At UNC Charlotte in North Carolina on Tuesday, April 30, a 22-year-old man allegedly shot six people in his anthropology class with a handgun, wounding four and killing two. Three days earlier, on the last day of Passover, in Poway, California, a 19-year-old man walked into a synagogue with what police described as an “AR-type assault weapon” and now stands accused of killing a 60-year-old woman and injuring another congregant, the rabbi, and an 8-year-old girl.
The motive of the suspect in the UNC Charlotte murders is not publicly known. The New York Times wrote that the local chief of police had refused to discuss the topic with its reporters, but that he had indicated the accused killer’s choice of target was not random.
The motive of the suspect in Poway is clear, not least from the manifesto he left online before the shooting—which circulated in paraphrase and quotation by the press, and in full on social media and on the growing number of white nationalist outlets, which are especially prominent on YouTube. He wanted to be associated with other racist murderers: the Christchurch mosque killer, the Tree of Life synagogue killer, and, of course, Hitler. He distributed his manifesto on internet troll hive 8chan; and he planned to livestream the murders on Facebook, though he failed.
There remains significant disagreement among journalists who cover the far right over how to portray killers seeking notoriety, and the organizations that inspire and abet them, sometimes with journalistic pretensions. In CJR, Tow
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