According to the Tallahassee Democrat, local law enforcement still have found no link between the shooter and the ROF.
On Thursday, according to the Associated Press, the leader of a white nationalist group confirmed that the suspect in the Parkland, Florida school shooting was a member of his organization. A spokesperson for the Republic of Florida (ROF) told the Anti-Defamation League that the shooter had “participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other ROF members from south Florida.” The group says it wants a “white ethnostate” in Florida.
That isn’t a surprise: The Daily Beast reported that a classmate said the shooter “had his hair short and had a penchant for wearing patriotic shirts that ‘seemed really extreme, like hating on’ Islam…The suspected gunman would also deride Muslims as ‘terrorists and bombers…I’ve seen him wear a Trump hat.” The shooter also posted a comment on YouTube, “Im going to watch them sheep fall f*** antifa i wish to kill as many as i can.”
This would make the shooter yet another in a long chain of white supremacist terrorists and murderers plaguing the country. In December, a 21-year-old gas station attendant, disguised as a student, went to Aztec High School and murdered two students. That shooter hung out on 4chan and posted comments at the Nazi Daily Stormer.
2017, according to The Atlantic, saw a serious upsurge in white supremacist violence, with 18 deaths on their hands, including a double-murder in Reston, Virginia and the murder of an anti-racism activist in Charlottesville. That doesn’t include incidents like a 26-year-old Missouri man who attempted to stop an Amtrak train by breaching a security area.
What’s driving this upsurge in violence? First off, the rise of internet message boards that connect pathetic individuals with racist ideologies has made it easier for young men to see themselves as sympathetic heroes rather than evil bigots. Most people on 4chan aren’t white supremacist, of course, but it’s not hard to find white supremacists on 4chan to provide a kind ear.
Second, the tenor of our politics has become increasingly hostile. That means that there are Sanders-supporting extremists who will shoot up Congressional softball games, and there are apparently Trump-supporting extremists who will shoot up high schools. The perception of our neighbors as our enemies, particularly thanks to polarized media coverage, isn’t helping things.
Third, intersectional politics of race has skyrocketed on all sides over the past several years, driving sad-sack young white men to justify bigotry by claiming “white solidarity.”
Something is deeply sick in our society right now. That sickness can only be healed when we stop seeing each other as the enemy. But that sickness seems unlikely to heal in the current environment, where everyone who disagrees is supposedly a dire threat to your way of life — and where the sickest members of our society imbibe that poison, and spew out death.