Monday, March 8, 2021

Tag: Mass Shootings

Mass Shootings, Terrorism & “Western Values”


by Caleb Maupin, New Eastern Outlook:

While the two profiles of mass murderers across the western world in recent years seem totally different from each other, they seem to share a common theme. While the “angry white men” and “ISIS inspired” “Lone Wolves” have different world views, backgrounds, and perspectives, it is in the psychological underpinnings driving of these killers where we can find common ground.

At this point the perpetrators of brutal acts of violence claiming sometimes scores of innocent lives can be divided into two major categories. The first are usually younger American men of European heritage. Devin Kelley who shot up the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas on November 5th, Adam Lanza who mercilessly killed a room of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, James Holmes who gunned down movie goers in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the 1999 Columbine Massacre all fit this profile. While Stephen Craig Paddock, who recently shot down country Music fans in Nevada was much older than other mass murderers, he can still certainly be considered an “angry white man.”

The second group, the “ISIS inspired” “lone wolf” killers, who are usually designated as terrorists due their religious statements, are younger men as well. However, they tend be from immigrant families, though many of them are born in the western country they eventually attack. Omar Mateen who shot up the Pulse night club, New Jersey bomber Ahmed Rahami, Salman Abedi who bombed the Manchester concert, the Tzarnev Brothers who attacked the Boston Marathon, all fit this category of ISIS or Al-Qaeda inspired, lone wolf killers.

The Motivations of Mass Murderers

So, what drives these people to take the lives of random innocent people? Let’s begin with the lone wolves inspired by Wahabbi extremists.

When examining such people, a rational person will ask: Who could be possibly be inspired by an ISIS video? A normal person watches clips of inhumane brutality and is disgusted. They see a person being burned alive, or drowned in a cage, and they are overwhelmed with empathy for the person being subjected to such cruelty. They see a person suffering so horrifically, and feel empathy for the victim, while seeing the perpetrators as cruel and heartless. However, there is a rare type of person who has a different reaction to such films. These deranged individuals, the kind who have tortured animals as children, see such a video, and rather than feeling empathy for the victim, become overwhelmed with admiration for the perpetrators.

Perhaps the person has been emotionally isolated or disconnected from others, not developing proper interpersonal capabilities allowing empathy. Perhaps the person was ruthlessly abused and desperately block out any feelings empathy to avoid recalling their own trauma.  Regardless, the way they process acts of cruelty is to admire the perpetrators, not to sympathize with the victims. They live a bored life, holding contempt for their fellow human beings. Eventually, seeing the ISIS videos inspires them, and they go out and attempt to mimic their atrocities.

When it gets down to it, the mindset of “angry white men” who go on mass shootings is not so different than the mentality of “lone wolves” inspired by ISIS propaganda.

After the infamous Columbine Massacre of 1999, one of the most deadly mass shootings of up to that point, the media was filled with a barrage of falsehoods. Now, almost two decades later we learn that American mainstream media had the story all wrong. The students were not fans of Marilyn Manson. The students were not members of a “Trench Coat Mafia.” They did not execute a classmate for saying “yes” when asked if she was a Christian, and they were not seeking revenge for bullying.

In reality, Eric Harris, the mastermind of the attacks, enjoyed hurting other people. He studied mass murder and acts of brutality, and like those who watch ISIS videos, he admired the perpetrators and felt no sympathy for the victims. Harris’ believed in Social Darwinism, and as he slaughtered his classmates, he wore a T-shirt quoting Charles Darwin’s widely misinterpreted phrase “natural selection.” Harris co-conspirator was Dylan Klebold, a somewhat depressed and troubled person who came under his influence.

Eric Harris fit the profile perfectly, and if he was from an immigrant family and conducting his crimes in more recent years, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine him swearing allegiance to Al-Baghdadi. The ISIS inspired killers and the mass shooters share this lack of empathy, and admiration for inhuman cruelty. Whether they justify it with White Supremacism, Social Darwinism, or a desire to build a Wahabbi Caliphate, these themes of admiring cruelty and lacking basic empathy, are the common psychological thread that ties the actions of mass murderers together.

“Western Values” & Psychopathy

The bigger question is, where does this mindset come from?

In the global mind, mass shooters, ISIS inspired or otherwise, are closely associated with the United States. Michael Moore’s Oscar winning documentary “Bowling For Columbine” explored the question of what within American culture could possibly be driving such horrendous crimes. It has become almost cliché for TV journalists and public intellectuals to tearfully ask “why does this keep happening?” after each occurrence.

In reality, finding the roots of the mindset that drives mass murderers may not be as difficult as the endless amounts of TV news segments, books, and documentary films make it out to be.

One iconic person that emerged in the USA during the dawn of the Cold War is the novelist and pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand’s writings are widely circulated throughout the United States. Business schools often recommend that future entrepreneurs study them. FOX news has run segments promoting Rand’s works in recent years, decades after her death.

The widespread promotion of Ayn Rand’s writings is relevant to the question, because Rand’s mindset has a lot in common with that of mass murderers. Rand espoused a concept called “the virtue of selfishness.” She argued that altruism and empathy, or any form of compassion for others, was the root of society’s problems.

Ayn Rand’s magnum opus “Atlas Shrugged” tells of the “great men” i.e. business owners and inventors, going on strike against a world filled with ungrateful people who tax and regulate them.

In Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead,” the hero breaks into the apartment of a woman and rapes her. Rand doesn’t portray this as a crime, but rather as a heroic event. Howard Roark, her protagonist, is presented as a misunderstood “great man” somehow asserting his natural position of power.

The biography “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right,” describes how shortly after immigrating to the United States, Rand deeply admired a convicted murderer. As a recent immigrant from Russia living in Chicago, the young Ayn Rand swooned over William Hickman, a man who strangled his own wife, and refused to show remorse. Rand spoke of this man, who was eventually executed, with glowing admiration for his refusal to conform to society’s wishes.

This beloved ideologue of American capitalism preaches the very mindset found in mass murderers, be they “lone wolves” or “angry white men.” Like Eric Harris who gunned down innocent students wearing his “natural selection” t-shirt, she portrays the poor and oppressed as worthy of their suffering, while presenting those who victimize them as heroes, asserting their inherent superiority.

Dangerous Ideology

Ayn Rand is not a marginal figure in American discourse. Rand was the personal mentor of Alan Greenspan, who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve for decades, and headed of the Council on Foreign Relations. Republican Party leader Paul Ryan considers Ayn Rand to be his greatest influence.

All across America, young people are being encouraged to read the writings of someone who was essentially preaching and promoting the ideology of serial killers. Some of the most powerful politicians in the USA consider her a source of inspiration. No tyrants or dictators of the past, no matter how tyrannical and evil, distributed literature extolling the “virtue of selfishessness” and promoting the mentality of serial killers. The ideology and corresponding insanity currently gripping the United States is certainly unique.

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Mass Shootings, Mass Psychology And Self-Defense


by Brandon Smith, Alt Market:

There is an unfortunate correlation between crises and catastrophes and mass psychology. For those with a decent long-term memory, you may have noticed that the frequency of attacks and tragedies taking place today around the world is far above and beyond what occurred 10 years ago. So much so that many in the public have moved beyond the point of outrage and have now embraced complacency.

The mass shooting issue, for example, once inspired fevered debate over gun rights. Not so much anymore. While I am happy that the relentless attempts by leftists to exploit every shooting as a tool for their gun grabbing agenda have taken a backseat, I see a trend in another direction which is equally dangerous. That trend is a move towards acceptance that “these things happen,” instead of a healthy discussion on real solutions (and no, more gun control is not one of them).

A decade ago the Vegas shooting would have inspired media and social discussion for at least a year. Now, the story disappears in two weeks and is replaced with 10 others. I will be surprised if the latest church shooting in Texas in which 26 people were killed stays on the news feeds for more than a few days.

Where does this complacency come from?

It is a complex problem, but one that I think relates to the state of decline within any particular society. In Carl Jung’s The Undiscovered Self, Jung mentions a consistent element of latent sociopathy and psychopathy within most cultures. Perhaps 10{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of people within a society are latent sociopaths and psychopaths, and around 1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} or less represent full blown sociopaths/psychopaths. Most of the latent people will never become truly dangerous if they are living within a culture that is healthy and morally balanced. In fact, those with inherent sociopathic traits can become very high functioning human beings who are adept at careers that many other people avoid (surgeons and career soldiers are two examples).

However, in the event that there is cultural rot and a degradation of principles, environmental influences come into play and latent sociopaths/psychopaths have the potential to mutate into something far more dangerous. Jung examines this dynamic as an explanation for the sudden and accelerated decline of Germany in the 1920s and 1930s into totalitarianism and moral relativism. When the mentally disturbed 1{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} turns into 10{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} or more, entire nations can be dragged along into the abyss.

As a litmus test I find it valuable to look at popular culture when trying to determine if a society is on the brink of collapse into a singularity of moral relativism, because popular culture often reflects these elements more honestly than the supposed “experts” will. When examining Germany before its fall, I recommend studying the films of Fritz Lang; particularly his movie ‘M’ released in 1931, which depicts a serial killer with a penchant for children being put on trial by a group of underworld criminals, not because they abhor what he does on moral grounds, but because his activities are drawing too much unwanted attention from authorities on their own criminal enterprises. If the dark world of ‘M’ doesn’t perfectly showcase the decline of Germany, I don’t know what does.

Today, we are constantly surrounded by popular culture which leans towards the morally relative; stories in which the heroes must become monsters in order to defeat other supposedly worse monsters. At another level, our popular culture tells us that it is only the fantastical, the super powered and the government contracted heroes that have the ability to affect change and disrupt disaster.  Underlying all of this seems to be a narrative of defeat; the notion that there is nothing the average person can do.  And, of course, we are also bombarded with stories in which gluttony and decadence are applauded while anyone that takes a more responsible path is portrayed as unhappy or joyless in the long run.

Translate this to the developing trend of mass shootings around the world and the public reaction to them. On one end of the spectrum, in the past it was the sociopathic left that saw mass death as an opportunity to enforce political control over gun rights advocates, with the goal of eventually achieving total disarmament. These people do not care about the dead, let alone logic, they only care about furthering their agenda.  They see government power as the answer to every problem.

If you were to hold up examples like the Paris or Mumbai attacks to gun grabbers and point out that disarmament only makes mass shootings EASIER for criminals and terrorists, they would not listen. Obviously, if any of the citizens including the off-duty police officers had been armed in Paris, the attack might have been stopped much sooner.

In the case of the church shooting near San Antonio, that attack WAS interrupted by an armed neighbor of the church who used his rifle to fend off Devin Kelley, forcing him to escape in his vehicle. Had that neighbor not been armed, the massacre might have gone on much longer. Had one of the people within the church been armed, the attack might have ended in seconds, as we saw in Denver in 2007.

Now, as I said earlier, there are sociopathic members of the political left that seek to take advantage of these scenarios, but these people have fallen by the wayside recently. On the political right, sadly, I have seen another brand of sociopathy rising, with some arguing that all the people within the San Antonio church that were unarmed “deserved to die.” This is just as dangerous a mentality as the exploitations of the left. If the liberty movement itself sets aside empathy and resorts to sensationalist or morally relative methods to drive forward a political agenda, then we are only hastening the fall of our culture, not protecting it. And, we become no better that the leftist disarmament thugs we abhor.

In between these two extremes sits a coagulated mass of people who simply don’t care much as long as a particular disaster doesn’t involve them. These are the folks who are uninterested in solutions and don’t really want to hear anything about it. It is these people who tend to become wreckage floating on the tides of history; their lack of concern eventually comes back to haunt them in the future.

So, if these are the wrong ways to approach the mass shooting problem, then what are the right ways?

I think it is vital that Americans in particular maintain our care and concern for the victims of these events. The solution to mass shootings is clearly a responsibly armed populace.  According to all the stats on active shooters, defense by citizens is the only factor that seems to make much difference. But to convince more and more people of this requires a level of conscience and empathy that inspires confidence, and perhaps brotherhood. When people know that you give a damn and aren;t simply pursuing an agenda like the political left does, it is more likely that they will listen to what you have to say.

As I noted in my article How To Stop All Future Mass Shootings, the Vegas attack was organized by someone who was smart enough to avoid a point-blank engagement in a city and state in which concealed-carry firearms are more common. Point-blank attacks are by far the most common because they are generally attempted by people who have minimal training or because the attackers are relatively certain that their victims will be disarmed in the area they have chosen (gun free zones).

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