Buffalo shooting prompts promises of new domestic terror legislation. A horrific mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, is bringing out some of people's worst political instincts.
On Saturday, 18-year-old Payton Gendron opened fire in and around a Tops supermarket, killing 10 people and wounding three others in a racially motivated act of violence that he broadcast live on Twitch. Gendron was taken into police custody, has been charged with murder, and pleaded not guilty.
Gendron apparently wrote a manifesto, and it's rife with white supremacist and antisemitic rhetoric, including heavy endorsement of the "replacement" theory. The idea guiding this conspiracy theory is that "many different kinds of social change are connected to a plot by a cabal of elites to eradicate the white race," as University of Chicago history professor Kathleen Belew described it to The New Yorker. "It connects things such as abortion, immigration, gay rights, feminism, residential integration—all of these are seen as part of a series of threats to the white birth rate."
While many are remembering and mourning the victims of Gendron's assault, some politicians and activists have been using the incident to score cheap political points and social media engagement. For instance:
- "In his manifesto, the white supremacist mass shooter…reveals that he was motivated to do so by the 'white replacement theory' that has been pushed by Trump. RT TO EXPOSE TRUMP!" tweeted the political action group Occupy Democrats. It was one of several similar tweets from them.
- "If, when a white supremacist commits a mass shooting or a constitutional right is taken away or an innocent black person is killed by a cop or a book is banned, you say, 'This is not who we are,' remember--this is exactly who the Republicans want us to be," tweeted Mary Trump, a niece of the former president who has been critical of him.
- "Our family is praying for the victims & families of the shootings this weekend and the severe mental health crisis in America," tweeted Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—before quickly adding that America "should only be investing in our own people and our own problems."
Statements like these are extremely crass. But what's not just crass but dangerous are the attempts to use this tragedy to expand federal power.
In Washington, some Democrats are using the Buffalo shooting to push a counterterrorism agenda they had previously been connecting to the January 6 riot. Notably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) said Congress would "consider additional measures to strengthen efforts to combat domestic terrorism."
"Pelosi offered no specifics," notes The New York Times. "But in April, Democrats on the House Judiciary passed a bill that would create permanent offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and FBI 'to monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism.' The proposal would also increase training of local police forces to detect, deter and investigate homegrown terrorism."
In a vacuum, none of that may sound too bad. But the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies have a long history of using terrorism—domestic or otherwise—to push heightened surveillance of activists, to justify mass spying on Americans, to increase censorship, and generally to serve as a reason to ignore civil liberties.
What Gendron did is abhorrent. But "violent acts are already illegal under existing law," as J.D. Tuccille noted during last year's push for a domestic terror laws. "New 'anti-terrorism' tools will inevitably be deployed against those who annoy whoever is currently in office."
Netflix defends pluralistic taste and creative output in a new memo on "artistic expression":
Not everyone will like—or agree with—everything on our service. While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what's appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.
As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values. Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you'd find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.
More on the decision here.
Perspectives on the baby formula shortage. Writers from Reason and elsewhere have been exploring how federal policies have exacerbated the U.S. baby formula shortage:
A lot of people are missing the big picture on the baby formula shortage. This isn't just about potentially tainted formula & its recall….
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) May 13, 2022
Rather than fix the policies that make importing foreign baby formula difficult, lawmakers are instead making noises about asking getting the Federal Trade Commission to intervene.
Meanwhile, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chief Scott Gotlieb told Face the Nation that the agency "didn't exert all the oversight that they could have" at the U.S. facility where potentially tainted formula has caused a nationwide recall. "There were known problems with that facility going back many years or findings on previous inspections."
A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 2019 found that 15 of 16 European formulas it looked at MET FDA NUTRITION REQUIREMENTS.
But "none met all FDA label requirements". So they're illegal here. https://t.co/Sy14j6m68G
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) May 13, 2022
The fact that potentially unsafe formula came from a U.S. plant while U.S. regulators may have been negligent makes the FDA's rejection of European Union baby formula especially ridiculous. The FDA thinks Americans need to be protected from European formula not because it doesn't meet nutritional or sanitation requirements but because the labels don't fit FDA standards.
• New research suggests that "people who are vaccinated and then get infected with omicron may be primed to overcome a broad range of coronavirus variants," Bloomberg reports.
• How did former governor of Texas Rick Perry become a major advocate for psychedelics?
• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "has spent $2.8 billion since 2008 developing surveillance and facial-recognition capabilities, mostly in secrecy and without real oversight," reports Reason's C.J. Ciaramella.
• Bad immigration policy is driving a lifeguard shortage:
Unbelievable. Our horror story immigration laws are a direct threat to Americans this summer because we can't possibly let foreign lifeguards fill these positions. How many people even know the Obama admin capped the Summer Work Travel Program? https://t.co/JpeF35iOw4.
— David Bier (@David_J_Bier) May 14, 2022