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The Radicalization of Angry Young White Men

The ideology and the media ecosystem behind it.
May 19, 2022

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tucker Carlson: You’re being replaced and there’s nothing you could do about it. So shut up!

News anchor: A mass shooting killed at least ten people, which investigators believe was a hate crime.

Tim Miller: This is “Not My Party” brought to you by The Bulwark. The tragedy in Buffalo is the latest deadly reminder that the era of the Extremely Online extremist is upon us.

Anonymous man #1: I started to build this hateful mindset . . . of just going out there and killing people.

Miller: These young men were radicalized not by religious clerics or cult leaders, but by message-board messiahs who cloak their radical ideology in memes. The 18-year-old who carried out the latest white supremacist mass murder left no doubt that’s exactly what led him to do it. He wrote in his 180-page manifesto that the idea for the attack came online: “Browsing /pol/ one day I saw a short gif of a man walking into a building and shooting a shotgun through a dark hallway.” That man was the perpetrator of the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which he livestreamed on Facebook.

Economist video voiceover: Nearly two hundred watched his murderous attack live, with many quickly replicating and sharing the footage.

Miller: The Buffalo shooter says he then began researching Christchurch and developed his beliefs, mostly on the internet, where he learned about the Great Replacement theory, which posits that shadowy forces—usually Democrats or Jews—are plotting to replace white European ethnoculture by importing minorities with higher fertility rates.

Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon): Jesus fucking Christ.

Miller: This replacement ideology has flourished in online forums like 8Chan and Gab and Parler where racist blog boys post dehumanizing memes that they often pretend are jokes when called on it.

Nick Fuentes: Irony is so important for giving a lot of like cover and plausible deniability for our views.

Miller: Extremism expert JJ MacNab calls it a new world of ironic killers: “[They] say things that are outrageous that [they] don’t necessarily believe” at first but “over time [they] come to believe” it.

Colin Mitchell (David Furr in BrainDead): There might be mental illness here.

Miller: This ironic pose has another benefit. It gives their racist views the cover they need to seep into mainstream political discourse. I saw this up close in 2016 when Donald Trump quote-tweeted an online troll named “@WhiteGenocideTM” to attack my boss, Jeb Bush. “White genocide,” like Great Replacement, posits that the white race is being exterminated by interracial marriages, like that of Jeb and his white Columba. These bigots claim that white people who participate in this genocide are “race traitors” or “cuckolds” who like to imagine their spouses getting banged by foreigners. Now these online Nazis do seem to spend a lot of time thinking about black and brown dicks.

Mac McDonald (Rob McElhenney on It’s Always Sunny): That makes so much sense.

Miller: Just saying. For a presidential candidate to tweet someone with a view as insane as white genocide was unprecedented.

Elrond (Hugo Weaving in The Fellowship of the Ring): It should have ended that day. . . . Evil was allowed to endure.

Miller: But Trump got away with it because it was “just Twitter.” So we all moved on to the next thing. But these viral moments helped the extremists get new eyeballs. So does Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly aired segments with alt-right provocateurs advancing Great Replacement ideology.

Carlson (in two separate clips): In political terms, this policy is called the Great Replacement. . . . The country’s being stolen from American citizens.

George Carlin: F*** Tucker. Tucker sucks.

Miller: Tucker’s connection to meme culture was no accident. His head writer was outed for posting on racist forums like this one about “JET BLACK congo [n-words].” Carlson has spawned imitators and outlets that appeal to young conservatives like this from the Daily Wire.

Matt Walsh: So they want to replace . . . white male voters with voters who they think are gonna be beholden to them. . . . It’s just a fact.

Miller: And then you have the groypers, a bunch of campus KKK virgins who take the trolling offline.

Nick Fuentes: Dating women is gay.

Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton in It’s Always Sunny): It can be.

Miller: The result is a bunch of entry points for angry young white men who are ripe to be radicalized.

Anonymous man #2: I don’t really have much to lose in my life at this point.

Miller: They come for the lulz, but stay for the surround-sound of rage juice that tells them that they are the victim of modern woke culture. And the most unstable among them get convinced that their only choice is to act. From Christchurch, to Charleston, to El Paso, to Buffalo, we’ve seen the deadly result—which is why we cannot dismiss their lulz as some stupid internet game. I’d like to close this week by remembering the people who are the victims of this latest racist attack.

We’ll see you next week for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.