Buffalo Killer has ripped off past manifestos and mainstream GOP talking points

The online manifesto of the suspected Buffalo gunman is largely a plagiarism of other documents of similar killings. But the document isn’t meant to be novel — it’s a roadmap to violence tailored to a growing group of racists who already share its core ideas.

Payton Gendron, 18, is accused of opening fire on shoppers and security guards at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, killing ten people and wounding three others. His attack followed a now-recognizable form modeled in previous gunfights. Like other recent racist killers in New Zealand, Germany, California and Texas, he uploaded a manifesto to the internet before the massacre. Like most of these killers, Gendron live-streamed the attack. The result is a pattern of almost interchangeable violence, devastating communities of color, while an increasingly hardened conservative movement promotes thinly disguised versions of the killers’ ideologies.

Gendron’s manifesto is not worth reading. His mission statement of murdering black people is undisguised. It contains no revelations about the already well-documented landscape of white racial violence in America.

It is remarkable only for its familiarity. Much of the document is copied from previous killers, whom he described in idolatrous terms in chat logs. Other points are shockingly similar to those that appear in GOP stump speeches or on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show The New York Times previously noted.

Research by the human rights organization Khalifa Ihler Institute found that around 28 percent of the document was plagiarized. Much of the unplagiarized material came from sections where Gendron described how he would carry out his attack. About 57 percent of the document was torn out in sections describing his motivations.

Gendron’s manifesto relied heavily on a document from a mass gunman who killed 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in 2019. This massacre, which the killer streamed live, has become a template for similar killings, including in El Paso, Texas and Poway, California.

White racist killers often place their manifestos in conversation with each other, Bjørn Ihler, a co-founder of Khalifa Ihler, told The Daily Beast.

“It is clear from this and other terrorist manifestos that both terrorists build on each other’s ideological narratives and strategies,” Ihler said. “They also largely refer directly to one another, not only through direct plagiarism of texts, but also often by naming previous terrorists in those texts and other symbolic and textual elements. At least that goes back to the manifesto of [Norwegian mass-murderer Anders] Breivik, which in turn was largely plagiarized from other online sources in the white racist and anti-Islamic environment.”

Plagiarism goes unnoticed in the white supremacist world, in part because racist killers have nothing new to say.

Their talking points — false racist pseudoscience, scaremongering about the white birth rate, conspiracy theories about the left — have been washed through far-right and increasingly conservative mainstream media for decades. They’re part of an insurgent Fox News narrative about America’s white “replacement” demographic and centuries-old eugenic panic over immigration and multiracial children.

But the Buffalo shooting comes at a new moment of normalized violence on the right. It’s the first in the genre of live-streamed shootings since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a deadly event that Republican officials and speakers have tried to downplay. Far-right figures like Carlson and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have even credited some of the Capitol attackers or described them as unjustly persecuted, while far-right groups involved in the Capitol attack have regrouped for new campaigns.

Some Republican voices have already signaled a similar willingness to minimize the Buffalo onslaught. “Fed Boy summer has begun in Buffalo,” Arizona Rep. Wendy Rogers posted just hours after the attack, echoing a far-right conspiracy theory about the massacre being orchestrated by federal law enforcement. (Rogers, who is associated with both the Oath Keepers paramilitary group and the fascist “Groyper” youth movement, has personally promoted some of the same “surrogate” conspiracy theories that Gendron shared in his manifesto.)

Some experts say the mainstream GOP’s indulgence in extremist views could portend a looming new wave of far-right violence.

A new report this month from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) underscores that the far right may be in a moment of regrouping, although overt attacks have waned in 2021.

“ACLED data shows that political violence in the United States, and particularly violence involving far-right militias and militant social movements, typically manifests itself in peaks and troughs,” the report warns. “Against this backdrop, the recent drop in overall events should not be taken as a sign that the threat of violence has diminished. On the contrary, current trends suggest this may just represent a relative calm before the next storm.”

Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation at ACLED, told The Daily Beast that the far right is currently experiencing a surge in mobilization on the ground and that the white supremacist stance is the movement’s biggest rallying point.

“These terrorists both build on each other’s ideological narratives and strategies.”

“The report notes how white nationalism, white supremacy, has become an increasingly prominent driver when it comes to protest activity involving far-right militias and far-right militant social movements. And indeed we saw at the end of last year that this was the main reason for the protest activities of these types of groups.”

In this context, she said, attackers like Gendron should not be viewed as “lone wolves” but as actors “connected to this broader movement”.

“They all consume similar propaganda,” she said. “They are in the same circles.” Buffalo Killer has ripped off past manifestos and mainstream GOP talking points


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