amendment has been weaponized and our deployed law enforcement, both public and private, are out gunned and out armored. Other than serving one’s out sized political interests, I cannot fathom any scholar of our Constitution finding hospitality for this absurd interpretation of intent in 1776.

    If the super market in Buffalo, or anywhere in America, were attacked by an intrusion of foreign operatives using same military hardware, would we be as quick to invoke the Second Amendment?

    A mental health problem? Hmmm. The same erudite politicians making that claim are unwilling to fund a far more adequate mental health system, much less fund the massive deployment of fully armed superior forces to protect The American People from the weaponized Second Amendment.

  11. Sometimes I wish for the good old days, when Black Panthers buying automatic rifles caused such panic among Republicans that Ron Reagan and friends banned those weapons. Too bad we couldn’t scare “W” enough to renew the ban.

  12. JoAnn,

    Excellent excellent excellent this morning! I love it!

    Patrick and Norris,

    Right on point this morning. Your comments together along with JoAnn, really are an excellent summation of Sheila’s particular thread this morning.

  13. I can’t help wondering where and how this young terrorist became so warped. Surely SOMEONE must have noticed? What poison came into his young life and what parts have his parents played?

  14. Per John: “Thoughts and prayers don’t work if human life is not valued!” This is bigger than guns and racism. We just have seen millions of people refuse to put on masks to potentially save the lives of innocent people, especially children who had no vaccine available.

    DARK times we are in…

  15. I don’t think the Civil War ever really ended. When the carpetbaggers “invaded” the prostrate South after the shooting stopped, it fueled eternal resentment against the “Yankees”. The freed slaves became, of course, the eternal whipping boy for that resentment and hate. Lynchings STILL haven’t stopped. These racially-based mass shootings are today’s lynchings done by the lunatic fringes that Fox News depends on for revenue.

    The Second Amendment’s language was couched so that southern slave owners could legally bear arms against slave uprisings and to form posses to chase down runaways. THAT is how deep the racism goes. The Second Amendment is a pro-racist addition that the courts tried to de-fang by creating the legal interpretation of a National Guard. Fat chance. The right-wing hatred simply never went away after the abolition of slavery and the near-total destruction of the Confederacy and its traditional economy.

    These racially-based mass shootings are a result of the continued “education” of subsequent generations by hateful, ignorant and quite stupid white people who feel so psychologically inadequate that they create false fears to justify their paranoia and resulting hatefulness. How does that get legislated by anyone, never mind Republicans like Mike Pence who barely has two neurons to rub together?

  16. And of course the NRA, that great organization ( gasp) that proclaims to promote law & order along with protecting a version of the 2nd will have as guest speaker the Mango Messiah that helps promote this racist dialog by insisting millions of illegals voted for Hillary in 2016 denying him his “legitimate” win. The same “president” who incited the storming of the Capitol Building, whose supporters are doing their best to obstruct a congressional investigation and by implication legal investigations into that riot that injured and killed several people.

    We are in deep trouble if this fascist nonsense stands.

  17. How many times have I read that the NRA is just about to be closed down? It was the NRA that initiated the BS it being the mentally ill who are dangerous, that has bankrolled so many pro-gun legislators, and blocked congress fro doing any research on gun violence.

    Yes, Fox, and the Murdochs need to be reigned in!

    Mental illness? Is it not a form of same when people believe in groundless conspiracy theories, whether QAnon, or “Replacement?” While they live in a delusional fog?

    I will suggest, one more time, that the growth, at the least, of this craziness can all be laid at Trump’s xenophobic, delusional feet.

  18. This shooting incident was particularly poignant to me, as I lived about a 1/2 mile from that Tops supermarket in the 70s. The whole area around the supermarket is a famously African American area. I returned to visit a few years ago, I noticed that it deteriorated significantly. Having lived in two nearby neighborhoods, it felt pretty mellow, as I was, as a white person, definitely in the minority. It’s as if the cancer of hate was shipped in by this a$$hole. Also not sure why he didn’t go to Binghampton or Albany, which were much closer to his hometown. And that fellow is right, nothing will change. At least for a while.

  19. We have to call out the politicians for what they are. It’s not nice or civil, but needs to be said. We need to put up billboards with names and the statements these idiots have uttered. We need to see profits and tax breaks for what they are. We need to admit to our past, evil policies that we have tried to white-wash since the founding or our country. We have to accept that many of our wars were just for profit. We have to stop using distractions as our main news stories. If we do not take care of the health of our citizens, education of our children and employment that actually serves the world, making it a place to live, rather than a place to die, we will surely become extinct, just like the plants and animals that we are now destroying. If prayers help you, go for it. But without actions to correct our mistakes – – pray is useless. Thank you, Sheila, for keeping us focused.

  20. In the extremist Republican politician’s latest battle in the culture wars that they feel they need in order to obtain and maintain power in the US, they preach that Democrats have a successful plot going on to attract dark skin Americans (South and Central) over the southern borders (even though they can’t vote here) in order to vote for Democrats to take over the country. In Payton Gendron’s demented mind his patriotic act of resistance was to kill as many American citizens of African descent to prevent the Democrat plot from being successful. For that he threw away his life and theirs.

    Think of the soup of crazed thinking he must have been cooking in over his 18 years for that to have become his final act of life. Of course those who made the soup can and do say, sad that he was such a troubled soul but we aren’t accountable for his act of desperation.

    This is a reenactment of the war crimes trials throughout history where the conscripted soldiers plead, we were just following orders, and the generals plead, we didn’t hurt anyone ourselves.

    At issue here is really the Constitutional freedom of speech prohibition of government from restricting speech as it applies to the soup making apparatus that caused the troubled mind to snap.

    In this world of 24/7 pervasive, persuasive advertising media, and given the self proscribed inability of government to solve the problem, we the people are the last ones standing and we have to solve the problem.

  21. Tweet from a sitting TX US House member:

    “Hey race-baiting leftists, I am much more opposed to liberal white “replacements” coming to Texas & perfectly happy to have “brown” people you all like to endanger for your political games legally come! Tell you what, how about you leave & we swap in 10 “brown” people!”

    My boy, Chip Roy, MAGA incarnate…

    The world we live in…people worship his “straight shooting” mouth…no need for guns.

  22. Lester,

    Yes. Perfect quote selection to support my points made above. Roy is just another Texas Republican who has lost his mind – if he ever had one – and must resort to the projection behavior of Redneck Nation. Thanks for the perfect example of our “civil” war.

  23. A fear almost as great as a “civil war”, is that we settle into normalcy.

  24. Just the facts, m’am…Over the past decade, the Anti-Defamation League has counted about 450 U.S. murders committed by political extremists.

    Of these 450 killings, right-wing extremists committed about 75 percent. Islamic extremists were responsible for about 20 percent, and left-wing extremists were responsible for 4 percent.

    Nearly half of the murders were specifically tied to white supremacists.

    Ready for war? ’24?

  25. This is mostly of a repeat of my post from yesterday.

    I think we are finally getting to the point where 20 years of policy pushing for unfettered freedom for the right bear arms is really starting to show. Mass shootings are being reported at any large gathering, with multiples in a weekend, and even multiples at the same event. I think that Republicans have dismissed the rising gun violence as Black inner city problems, but it is starting to show up everywhere now. I think the reason the recent shooting at a car show in rural Alabama made the news is that it happened in white rural Alabama and people were shocked that gun violence was not just a Black inner city problem.

    Curfews at Florida spring break resort towns is the only tool that Florida police have to ensure public safety. People are free to bear arms, but who cares if everyone else gives up their freedom to even be out of my house after dark? It seems like a small but reasonable step to give up everyone’s freedom so that gun owners have an unrestricted right to bear arms, but like a previous blog about Hitler’s take-over of Germany pointed out, it was just small seemingly reasonable steps until you’re in over your head.

    Until fairly recent history, it was always understood that the government had a role (even at the federal level) of controlling guns in society. The idea now that more guns will make people safer seems to be falling apart, but I suspect it will take a several more years, maybe even another generation, and a lot more deaths before enough people wake up to the fact that the government should have than role in controlling who, how many, and what kind of guns should be out there. Otherwise, we will be shopping for houses with kevlar house wrap and bullet proof windows, while staying home after dark because we are not allowed out.

    The attitude about guns mixing with mental illness is about the same as the politicized attitudes about COVID. Sort of, oh well, it might happen, but by God i’m free because I’m not wearing a mask and I’m carrying my gun.

    (sarcasm)You might get real dead too, but nobody could have predict that! (end sarcasm)

  26. There is no rationality anymore. Here in Chicago the other day, a fellow was arrested for telling, through emails, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and States attorney Kim Fox that he was going to put a bullet in the back of their head if they didn’t start prosecuting lawbreakers! All of that after calling them the n-word. Of course when he was arrested he claimed he didn’t mean it, but then again, what rational individual would think doing something like that is okay? Probably someone that listens to Tucker Carlson!

    That kid in Buffalo that shot up the Tops store, probably was emboldened by Kyle Rittenhouse getting off scot-free.

    There are always consequences for actions, unfortunately, looking at the calm water on the beach, they swim out and bask in the sun on their floaties, but forget about the undertow! The undertow gets everyone. Man, woman, child, even lifeguard! Donald the permission slip, just emboldened The lunatic Fringe to become mainstream! And, those that you thought have some sort of neurological activity, obviously do not! When you look at Mike Pence, his eyes are dead! The same with his former boss! Get a chance to look at Tucker Carlson? Exactly the same! And, almost of those folks, the ilk that sticks together also radicalize together! The opportunity to Garner absolute power is irresistible! It corrupts the conscience, it warps reality, it destroys society!

    We don’t have to be attacked from across the pond, it’s being done through our phones and computers! It enthralls the weak-minded, it uses the mentally deficient, those who are inclined to be addictive in one way or another.

    History is cyclical, and, if it’s time it’s time!

    The current president could put the kibosh on all of this stuff today! But, why not just wait till everything is flushed down the toilet of History? No foresight, can’t see the forest because there’s a tree in the way! Kind of typical.

  27. I’ve play with the idea of getting 3-4 of us to get AR 15s and just walk around some…maybe walk through a local park…along the main street…

    Would scare some people but not really illegal or??

  28. The live stream video was copied before taken down on Twitch (owned by Amazon) in 2 minutes flat. It was shared on Facebook and left there for 10 freaking hours! Millions of views while they, Facebook, looked the other way!

    The other racist mass shooting was in CA. The immigrate Chinese man who has lived in the states for decades drove from Las Vegas to CA to attack the Taiwanese CHuRCH! Because of the political systems of his home country over there. Another racist hate crime just hours after the Buffalo one!

    That 18 year old was radicalized online by the dark web. That’s why it needs to be controlled and monitored. And the guns! But the country is too far gone. You all are screwed. Ya’ll need to invest in N95 masks and body armor to get groceries, or go to church, or to the mall. Good luck with that.

  29. Should someone mention the video this past weekend of the white child belligerently storming to home of a black neighbor, banging on the door with his fists, then lashing said door with a whip! WTF! What is that all about. Where’d he learn to do something like that‽ Think I’ll not even mention the aftermath …

  30. An author recently suggested that if there is a second civil war it will begin with a series of uncoordinated seemingly random attacks. I feel like this process of disintegration has begun. Hard to see the present polarization ending peacefully

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