Payton Gendron, the Black Sun, and the Great Replacement Smear

Note: 10:44 am blog updated to include a recent tweet on the surrender of Azov Battalion to Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine.

As you might imagine, or maybe you saw for yourself, Twitter yesterday was a total shit storm. I’m sure we will see more of the same today. Progressives aren’t going to let a mass shooting go to waste—at least not a shooting useful to the narrative that white people are the reason we can’t have the good society (as progressives define it, anyway). The elite know that popular ignorance about the demographics of mass killing, a false consciousness the establishment media has spent decades cultivating, allows for a particular albeit fallacious narrative to be reinforced with each new mass shooting, which, in America, can be counted on occurring with frightening frequency.

The Buffalo massacre is yet another installment in what I called in a recent blog entry The Continuing Media Campaign of Disinformation about Race and Violence. The pattern is entirely predictable: mass murder committed by white men is used by progressives as an opportunity to push talking points about alleged racist police killings of black people, the smearing of Muslims as terrorists, and the problem of civilian gun ownership; whereas mass murder committed by blacks and Muslims is either censored or rationalized. To punctuate the narrative, Twitter is awash in images of the Buffalo shooter juxtaposed with images of Kyle Rittenhouse and his AR-15 or US Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky with his family (all seven of them) armed with their AR-15s or US Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado with her four sons with their AR-15s. That both the Massie and Boebert family photos were snapped in front of Christmas trees makes the campaign to bring into disrepute western civilization even more potent.

The Continuing Media Campaign of Disinformation about Race and Violence contains links to some of my many other blogs on this topic. In those blogs, I debunk the prevailing narrative in its various permutations. I show that it’s not true that most mass killing is perpetrated by white men. Indeed, over all, and this is true both proportionally and absolutely, white men are underrepresented in murder, mass or otherwise. Moreover, I show that police kill many more whites every year than members of other racial groups; the selective images of cops taking living whites perpetrators into custody instead of summarily executing them, as the cops are alleged to do in the case of black perpetrators, distort perception. But I don’t want to rehash all of that here (read the blogs). I want to focus instead on the usefulness of the Buffalo massacre in the establishment campaign to weaken nationalist sentiment as the country approaches the mid-term elections. Populist enthusiasm signals real trouble for the globalist agenda. However, the incident is most useful to these ends if a particular element of it is obscured, namely the establishment’s own support for right-wing extremism.

Payton Gendron, the Buffalo shooter.

This is Payton Gendron. Commit this picture to memory. I will recall one of the details in a moment. Gendron shot and killed ten people at a Buffalo supermarket (Tops Friendly Market grocery) in a majority-black neighborhood. Gendron is a white supremacist. It appears from screenshots of his gun that Gendron wrote the names of Waukesha, Wisconsin parade massacre victims on the barrel (he wrote other things on the gun, as well). Waukesha was the site of a black nationalist terrorist attack last year. If you remember, Darrell Brooks, Jr., aka MathBoi Fly, drove his truck through a Christmas parade, intentionally running over participants, killing several of them, mostly old white Christians. Unlike Gendron’s actions, which were immediately acknowledged as domestic terrorism, authorities denied that Brooks’ actions were and the media stopped reporting the story (see Waukesha is Scheduled to be Memory Holed). I understand the President will travel to Buffalo. He avoided Waukesha.

Among the items written on Gendron’s gun was an anti-black slur.

Like some other white supremacists who have recently perpetrated massacres, Gendron posted a manifesto. The Gendron manifesto rehearses themes similar to these in the other manifestos. Sunday morning, The New York Times made note of it, running the headline A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P. The Times reports that the suspect in the Buffalo massacre was a proponent of “replacement theory.” The theory, according to The Times, is associated with the 2018 shooting inside a Pittsburgh synagogue (Tree of Life), in which “a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant ‘invaders’ into the United States.” The white man was Robert Gregory Bowers, who had posted to the social network Gab, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” HIAS stands for Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

The Times continues: “The next year, another white man, angry over what he called ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas,’ opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart, leaving 23 people dead, and later telling police he had sought to kill Mexicans.” That white man, Patrick Crusius, drove eleven hours to commit the slayings. Like Crusius, Gendron, also white, drove several hours from his home to perpetrate his mass murder. Police attribute to Crusius a manifesto that had ant-immigrant and white nationalist themes posted on the message board 8chan. Gab and 8chan are part of the alt-right communication network. Crusius’s manifesto cites the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand as inspiration. The Christchurch shootings, which left 51 people dead, was perpetrated by Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a white supremacist. Prior to the attack, Tarrant had also published an online manifesto. Like Gendron, Tarrant live streamed the massacre.

Having established a pattern, The Times’ article endeavors to link that pattern to populist nationalism. “By his own account, the Buffalo suspect, Payton S. Gendron, followed a lonelier path to radicalization, immersing himself in replacement theory and other kinds of racist and antisemitic content easily found on internet forums, and casting Black Americans, like Hispanic immigrants, as ’replacers’ of white Americans,” writes The Times. “Yet in recent months, versions of the same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party—spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.” Despite what sounds like a rather large crowd of conservatives, only a few are mentioned in the article. One of them is Tucker Carlson, whom I will discuss in a moment. (The Guardian casts a wider net in “Scrutiny of Republicans who embrace ‘great replacement theory’ after Buffalo massacre.”)

But before I turn to Carlson, note the framing. The problem is not an extreme and racialized version of arguments made by the critics and opponents of mass immigration who would never advocate racism let alone mass violence (or at least never have). Instead, criticism and opposition to mass immigration are framed as sanitized and stealthy expressions of white supremacy. This inversion makes it impossible to be a critic of mass immigration without also being a racist. By portraying criticism and opposition to mass immigration as “anti-immigrant” sentiment rooted in “white nationalist” ideology, the establishment in back of the policy of mass immigration stifles criticism and opposition to that policy. The tactic is analogous to an argument claiming that those who criticize the practice of abortion are responsible for abortion clinic bombings. There is no intrinsic connection between criticisms of mass immigration and multiculturalism and racist violence—or even racism.

Carlson joyfully pushing back against the establishment campaign to delegitimize him by smearing him as a white nationalist.

In the blog, The “Great Replacement” as Antiracist Propaganda, I attempt to explain this separation between ideas, on the one hand, and violence, on the other. I write about the campaign against Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, the most popular voice in media presently. Carlson has become a target because of his popularity. I discuss an April 2021 dialog with Mark Steyn wherein Carlson notes that, by promoting immigration from developing countries and pushing policies of multiculturalism over assimilation, the immigration policies of the Democratic Party favor that party’s electoral hegemony over against Republican fortunes. For this rather straightforward observation, the Anti-Defamation League demanded Carlson’s firing. They didn’t get it. (I have written extensively about immigration. See Rationalizing the Border Crisis with Hysteria, Lies, and Smears.)

I note in the blog that Carlson anticipated the accusation that he was advancing a “white supremacist theory,” an argument originally developed as an analysis of state policies that holds that, by recruiting Arab and Muslim populations from Africa and the Middle East, elites sought to change European societies culturally and demographically to undermine organized labor and weaken nationalist sentiment, both steps in regionalizing corporate control over the masses and entrenching capitalist exploitation. In Strange Fruit, Kenan Malik uses the example of capitalist elites in France in the 1970s using Islam as a “stabilizing force” to keep “the faithful” away from “unions or revolutionary parties” (these are the words of Paul Dijoud, Minister for Immigrant Workers). Among the various tactics, the government encouraged employers to build prayer rooms to divert Muslims from militant activity (see Culture Matters: Western Exceptionalism and Socialist Possibility). Keeping newcomers away from native-born workers proved an effective strategy to disorganize the national proletariat. This is the function of diversity. In the 1950s, roughly one-third of French workers belonged to a trade union. Today, less than one in ten. This mirrors the decline in organized labor in the United States during the same period. The decline in labor density in the US follows the opening of the national borders in 1965. (See Joe Biden and the Ultimate Source of Our Strength: “an unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop”; also The Work of Bourgeois Hegemony in the Immigration Debate.)

Why is white supremacist theory in quotes in the above paragraph? Because Arab is an ethnicity and Muslim is a religious category (see Muslims are Not a Race. So why are Academics and Journalists Treating Them as if They Were? See also See Smearing Amy Wax and The Fallacy of Cultural Racism). The so-called replacement theory is not intrinsically a racist theory. People, as Malik points out, are culture-bearers, vessels who carry norms and values often incompatible with the culture of the region to which they are traveling (see Kenan Malik: Assimilation, Multiculturalism, and Immigration). Without vetting the new arrivals and without a comprehensive program of assimilation into culture of the host country, the country will be changed. This is why progressives portray assimilation as racist—it disrupts the work of diversity in disintegrating national identity. To be sure, some nationalists in the United States adapted the theory to explain America’s situation, which for progressives means, by way of the fallacious reasoning, that anybody who suggests elements of the theory enjoy even face validity is a white supremacist or, at the very least, white supremacist adjacent.

I asked readers in that blog to suspend reflex for a moment and think about the elite framing and our current situation rationally: “According to progressives, conservatives worry that changing the demographics of the United States in a direction indicated by past, present, and future patterns of immigration harms the electoral prospects of Republicans.” I continued to write, “Progressives put it like this: The nation will be less white and, since Republicans are the party of white people (black and brown Republicans notwithstanding), and since a white majority signals white supremacy (which is a good reason for getting rid of the white majority), the concern is by definition racist.” I then pointed out the obvious: as a factual matter, mass immigration did change and is changing Europe and the United States.

For progressives, they will say the change is for the better, which sounds like a claim that requires supporting evidence—and an invitation to disagree. But, if you disagree, then you are racist. Given progressive hegemony over the nation’s institutions, disagreeing with pro-immigration propaganda makes the disagreer appear in public as a bad person. I asked in that blog that readers to consider this: “Why are progressives always talking about the value of diversity and eagerly anticipating the time when whites are no longer the majority in America?” Fewer white people is a thing to be celebrated. Personally, I don’t care if whites are a minority (they have always been globally). In fact, I have argued many times that I would prefer we abandon the notion of whiteness—and every other racial category—altogether. But progressives can’t stop talking about race. It is everything to them. They demand we center race to yield a master theory of our circumstances. It’s the wedge they use to divide the proletariat. Therefore, in their worldview, any argument that suggests the status quo of a white majority in the West must be a racist argument. And in a world guided by antiracism, those seeking “racial justice” must actively work to transgress that status quo.

What’s clear in all this is that, to get the public to ignore the elephant in the bedroom, progressives smear conservatives as racists for expressing concern with open borders and multiculturalism by tying that concern to a white supremacist theory, the “replacement theory.” Social democrats do the same thing in Europe. I write in that blog, “The organized response to the effects mass immigration has wrought, namely the populist and nationalist movements seeking national sovereignty and cultural integrity, have been so frequently paired with so many awful labels ‘white supremacist,’ ‘white nationalist,’ ‘fascist,’ ‘Islamophobe,’ ‘nativist,’ ‘xenophobe,’ even ‘Nazi’—that now simply announcing ‘populist’ and ‘nationalist’ will do to make most audiences recoil in disgust and horror.” This smearing of populists and nationalists is dressed as “antiracism” and put at the center of the “struggle for social justice.” Antiracism is the new racism. (For a depth discussion of antiracism, see The Origin and Character of Antiracist Politics.)

With the Buffalo massacre, the corporate state finds an opportunity to ramp up anti-racist propaganda in a campaign to blunt the surge of support for the populist-nationalist element of the Republican Party in the approaching midterms. The Times ends its article with the words of Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America, a group that pursued the successful civil suit against organizers of the 2017 Charlottesville rally. Repeating the inverted frame, Spitalnick argues that the broader promotion of replacement rhetoric normalizes hate and emboldens violent extremists. “This is the inevitable result of the normalization of white supremacist Replacement Theory in all its forms,” Spitalnick said, giving the slander the oomph of a proper noun. “Tucker Carlson may lead that charge—but he’s backed by Republican elected officials and other leaders eager to amplify this deadly conspiracy.” The establishment media means to hang Gendron around the populist-nationalist neck like an albatross. This is a big lie.

Organized frenzy is very often subterfuge. Could this frame be concealing something more than the managed decline of the West? Are there other forces at work here that “normalize hate” and “embolden violent extremists”? Go back and look at the symbol on his Gendron’s vest. It’s a type of sunwheel (sonnenrad in German) called the Black Sun (Schwarze Sonne). It’s a Nazis symbol popular among Eastern European neo-Nazi groups. It was used, for example, as the insignia of the Banderists, fascists who collaborated with the Nazis during WWII. Below is a photo of a Ukrainian soldier wearing the symbol. The photo, which I have shared before, is war propaganda tweeted by NATO leveraging International Women’s Day to promote the righteousness of the Ukrainian military. The popular Ukrainian president Zelensky’s slogan “Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes” is the same slogan as that of the wartime fascists in Ukraine. The current government has adopted the slogan as the country’s national motto. (See The US is Not Provoking Russia—And Other Tall Tales.)

NATO War Propaganda

The Black Sun lurks behind the insignia of Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine based in Mariupol (the coastal region of the Sea of Azov). I blogged about this back in February when Russia invaded Ukraine. In addition to providing context missing in the globalist push for war, I wanted to raise consciousness about the persistent problem of fascism in Eastern Europe, which I have been talking about since the 1990s after Russ Bellant exposed the link between fascist and Nazis sympathizers and the Republican establishment behind George H. W. Bush and his associates (the neoconservatives who came to power under Bush’s son in the 2000s). The history of these links are pursued by Christopher Simpson back to the formation of the national security apparatus and regionalization of Europe and the larger project of transnationalizing capitalism under the Truman Administration. In that blog (History and Sides-Taking in the Russo-Ukrainian War), I document that, in addition to the problem of Ukrainian Nazis terrorizing ethnic Russians residing in parts of the country, NATO expansion has put the military might of the United States behind European Nazism, which now stands at Russia’s doorstep. 

If we reflect on history, the threat Nazism poses to the internal security of Russia is recognized and Russia’s actions makes sense (which is not to say that the invasion was morally correct). Indeed, in light of that history, why the US and the West are backing Ukraine becomes a pressing question. This is all connected to the expansion of NATO in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. NATO’s raison d’état was mutual defense of Europe from the threat of world communism—and fascist and Nazis sympathizers were weaponized in that struggle. With the end of the Soviet Union, and the integration of China into the global capitalist economy, NATO should have been dismantled, its reason for existing having evaporated. Why it was not became clear when NATO bombed Serbia: NATO was a means for establishing a global military net over the whole of the Eurasian landmass. Part of the grand plan is the marginalization and eventual incorporation of the Russian people into the global system. And, of course, to secure trillions of dollars for the military-industrial complex.

The expansion of NATO. Soon Finland and Sweden may be blue.

Has anybody bothered to look at the map of the EU lately? Does it look familiar? Not exactly, but in the main? What country lies at its center? (Find the map before Brexit if you want to feel that the working class somewhere has made a bit of progress in pushing back against the neo-feudalist designs of the world capitalists.)

The European Union
Europe at the Height of German Expansion

This is the white supremacy you are not supposed to consider, even though one of its representatives, wearing its insignia, murdered ten people in Buffalo, New York last Saturday. You’re supposed to consider the white supremacy that allegedly lies behind opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism (see Multiracialism Versus Multiculturalism). The Buffalo massacre should not have you thinking about Western capitalist powers enlarging corporate state power across the globe. It should instead cause you to ignore the purposes and consequences of inviting hundreds of thousands of migrants from around the world to pour across the southern border of the United States. Either pretend the invitation has no purpose or isn’t consequential or, on the positive side, is a thing to celebrate. Or you’re a racist.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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