There is not much to say about mass shootings. The violence horrifies us, depresses us, we move on — on social media, this process can take a few seconds. The other media routine follows: endless, circular debates on guns are given another spin in the barrel. If the killer is white, somebody important (step up Beto O’Rourke) angrily says it is Trump’s fault. That invites anger in return. Culture wars subsume the story.
Sometimes, a frightening viral video emerges, or what hacks call a ‘disturbing insight into the mind of the killer’. These excite our emotions a little longer. Deranged maniacs know that, which is why we now increasingly see their ‘manifestos’ — long pseudo-intellectual declarations of purpose — posted online. These are invariably called ‘chilling’.
But the statements don’t really chill. The most shocking thing about them is not how cold or calculated they are. It’s how careless and slapdash. These suicidal murderers discourse at length about the collapse of western civilization, the destruction of the white race, the great racial struggle. They are willing to kill and die to draw attention to their cause. They want their views to be known to the world. But then, meh.
‘I figured that an under-prepared attack and a meh manifesto is better than no attack and no manifesto,’ says Patrick Crusius, the El Paso shooter, by way of apology for his vague rambling. Are better, Patrick, are, but who cares? You don’t, clearly. The pathos in that ‘meh’ says more about you and the decline of western civilization than anything in your crime. Crusius is about to go out in a blaze of guns and, in his mind, glory. He wants, at some level, to carry out a great historic act that will echo down the centuries — but he also can’t be bothered.
Crusius says he was inspired by Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch killer, who wrote his ‘The Great Replacement’ manifesto before he ended 51 lives at a Mosque.
‘The Great Replacement’ could have done with a good proofread. It was littered with typos and sloppiness. For instance, ‘Don’t believe me, can anymore tell you the motivation of the Madrid train bomber attackers?’
I realize that it’s silly, when talking about monomaniacal lunatics, to expect what print journalists call ‘camera ready copy’. Still, this psychotic apathy just makes their crimes more deeply disturbing. These young men are prepared to carry out such evil — destroying their lives and those of many others — and pretend it is all for some heroic, esoteric cause. Yet they don’t really care. Meh.