23 May 2017
The Tampa Case
If they don't make a movie about the recent events in Tampa I'll be very surprised. If you haven't heard about it yet, once upon a time there were four buddies who shared an apartment down there and were white nationalists. A few days ago one of them stormed into a local smoke shop brandishing a gun and threatening patrons. After surrendering to police, he told them that he'd killed two of his roommates. The fourth roommate was arrested later while transporting bomb-making materials he had kept in the apartment. The existence of an "Atomwaffen" cell is a story in its own right, of course, but Roommate No. 3, the shooter, has gotten more attention, not just because he killed people but because of his improbable conversion to Islam. Jumping from white nationalism to Islam is quite a leap, as Islam, like Judaism, is semitic in origin, and is understood to preach racial equality. It's less of a leap, of course, if your only motive for joining either motive is piss off people you know, or society in general, by joining the most transgressive, offensive movement they can imagine. Local news reports give the impression that the shooter converted as he was falling out, or washing out, with others in the Atomwaffen. In that case, converting to Islam may simply have been a gesture calculated to piss off white nationalists. On one hand, I wonder about the sincerity of his conversion. That his roommates, still white nationalists, disrespected the shooter's new faith may seem superficially plausible as a provocation, but that and the spectacle he made of himself at that store may simply cover up issues having more to do with the bomb materials than with anyone's religion. On the other hand, I wonder whether the shooter is like a canary in a mineshaft indicating a change in fetishes among angry, alienated youth. If white nationalism is often simply a big F.U. to modern society, radical Islam is arguably more so, and possibly more appealing to misfits like the Tampa killer because of its greater success at acts of violence like yesterday's suicide attack at a Manchester pop concert. If you want to see the world burn, are you really going to put your faith in Hitler or Aryanism in the year 2017? I suppose you might if you still depend on your "whiteness" to give your life meaning, but if the shooter had already become an odd man out before converting, does that mean that the more completely isolated you become, the more alluring an Islamic vision of destructive power becomes? Time may tell, especially if people who've placed their faith in President Trump as a savior for white people see his promises unfulfilled. It wouldn't be much different from kids becoming radical Marxists, or pretending to, back in the 1960s, except that it seems easier for anyone to fulfill their dreams of terror today. Since no one is going to make any of these ideas go away, somebody somewhere has to start offering a more compelling vision of the future before those with no vision decide simply to do as they will.