The murderer and his victims worshipped just twelve miles apart.
This is just one of many jarring details to emerge after Saturday’s deadly shooting, in which a man filled with traditional markers of promise walked into the Chabad of Poway, Calif. on the last day of Passover and opened fire, killing one worshipper and wounding the rabbi and two others.
John T. Earnest, 19, lived with his parents, attended a high school where his father taught, went to church, and attended college nearby. But it seems he’d found a different home online, lurking for months on the 8chan’s /pol/ board, a discussion forum described by experts as a “gathering place for extremely online neo-Nazis.”
It was there that he found a welcoming community, who echoed his anti-Semitic views and “disgust” for the Jews who seek to “doom” the white race.
And it was there that he published a manifesto filled with hate, prepared to “willingly sacrifice my future…for the sake of my people,” and citing as inspiration the mass shootings at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh in 2018, and the March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand which killed 50 people.
He had learned to follow the new white supremacist terror playbook. Before the attack began, an 8chan user with his name posted to the site, “What I’ve learned here is priceless.” And then, chillingly, “a livestream will begin shortly.”
For whatever reason, his livestream did not work. But the community which foments hate remains largely unchecked.
This was precisely the problem that the recent House Judiciary Committee meeting on hate speech and white supremacy should have been examining, but the convening itself was bogged down first by first by political posturing, and then by hate speech which forced the comments associated with the livestream to be suspended.
Yet, Eileen Hershenov, senior vice president of policy at the Anti-Defamation League did manage to get on the record how 8chan and Gab play a key role in stoking violence around the world. “These platforms are like round-the-clock digital white supremacist rallies,” she said.
But the moment didn’t last.
Bärí A. Williams, vice president of legal, policy, and business affairs at All Turtles and longtime advocate for inclusion in tech, notes that the political convenings about safety in tech have become a cynical and political exercise:
It’s always interesting to see who each organization and company sends to these hearings to articulate its efforts and intentions. I noticed that Facebook and Google sent mid-level black attorneys to address their efforts to limit toxic content on their platforms instead of a VP or C-suite-level executive. And one curious inclusion was Candace Owens, a Republican activist who has turned into a media darling for being . . . a black woman who uses social media to espouse the far-right gospel and who briefly converted Kanye West to her version of “free thinking”(before he reverted back).
And so the hate continues, fueled by its own self-serving propaganda.
Here’s just one chilling metric.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, tells the Los Angeles Times that since 1992 there have only been four years in which hate crimes against a religion exceeded 20 percent of all hate crimes. Three of those four years were recent: 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“Now we are seeing a ‘propaganda of the deed 2.0’, where violent assailants want to commit acts, but also publicize it themselves,” he said. “It’s a chain, almost like a fan club of like-minded violent people.”
Without serious intervention, these events will continue.
Which means that for now, the members of the Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church are alone to sort out how one of their own had become so lost to hate. As are the millions of people who are walking into work all over the country afraid of what may be percolating in their real-world communities and who will be mourned next.
The divide feels insurmountable.
In wrenching testimony, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway explained what it was like to face down the man who had just killed his friend and fellow worshipper, Lori Kaye. “Here is a young man standing with a rifle, pointing right at me, and I look at him. He had sunglasses on. I couldn’t see his eyes. I couldn’t see his soul.”
|South Korea finds a beautiful way to fill seats in rural schools|
|As workers leave the countryside for city lives and the nation’s birth rate plummets, rural schools in South Korea have been desperate for more students. Turns out they were hiding in plain sight. When one administrator began hunting for eligible first graders to save a local school, they realized there were potential students all around them: The many grandmothers who had never learned to read or write. It’s changing the lives of the older women who had been shut out of the school system. “I couldn’t believe this was actually happening to me,” says one. “Carrying a school bag has always been my dream.” Click through for the best picture ever.|
|New York Times|
|A story about real estate trends that should surprise nobody|
|In the past, diversity typically came to white neighborhoods, prompting a white flight. But since 2000, demographic studies show that the reverse is increasingly true. White people are moving into predominantly black cities of all sizes across the country, specifically those which are close to metropolitan areas. The suburbs are becoming increasingly black, Asian American, and Latinx. “The pattern, though still modest in scope, is playing out with remarkable consistency across the country — in ways that jolt the mortgage market, the architecture, the value of land itself,” reports The New York Times. For one thing, white home buyers come into black neighborhoods with higher incomes. As a result, they’re snapping up a majority of the mortgages.|
|New York Times|
|Discrimination in lending is a very big problem|
|Since we’re talking about housing trends, I thought I’d flag this important 2018 report study from Reveal News, that showed that in at least 61 metropolitan areas, black and Latinx families are routinely denied mortgages at rates significantly higher than their white counterparts. Their investigation, which reviewed 31 million records, found a consistent pattern of redlining: Black applicants were turned away at higher rates than whites in 48 cities, Latinx in 25, Asians in nine and Native Americans in three. In Washington, D.C., it was all four. (Click through for an interactive map to see how your zip code fares.) Part of the problem is a failure to follow, update or strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act, a 40-year-old law designed to reverse discrimination in lending. The Trump administration has all but ignored it.|
|How gentrification is destroying black burial sites|
|Christopher Petrella, a teacher and a director at the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University notes that as “progress” comes to traditionally black communities, burial grounds and the history they describe are in danger. “Such struggles should be interpreted as elemental battles over the meaning, matter, and worth of black life, history, and memory,” he begins in this reported essay. He ticks through a series of alarming examples that threaten these burial grounds, including a natural gas pipeline expansion in West Virginia, noting that in many cases, these cemeteries are the only record of otherwise ignored histories. “If black lives are to matter in life, then they also must matter after life,” he says.|
|Greta Thunberg is a role model|
|But more than that, she’s a superhero, suggests Jack Monroe in this important opinion piece. Monroe, who is autistic, shares her own struggles with accepting her neurodivergent brain. She says that the attacks on Thunberg for her climate campaigning – calling her a “millenarian weirdo” with a “monotone voice” about whom there was “something chilling,” are not surprising. “I am frequently told by men that I am aggressive and difficult, awkward, and unapproachable, traits I put down to being a bit butch and a lot gay – but perhaps there is more nuance to it than just fragile masculinity.” But they’ll have no effect. Thunberg is teaching the world that her brain is a strength, not a liability. “It took 24 years for me to harness my autistic traits into something useful, and I have grown to regard them as a kind of superpower,” she writes.|
|Stop using black women as props, powerful people|
|Bärí A. Williams is vice president of legal, policy, and business affairs at All Turtles, but has had a long career in tech. But she’s also an advocate for inclusion and was raised by powerful black women. These many identities came into sharp focus, she says, when she watched the House Judiciary hearing on hate crimes and the spread of white identity ideology, and took note of who tech firms sent to represent them. “I noticed that Facebook and Google sent mid-level black attorneys to address their efforts to limit toxic content on their platforms instead of a VP or C-suite-level executive,” a red flag that tokenism was on display. That politicians do the same thing, using black women as silent props in meetings and photos, should be a rallying cry. “Powerful white tech executives are not the same as Trump administration officials and their Republican allies in Congress, but there are parallels when it comes to their willingness to use black women to protect themselves,” she says. “And I wasn’t raised to be a token.” And neither were you.|