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July 24, 2015

Lafayette Shooting Suspect Fixated on Perceived Moral Decay

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John Russell Hauser (Louisiana State Police)

A preliminary examination of the on-line writings of John Russell Houser, who killed himself last night after a vicious shooting spree at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, that left two dead and nine others injured, reveals a twisted, angry man upset at a perceived moral decay that he thought was destroying the United States.

Houser, originally from Georgia but who had lived in various places across the South prior to the shooting, spent much of his free time in recent years making short, angry posts to on-line discussion forums and comment sections on various websites, often using the screen name “Rusty Houser.” In many of these posts, Houser discussed his belief that the United States was “about to fall.”

His discontent with the United States led him to make extreme anti-American statements, such as describing the United States as “the enemy of the world.” When, in the winter of 2015, some 200 cars piled up in a multi-vehicle snowstorm accident, Houser claimed that “the lack of moral Americans standing for anything makes me wish it were 200 747’s.”

In another posting, he wrote that he was “with all those who hate the filth farm known as the U.S.” In 2014, Houser claimed that “all countries that hate the U.S.” needed to unite.

As some of these statements indicate, Houser was obsessed with the notion of moral decay in the United States; this obsession fueled much of his anger.

Anti-black racism played an important role in Houser’s vision of decay and doom. He repeatedly argued that blacks should be deported because they, as he said in one 2013 posting, “WILL NOT WORK and have NO FAMILY VALUES.” This was language Houser used again and again, sometimes referring to blacks explicitly, at other times describing them in other ways, such as “another race, not Latinos.”

In 2014, Houser claimed that “failing to mention the role of Blacks in building and maintaining the alliance of evil that literally grips the globe” would slow the re-taking of America. “Elsewhere, this particular role is the Jew. Here in the U.S., it is the Black.” In another 2014 posting, Houser elaborated on the morality-hating people who allegedly controlled America, an alliance consisting of 1) upper class whites; 2) Blacks; and 3) “misfits,” which Houser listed as “homos, transvestites, people who will not work, people with no culture, etc.”

Other sources of decay for Houser included atheists, liberals, and gays—in the latter instance, Houser even supported the rabidly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church.

In contrast, Houser admired other ethnic or religious groups, such as Latinos or Muslims. This was because he viewed such groups as either hard working or with strong moral values, or both. “I will never understand,” he posted in 2013,” why the hard working, morally superior Latinos never bring up for discussion the other race which is known to be completely the opposite for the most part.”

Referring to Muslim immigrants, for example, he said, “those coming in are far more decent morally than the average American.” Iranians, he wrote in late 2013, were “far higher morally than this financially failing filth farm.”

Faced with this fantasy scenario of doom and decay, Hauser seemed to have hoped for a man on horseback who would sweep away all the perceived moral filth—a Travis Bickle writ large. “The one bright spot,” he wrote on one forum in 2013, “is that all matters in need of tidying up will be dealt with in summary fashion soon.”

One of his models for such a leader was Adolf Hitler, whom he repeatedly praised. In 2013, he wrote that “Hitler’s reaction to much would be invaluable now, if 98% weren’t brainwashed in the U.S.” In early 2015, he claimed that Hitler “accomplished far more” than any other leaders. Around the same time, he claimed that “decent people can retake the entire world, as Hitler proved.”

In a different 2015 posting, Houser wrote that “Hitler is loved for the results of his pragmatism” and that “the U.S. is no more than a financially failing filth farm. Soon the phrase ‘ruling with an iron hand’ will be palatable anew.”

In 2013, Houser had similar views on American white supremacist figure David Duke, writing that “at one time [Duke] appeared exactly what the U.S. needed.”

Houser also admired the Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi political party, describing them in 2014 as “composed of moral people.” Elsewhere, he described their ideas as “a legitimate effort to solve problems” and their leaders as “intelligent, well spoken, and exercising good faith.”

Houser had similarly admiring views of a variety of other extremist groups and movements, including radical Islamists. “Yes, I am saluting the fundamentalist Muslims,” he said in January 2015, “They have stood against evil.” He added, in a follow-up post, “They have my complete Christian respect.”

These attitudes and opinions, which reveal themselves so strikingly in Houser’s writings, raise the unsettling but real possibility that he deliberately chose a showing of the movie Trainwreck at which to launch a Taxi Driver-like spree of violence. The writer and star of the movie, talented young comedian Amy Schumer, has received considerable media attention thanks to the movie and her popular television show, and, given her chosen comedic persona of a sexually free-wheeling woman, as well as her liberal opinions, one could imagine how a disturbed mind like Houser’s could come to focus on the movie as a symbol for all of his dark fantasies about moral decay in America.

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June 19, 2015

Murders in Charleston Again Demonstrate the Tragic Impact of Hate Violence

The horrible murders of nine parishioners during a June 17 evening prayer meeting at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina seem like a nightmare.  But they were real – horrific and senseless.  And they were hate crimes.  The nature of the shootings, the specific location, the targeted victims, statements allegedly made by the suspect, and a Facebook profile of the suspect wearing white supremacist symbols all indicate this tragedy was motivated by racial bias.

It is noteworthy that these race-based murders happened in one of only five states that has yet to enact a hate crimes law.  The time has come for that to change.

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

Obviously, convicted murderers already face the most severe penalties under the law in every state.    But hate crimes laws have a significance that extends beyond the tougher sentences they permit.  They are a strong societal response to crimes specifically intended to intimidate the victim and members of the victim’s community.  By making members of minority communities fearful, angry, and suspicious of other groups – and of the power structure that is supposed to protect them – these message crimes can damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities.

The FBI and law enforcement officials recognize the special impact of hate crimes.  The FBI has been collecting hate crime data from the 18,000 police agencies across the country since 1990.   In 2013, the most recent FBI data available, almost 6,000 hate crimes were reported by over 15,000 police departments – almost one every 90 minutes of every day.  Race-based hate crimes were most frequent, crimes committed against gay men and lesbians second, and religion-based crimes were third most frequent, with anti-Jewish crimes a disturbing 61% of all reported religion-based crimes.

Federal and state hate crime laws are an important demonstration that our society recognizes the unique impact of hate violence.  45 states and the District of Columbia now have enacted hate crime laws, many based on the ADL Model Law drafted in 1981.  The only five states without a penalty-enhancing hate crime law are Arkansas, Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming – and South Carolina.

Attorney General Lynch has announced that the Department of Justice has opened its own hate crime investigation of this terrible crime – under federal criminal civil rights laws, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  That essential federal statute is an important bulwark, but it is not a substitute for state hate crimes laws.   South Carolina is in mourning now, as we all are.  One of the most constructive ways for the state to move forward would be to join 45 other states who already have hate crimes laws.

We need to be realistic.  We cannot legislate, regulate, or tabulate an end to racism, anti-Semitism, or bigotry.  Complementing federal and state hate crime laws and prevention initiatives, governments must promote early learning and continuing education against bias and discrimination in schools and the community.   Strong, inclusive laws, and effective responses to hate violence by public officials and law enforcement authorities, however, are essential components in deterring and preventing these crimes.  

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April 9, 2015

North Charleston Shooting Provokes Virulently Racist Reactions

This article includes explicit and offensive material. It highlights part of ADL’s ongoing efforts to track and expose the ugly reactions and responses of white supremacists and extremists to the high-profile police shooting incidents across the United States in 2014-15.

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Comment from Stormfront

Michael Slager, a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer, has been charged with murder after a witness turned in cellphone video of the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott. The video showed Slager, a white officer, shooting Scott, an African-American, multiple times in the back as Scott apparently fled from a traffic stop situation.

The graphic footage evoked strong public reactions at a time when police shootings of unarmed African-Americans have been brought into the national spotlight. Police Chief Eddie Driggers spoke for many viewers when he said, “I was sickened by what I saw.”

Not everybody had that reaction.

Among racists and white supremacists, the video provoked an entirely different set of conversations, dominated by virulently racist responses. “This cop should be applauded for taking a future rapist, thief, drug dealer, nigger off the street,” posted American_Fascist to the discussion site reddit. “I like this cop’s style,” wrote Pungspark on the white supremacist Daily Stormer site. “Too bad [he] didn’t make sure there were no witnesses.”

Some white supremacists agreed, even if reluctantly, that the officer might have committed murder. “It appears that the pig did unjustly kill the jig,” allowed Joe from OH on the white supremacist Vanguard News Network (VNN) forum.

Others defended the officer’s actions, claiming that Scott had taken Slager’s Taser. “If a perp gets your taser, you can shoot the nigger,” wrote an anonymous poster to the discussion site Zero Censorship. Some claimed anybody who ran away from police was guilty. “Again we have a black guy running from the police which in my opinion is the action of guilt,” stated Scorpion4444 on the white supremacist forum Stormfront. On the same site, Tenniel wrote, “It used to be that if a suspect ran from the cop, he was confirming his guilt…If white men still had power, that’s the way it would be.”

However, many posts openly applauded the shooting. “Personally, I don’t care how unjustified the ‘murder’ was,” wrote Hellen on VNN. “It’s a jig, it would have gone to rape and kill numerous people, that’s what they do. That officer prevented many future crimes.”

310tournad posted to Stormfront that “after bearing witness to the never ending stream…of blacks raping, robbing, murdering, rioting, and preying on…innocent whites, I couldn’t care less about this negro.” Poster dkr77 wrote on the same site, “I say good riddance. Just think of the money that cop saved the tax payer.” Honor Sword wrote, “One less negro running the streets.”

Some responses actually attacked the officer. “Typical leftist union thug behavior” was how one anonymous Zero Censorship poster referred to Slager’s actions. Joe from OH had a similar reaction, using an epithet white supremacists reserve for police officers: “Another gutless blue nigger. Murderous public union thug.” Angl0sax0nknight wrote on Stormfront that “I don’t care what took place before…the cowardly pig shoots him in the back. Remember more whites are killed by cops [than] blacks…This pig should fry!”

Many posters anticipated demonstrations and protests in response to the shootings, some attributing them to Jewish control of the media, as did beast9 on Stormfront: “And yet the hooked nose kikes always leave out the race of the blacks killing and raping people. The media jews want a race war.”

Common were responses that included the currently popular racist memes “chimpout” and “dindu nuffins.” “Chimpout” is a racist term to describe protests from the African-American community in response to recent police shootings. “Whether or not they have a cat[egory] 3 chimpout in North Charleston,” wrote poster MLK_gibsmedatdream to reddit, “the media is going to be replaying this for many months.”

“Dindu nuffins” is a term that originated in 2014 in response the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It began as a hate-filled mockery of relatives of shooting victims who claimed that the victims had done no wrong (as in “he didn’t do anything”), then evolved into a racial epithet for African-Americans, sometimes shortened further to “dindus.” Stormfronter WhiteWarrior79 lambasted Chief Driggers, “who almost cried when talking about the poor dindu nuffin negro,” while fellow Stormfronter SPYDERx13 asked, “When do the Din-do’s start rioting, ummm, protesting?”

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