The Other McCain

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Crazy People Are Dangerous: Are ‘Incels’ Now a ‘Domestic Terrorism Threat’?

Posted on | February 6, 2020 | Comments Off on Crazy People Are Dangerous: Are ‘Incels’ Now a ‘Domestic Terrorism Threat’?


Most people have never heard of Brian Clyde because, unlike some other crazy people, when the 22-year-old Texas resident decided to go on a mass-murder rampage, his “body count” didn’t include any innocent victims. Wearing tactical gear and wielding a rifle, Clyde opened fire on the federal courthouse in Dallas last June and was promptly killed by return fire from law-enforcement authorities. At the time, some media attention was paid to Clyde’s “bizarre posts on a Facebook page” in which he warned that “the f—ing storm is coming,” but because his rampage didn’t produce a high “body count,” the story disappeared. I never even heard of this guy until this morning when I saw it in a footnote on Page 47 of a recent report on domestic terrorism by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS). Page 3 of that report:

Although not a new movement, Involuntary Celibates (Incels) are an emerging domestic terrorism threat as current adherents demonstrate marked acts or threats of violence in furtherance of their social grievance. Once viewed as a criminal threat by many law enforcement authorities, Incels are now seen as a growing domestic terrorism concern due to the ideological nature of recent Incel attacks internationally, nationwide, and in Texas. What begins as a personal grievance due to perceived rejection by women may morph into allegiance to, and attempts to further, an Incel Rebellion. The result has thrust the Incel movement into the realm of domestic terrorism. The violence demonstrated by Incels in the past decade, coupled with extremely violent online rhetoric, suggests this particular threat could soon match, or potentially eclipse, the level of lethalness demonstrated by other domestic terrorism types. . . .
[Page 29] Involuntary celibate (Incel) [domestic terrorists] blame women and society for their failure to develop intimate relationships. Many advocate the use of violence against persons, both women and men, they perceive to be successfully engaging in such relationships. Following a mass shooting attack by Elliott Rodger in 2014, many Incels praise him as the “Supreme Gentleman” and support the idea of similar attacks, sometimes called an “Incel Rebellion.”113 Incels utilize symbology in their communications, particularly in language. They refer to attractive women as “Staceys” and unattractive women as “Beckys.” “Chads” (alpha males) are men perceived as desirable to attractive women.

The TDPS report then lists a number of incel-related attacks, beginning with Clyde’s June attack on the Dallas federal courthouse, and the footnote directed me to this Texas Monthly article:

Clyde’s social media presence was similar to that of a number of mass shooters. He shared memes that contained references to “incels,” a subculture of men who declare themselves “involuntarily celibate” and who have proven themselves capable of mass violence in places like Isla Vista, California, Toronto, and Parkland, Florida. He referenced Alex Jones and “Hollywood pedophiles,” attacked Hillary Clinton, and was comfortable with swastikas and confederate flags. A week before he went to the federal courthouse, he posted a video declaring “the storm is coming,” a phrase popular among the QAnon conspiracy theorists. He referenced the sort of memes that were popular on sites like 4chan, where users employ nihilistic humor and obscure references — a body pillow featuring anime characters, for example, is a reference that “normies” who live outside of the subculture are unlikely to pick up.
In other words, Clyde was immersed in the same sort of radicalized online culture as a lot of other mass shooters. . . .
There’s no clear trail when it comes to Clyde. Unlike a number of shooters, he didn’t pen a lengthy manifesto before he left home for the final time. If he posted on the anonymous 4chan message boards — which, based on the memes he enjoyed, seems possible — no one has yet connected the activity there to his real-world identity. . . .
The incel subculture is built specifically around the idea that some men are too undesirable to fit with society, and it encourages men who identify with the group to take their frustration out on women. The Isla Vista shooter, who described himself as a “supreme gentleman” in videos before his attack, is a meme among the group, referenced with the same are-they-serious tone by both trolls at home and people who are about to commit mass murder. None of it, the incel doctrine says, is worth taking seriously. Instead, incels urge one another to get a “high score” with the veneer of irony that says that nothing matters — not their own lives, not the lives of others, not even actually going through with an attack. It’s not the dark seduction of someone being urged to commit violence in the name of a cause so much as it’s the constant one-upping of a dare, where men who were drawn to the community out of a sense of worthlessness challenge each other to prove otherwise, never really expecting that they will. . . .
Brian Clyde’s family doesn’t know how he ended up radicalized, masked, and armed, firing shots at a federal courthouse before his death. We do know that in 2016, Clyde’s half-brother called the FBI to warn that Clyde was “suicidal and had a fascination with guns.” In the lead-up to the shooting, Clyde posted incel memes about a “Chad rampage” and a “virgin shooting,” but despite his mental health history and the infatuation with toxic online culture, the family says they didn’t see it coming. In a statement released shortly after the shooting, they said, “We don’t understand any more than anyone else why he chose to do what he did, but we are very thankful that there was no other loss of life.”

Everybody who writes about this keeps returning to two themes:

  1. Online “incel” forums;
  2. Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger.


As mass-murderers go, however, “the Supreme Gentleman” really didn’t get much of a body count. Rodger “killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself inside his vehicle.” Three of the people Rodger murdered were his male roommates, Weihan Wang, Cheng Yuan Hong and George Chen, who were all stabbed to death in their apartment about three hours before Rodger began driving around near the UCSB campus, using three 9mm pistols to shoot people more or less randomly. As bad as that was, Rodger killed fewer than half the number who died in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre (13 killed, 21 wounded) where there was no apparent motive other than nihilism and revenge.

Of course, Rodger’s rampage could have been much worse, since he actually intended to target a sorority house, but nobody answered when he knocked on the door. The reason Rodger continues to be cited is because of his 107,000-word manifesto, “My Twisted World.”

Because it was 2014, when feminist influence surging in the long lead-up to Hillary Clinton’s anticipated presidential campaign, Rodger’s crime prompted what I called a cultural “Rashomon”:

The focus on “pickup artist” (PUA) culture as an influence on Roger is probably misguided. As his manifesto makes clear, the Creepy Little Weirdo had been overwhelmed by resentment and a sense of failure since he was in middle school, and he didn’t start ranting on PUA forums until after he had already decided on his “Day of Retribution.” So he acquired from PUA culture a jargon (“Alpha males,” etc.) but this was not the source of his anger, nor did it exercise a determining influence on his actions.

A political significance was imputed to Rodger’s action because feminists wanted to make him a political symbol, a sort of scarecrow figure to incite anti-male fear and loathing. There is no evidence that he was inspired to murder people because of anything he read on the Internet. His motive was rooted in his own social and psychiatric problems, and he merely used jargon borrowed from the “manosphere” in describing his plight. Consider what a friend of his father’s wrote:

“I first met [Rodger] when he was aged eight or nine and I could see then that there was something wrong with him. I’m not a psychologist, but looking back now he strikes me as someone who was broken from the moment of conception … You were hoping that inside there was a normal kid wanting to come out — that he would overcome his shyness and bloom in some way. What became evident, only after reading the manifesto and watching that video, was that what he was actually hiding was this horribly twisted little monster.”

So from age 8 or 9, a family acquaintance noticed “there was something wrong with” Elliot Rodger, who was “broken” in such a way that it seemed to be a congenital flaw, an innate defect, something that went wrong before he was ever born. It is misleading to suggest that Rodger was “radicalized” by anything he read on the Internet, when there is abundant testimony to his psychiatric problems, for which he was prescribed medication that he refused to take. Psychotic rage is not a political philosophy, but feminists wanted to make Elliot Rodger a symbol, and so the Isla Vista killer took on a larger-than-life significance. Since then, of course, the Creepy Little Weirdo has inspired copycats who actually do seem to think of themselves as part of some kind of radical movement. What is their “cause”? Avoiding responsibility for their own personal problems by scapegoating “enemies,” as if (a) some random sorority girl is to blame because (b) Elliot Rodger couldn’t get laid.

As irrational as such a belief is, it’s not less rational than Democrats who see “racism” as the universal explanation for everything wrong. That is to say, insofar as the “incel movement” exists (other than just a bunch of losers whining on obscure web forums), it seems to be heterosexual guys adopting a liberal victimhood mentality, as if they imagine they have a “civil right” to sex with cute sorority girls. To describe this as a “terrorist threat” is to inflate a comparative handful of violent lunatics into something equivalent to Al-Qaeda, with Elliot Rodger in the role of Osama bin Laden, I guess. But according to Very Serious People at Georgetown University, we should be afraid:


The incel ideology is real — and lethal. In the deadliest incel-linked attack to date, in April 2018, 10 pedestrians were killed in a vehicle-ramming attack on Toronto’s busy Yonge Street. Other deadly attacks that have cited incel ideology or inspiration have occurred at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in October 2015; Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico, in December 2017; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018; and the Tallahassee Hot Yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, in November 2019. The death toll in the United States and Canada now stands at nearly 50 people.

What? Some of those attacks had no connection to “incel” ideology. The Aztec High School shooter was William Edward Atchison, who frequented Internet forums under a variety of pseudonyms, expressing his fanboy admiration for school shooters. For example, he referred to the Columbine massacre as “LOLumbine.” And the astonishing thing is that Atchison was actually questioned by the FBI in 2016:

“It’s a shame he wasn’t on our radar,” San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen told Fox News [in December 2017]. “I don’t think he had anything so much as a traffic ticket.”
And yet online, the 21-year-old New Mexico resident lived a prolific life as a white supremacist, pro-Trump meme peddler who was most known for his obsession with school shooters. For a half-decade, Atchison spent most of his days online, repeatedly posting threats of violence and cries for help.
When users saw posts from Atchison, who went by dozens of names like “Adam Lanza” and “Future Mass Shooter” on both larger platforms like YouTube and racist communities like The Daily Stormer, they would often ask how his manifesto was going.
Despite local law enforcement’s claims that he wasn’t a known threat, and a visit from the FBI in 2016, Atchison spent most of the last half-decade glorifying school shooters on alt-right websites and posting plaintive appeals for help in fixing his life, according to hundreds of posts analyzed by The Daily Beast. . . .
That shocking content brought the FBI to Atchison’s door in 2016.
Acting on a tip that Atchison had posted a comment on a gaming forum asking users where he could get “a cheap assault rifle” for a mass shooting, the FBI interviewed him and his family, and ultimately determined that no crime had been committed and closed the investigation.
“He was cooperative,” Albuquerque FBI Special Agent Terry Wade said at a press conference last week. “He told us that he enjoyed trolling on the internet.
“The agents specifically asked him if he had plans about conducting attacks and expressed the seriousness that we take these type of things. He assured us that he had no such plans,” Wade said.

The idea of that story, of course, is to make Atchison a “right-wing” figure, as if everyone who registers to vote as a Republican should be viewed a potential mass-murderer, but where’s the “incel” connection? Apparently, every sadsack loser is now counted as an “incel”:

Atchison outlines his floundering career and social life in rural New Mexico. He applied to fast-food restaurants and dollar stores and was rejected. He hadn’t had friends since childhood, when two people took advantage of him after he loaned them video-game consoles that were sold or weren’t given back.
He had a 3.5 GPA, he said, but dropped out in 10th grade because of anxiety and the “backwards as hell” culture at school. He says he tried to go back but dropped out again, citing his abusive family.
He called his father a “fat lazy idiot who watches fox news all day” and his mother “a psycho hillbilly drunk from florida who’s really mentally ill.”

Does this sound like your typical Republican voter? I think not. More to the point, however, is that the only apparent connection between this guy and “incel ideology” is that he was a friendless loser. The fact that he celebrated violence online with enough earnestness to merit a visit from the FBI — well, that’s something, but it’s not something organized enough to be called an “ideology.” It’s more like a pathology.

Parental incompetence is deeply implicated in the lives of these losers. If your mother is a “psycho hillbilly drunk,” as Atchison said, your prospects in life might not be encouraging, and in so many cases like this, the murderer’s family seems to be clueless about (or indifferent to) their child’s abnormal development. Exactly what do the Very Serious People at Georgetown University prescribe as a solution to “America’s Newest Domestic Terrorism Threat”?

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the incel movement’s mobilization to violence is that there are no obvious legal measures or counterterrorism intelligence initiatives available. The movement is completely decentralized, without any hierarchy or leaders, and therefore no targetable offline organizing or funding streams. . . .
Moreover, the fact that, as Berger notes, many incels themselves claim to be suffering from psychological issues such as depression or evidence some degree of autism suggests the need for more proactive intervention from therapists and other mental health professionals.

Translation: “We don’t have a f***ing clue what to do.”

How about getting parents to pay attention? How about directly addressing the real issue, what I’ve called the “Blaze of Glory” fantasy?

These losers feel insignificant, invisible. They have no real-life friends, because they’re losers and nobody wants to be friends with a loser. So they find some dingy malodorous corner of the Internet populated entirely by losers, places where no responsible adult would waste their time, and they . . . well, “commiserate” isn’t exactly the right word. It’s more like they reinforce each other’s anti-social tendencies, the way fat “genderqueer” girls do on Tumblr feminist blogs.

In a universe where there are billions of people on the Internet, it’s not surprising that there are forums with hundreds of useless geeks who think mass murder is excellent entertainment. And some small percentage of those might actually decide to commit such an atrocity.

“I’m going to be somebody” — that’s the psychology involved, a desire to achieve significance by going out in blaze of glory. Unlike the Muslim jihadi, who believes he can help bring about the caliphate by murdering infidels, the “incel” loser doesn’t have any real goal when he decides to go on a rampage; the people he kills generally have nothing to do with his problems; he doesn’t have any “cause” to promote; his chief objective is self-destruction. He is on a suicide mission, seeking to die in the most public manner possible, to gain attention in death by racking up the maximum number of kills before he dies, either by suicide or by a policeman’s return fire: “You can’t ignore me now!”

Call them what they are: LOSERS.

The heart of the issue is that these losers refuse to accept personal responsibility for their own failure, instead externalizing blame on scapegoats — William Atchison blaming his parents and his “backwards as hell” high school, as a typical example. Somewhere in their childhood, these losers were not properly disciplined, not taught to eschew self-pity, and instead were permitted to believe they were victims of others’ unfairness, setting up a vicious cycle. If everybody else is to blame for your unpopularity, this relieves you of the burden of self-improvement. No need to break yourself of bad habits, or acquire any useful skills — you’re a victim, helpless in a world of unfairness where no matter what you do, nothing ever goes right. It’s a defeatist mentality, but losers like this often engage in compensating rationalizations, imagining that the reason they are unpopular is because they are so superior to those around them. By the time they reach adulthood, this mindset — a hardened shell of arrogance protecting their damaged ego — has become a core component of their personality. “The Supreme Gentleman!”

All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women.
It has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species. All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.
This is the story of how I, Elliot Rodger, came to be. This is the story of my entire life. It is a dark story of sadness, anger, and hatred. It is a story of a war against cruel injustice. In this magnificent story, I will . . .

Yeah, whatever, dude. You’re just a loser who blames other people — the entirety of “humanity . . . as a species”! — for your personal failure.

That such losers could be categorized as a “Domestic Terrorist Threat” is to give them a significance they don’t really deserve. And if you wanted to solve the problem (insofar as it can be solved), you might take a long, hard look at the lack of male teachers in elementary schools. Maybe assign a couple of sports coaches to supervise a 45-minute period of rigorous physical exercise for boys every day. Beginning in fourth or fifth grade, no more “recess,” instead they’re going to be running wind sprints and doing push-ups. Teach ’em how to swing a baseball bat, throw a football and dribble a basketball. And for God’s sake, teach them to stop feeling sorry for themselves. Boys need to develop the kind of mental toughness that has no room for self-pity, otherwise they’re doomed.



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