The right way to understand white nationalist terror

To people in this movement, the impending demographic change understood by many commentators as a soft transformation — the moment when a town, a county, or a nation will no longer be majority-white — isn’t soft at all, but rather represents an apocalyptic threat.

In a decade of studying white power movement activism, I have learned that much of this follows a strategy. First, it claims a state of emergency and gives a rationale for the act of violence.

But critically, it also issues a call to action for others. The El Paso manifesto does so overtly, and offers tactical details about the attacker’s weapons, meant to instruct others. It has specific advice about how to choose targets. It has paragraphs that give rote gesture to not being white supremacist, even as the document invokes phrase after phrase, ideological marker after ideological marker, of the white power movement. These are all markers of the genre.

As horrible as the El Paso attack was, this movement is capable of even larger-scale violence.

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