Steve M has an essential post up about the murders in Virginia:
But we can see from this manifesto that Flanagan has been thinking about mass shootings for a while, that he was psychologically unhealthy by his own admission, and that he felt personally discriminated against as a gay man, not just as a black man.
Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'”
… He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work
He says he has been attacked by black men and white females
He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man…
“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”
This tragedy like many others did not come out of nowhere. There were far too many warning signs that were unheeded. While it is true that Flanagan’s motives for the killing were his own, there is a broader cultural context at work, one that celebrates personal matyrdom, the emphasis on self-reliance over seeking out help from others. The term “lone-wolf” which gets bandied about a lot after shootings just feeds into that toxic narrative. Without a sense of obligation to others and need for others, deep frustration and anger flourish.
Peace is not possible unless we want it for others as much as for ourselves.