On May 14th, Payton Gendron used an assault weapon to kill 10 Black men and women in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. He has been arrested and charged with murder, including charges of violating "hate crime" laws. He has pled not guilty. He has published on the internet a 180-page manifesto justifying his mass shooting.
Gendron is 18 years old. He will turn 19 on June 20. He has lived his whole life in the Southern Tier of New York State, with both of his parents and two brothers. It seems to be a stable, middle-class family. His parents are engineers. He graduated near the top of his class in high school. He is enrolled in college with a major in Engineering Science. He has no history of mental disability. The writing of his manifesto shows remarkable intelligence.
To explain how he became radicalized, Gendron says that in the summer of 2020, he became bored with being confined to his home by the pandemic. He started surfing the internet, and he became fascinated with Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian who murdered 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 14, 2019. His reading of Tarrant's manifesto started him on his research into problems with nonwhite immigrants in White countries.
I was interested in Gendron's manifesto because much of his argument is based on extensive research into the biological science of race and human biodiversity. Some people have said that this shows how dangerous biological studies of race can be because they can promote murderous racism. One of the scientists whose work Gendron cites--Michael Woodley--has come under fire with some people arguing that he should be fired from his academic position in Belgium.
Woodley is only one of dozens of scientists cited by Gendron, which includes J. Philippe Rushton and the science journalist Nicholas Wade. I have written a series of posts on Wade. In February, I wrote a post on Rushton, E. O. Wilson, and the biological study of race. At the end of that post, there are links to a series of 10 posts in which I argue that the biological reality of race and racial differences is compatible with the Lockean liberal principle of human equality of rights. I also argue against the ethnic nationalism of people like Frank Salter, who roots his reasoning in evolutionary psychology. All of my reasoning in those posts would apply to Gendron's manifesto. All of this is in support of my Darwinian Lockean Liberalism.
Here is Gendron's explanation for why he carried out the shooting in Buffalo:
Why did you decide to carry out the attack?
To show to the replacers that as long as the White man lives, our land will never be theirs and they will never be safe from us.
To directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the replacers themselves.
To intimidate the replacers already living on our lands to emigrate back to their home countries.
To agitate the political enemies of my people into action, to cause them to overextend their own hand and experience the eventual and inevitable backlash as a result.
To incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the replacers currently occupying European soil.
To show the effect of direct action, lighting a path forward for those that wish to follow. A path for those that wish to free their ancestors lands from the replacers grasp and to be a beacon for those that wish to create a lasting culture, to tell them they are not alone.
To create an atmosphere of fear and change in which drastic, powerful and revolutionary action can occur.
To add momentum to the pendulum swings of history, further destabilizing and polarizing Western society in order to eventually destroy the current nihilistic, hedonistic, individualistic insanity that has taken control of Western thought.
Most of all it was to spread awareness to my fellow Whites about the real problems the West is facing, and to encourage further attacks that will eventually start the war that will save the Western world, save the White race and allow for humanity to progress into more advanced civilizations (4).
Gendron's justification for doing this is based on five main ideas in his manifesto: white supremacy, ethnic nationalism, replacement theory, anti-semitism, and inegalitarianism. I will be citing the page numbers of the pdf file.
White supremacy. Gendron identifies himself as a white supremacist, because he believes that "the White race is superior in the brain to all other races," and because of this intellectual superiority, the White race is responsible for the success of modern Western European culture (7). He defines the "White race" as those who are both ethnically (genetically) and culturally European (9, 54, 175).
As proof that the Whites are "superior in the brain," he cites the studies of IQ distributions for Black and White populations that show two overlapping bell curves, with the average for Whites being about one standard deviation (or about 15 IQ points) higher than the average for Blacks. He presents scientific research suggesting that this is a genetic difference between the White and Black races as subspecies of the same human species (14-18). He concedes that since the races can interbreed, the races are mixed, and so the boundaries between the races are somewhat fuzzy. But still he can identify the Black race as including all of those who are descendants of Sub-Saharan Africans. Most African-Americans fit in this category, although he would exclude those that are 87.5% or higher of another race.
The average superiority of the White race includes not just IQ but other kinds of human biodiversity--much of which might be based on IQ differences. As compared with Whites, Blacks are on average more aggressive, more violent, more likely to commit crimes, more narcissistic, more likely to be imprisoned, and more likely to cheat on their spouses (17-21). For all of this, he cites the scientific research in behavioral genetics.
There are many problems with Gendron's arguments for White supremacy. I will point to two. First, those famous overlapping bell curves in the distribution of Black and White IQ distributions (14) are significant in their being overlapping bell curves, which means that while there is an average difference between the races as groups, it is not true that every White individual has a higher IQ than every Black individual. Many Black individuals are superior in IQ to many White individuals.
To assert White supremacy, Gendron must assume that we will always identify people as group members not as individuals. He never justifies this, except to denigrate "individualism" as morally corrupt. But what's morally corrupt about saying that fairness demands that we should treat people as what they are as individuals rather than as members of some group? Would Gendron say that we must treat low-IQ Whites as if they were high-IQ because they belong to a race that on average has a higher IQ than other races?
The second problem is that the scientific studies of racial differences in average IQ do not claim that the White race is superior on average to all other races. The East Asians (Japanese, Korean, and Eastern Chinese) are superior on average to Whites. So why doesn't Gendron promote East Asian supremacy?
In fact, he has one short section of his manifesto on the superiority of East Asians (53). He writes: "I think that East Asians are quite admirable. The average East Asian tends to perform better in academics than the average White, which of course leads to more skilled and higher-paying jobs. This is all due to superior traditional values and genetics. However, they do not belong in White civilizations. To preserve our cultures and people we must be physically separated." This contradicts his claim that "the White race is superior in the brain to all other races" (7).
Ethnic nationalism. To escape this self-contradiction, Gendron could say that he's not defending the superiority of the White race to all other races, but that he's defending ethnic nationalism. He does in fact identify himself as an ethnic nationalist (4, 6-7, 10, 55, 166, 169). And even though I haven't noticed any reference to Frank Salter in his manifesto, Gendron often suggests that he proposing something like Salter's ethnic nationalism, which would say that all human beings have a natural desire for ethnic identity that cannot be satisfied in a multiethnic society, and every healthy society must satisfy that desire for homogeneous ethnic identity. So even though the East Asians are naturally superior to the Whites, it's best that they be physically separated in different countries. This is what Salter calls "universal nationalism": every ethnic group has an equal right to live in its own homeland and exclude all other ethnic groups from that homeland. I have written some posts (here and here) against Salter's reasoning. I agree that there is a natural evolved instinct for tribalism--for distinguishing in-groups and out-groups--but I don't see any evidence that this must be expressed as a natural desire for ethnic identity in an ethnically homogeneous society.
Salter identifies various “ethnic states” in the modern world, but he admits that “no state yet developed has reliably kept its promise as an adaptive ethnic group strategy," which includes “the best known modern ethnic state”—Nazi Germany. The reason for this, I would say, is that human beings do not have a natural desire for an "adaptive ethnic group strategy," and they are happy to live in multiethnic liberal societies.
Replacement theory. Gendron's answer to me is that no, human beings are not happy in multiethnic societies, because they really do want to live in an ethnically homogeneous society that conforms to their ethnic identity. That's what Gendron himself wants. He's White, so he wants to live in a predominately White society. His desire has been frustrated only because of the "Great Replacement" conspiracy. Some global elites--mostly Jews--have promoted free immigration so that nonwhites can replace the White race in Europe and North America. This replacement is a form of genocide because it is aimed as extinguishing the White race.
The ultimate problem here, according to Gendron, is the low fertility rates for White Europeans as compared with the high fertility rates for nonwhite immigrants. In the long run, the White race will go extinct if fertility rates remain below "replacement" rates. Remarkably, Gendron admits that he sees no way to raise those White fertility rates. But, in the short run, he wants to kill or deport the "replacers"--the nonwhite immigrants with high fertility rates. Like Salter, Gendron seems to admit that no state has succeeded in an "adaptive ethnic group strategy."
Antisemitism. Apparently, that failure of ethnic nationalism has come from the influence of the Jewish elites who have promoted the liberal globalism that subverts nationalism. A good part of Gendron's manifesto is devoted to his hatred for Jews as the advocates of liberalism and libertarianism (34).
This is remarkable because Gendron admits that Jews are "ethnically White" and "racially White" (26). So why doesn't White supremacy include the Jews? The problem with the Jews, according to Gendron, is not their ethnic or racial identity but their religion (26-30). Their Jewish religious heritage separates them from the Christian culture of the White Europeans. At this point, one might expect Gendron to identify himself as a Christiani white supremacist. But he cannot do that because he says that he is not a Christian: "No. I do not ask God for salvation by faith, nor do I confess my sins to Him. I personally believe there is no afterlife. I do however believe in and practice Christian values" (7). So is he saying that White identity does not require Christianity, but it does require "Christian values"?
There is another problem with Gendron's anti-semitism. Many of the scientific studies of the biology of IQ that Gendron cites indicate that the Jews--and particularly Ashkenazi Jews--have the highest average IQ of any racial or ethnic group tested: with average IQ of around 115. Gendron has one short section of his manifesto that denies this (36). But the skimpy evidence he presents is not clear.
Inegalitarianism. Perhaps the most fundamental assumption in Gendron's manifesto is that human beings cannot have equal rights if they are not biologically identical (158, 165). "No two different things can ever truly be equal, especially humans. There is no one person equal to any other, not identical twins, not countrymen, not workers within a class group and certainly not those of differing races." "Diversity is anathema to equality. One cannot exist with the other."
This ignores the fact that no liberal theorist of human equality of rights has ever asserted that this means that all human beings are the same. Natural differences in the average propensities and traits of the human races is compatible with the Lockean liberal principle of equal liberty. Lockean equality means not that all people are identical--in intelligence or in many other respects--but that all people are similar in resisting exploitation by others, so that no human being is good enough to govern any other human being without that person's consent. Equal liberty requires not equality of outcome, but equality of opportunity in the pursuit of happiness. In a society of equal liberty, those individuals who are naturally more intelligent or talented than others will reap the benefits of those superior traits, but those superior individuals will have no right to exploit those of lesser abilities. In such a society, everyone can find valued places for themselves.