The Toxic Culture That Produced the Subway Shooter Is All Around Us | Opinion

Suspected Brooklyn subway shooter Frank James may have acted alone. But if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire culture to create a mass-murder. Ours can take full credit here. The toxic ideas that consumed James are all around us.

James is a now considered a suspect in Tuesday's subway attack, in which at least 23 people were injured and at least four hospitalized. The shooter allegedly set off smoke grenades in a crowded subway car and then started shooting.

And what motivated this act of violence? News outlets have reported that James' alleged writings and YouTube videos are laced with racism, including pejorative discussions of white, Black, Hispanic, and Asian people. This is true. But it also misses the point. If you listen closely to his rants, you will hear a singular motif emerge: the rage of the Jew-obsessed.

The subway shooter's prolific social media postings reveal a man driven by an ideological delusion frighteningly similar to that of the Colleyville shooter and other attackers. For such murderers, as for too many others, antisemitism is a comprehensive worldview in which their own inadequacies are blamed on the conspiratorial Jew.

It is not insignificant that James' YouTube moniker is "prophet of truth 88," based on the numerals that white supremacists use as code for "HH" or "Heil Hitler." Or consider a conspicuously hateful video James posted to Facebook in 2017 entitled "they hate jew," in which James derogates Jews while showing photos of Adolf Hitler and images of Jewish Holocaust victims. "This is gonna be about Jews and my personal relationship with Jews, and the utter contempt that all the f***ing Jews I've dealt with show me at the end of the day," he says.

As with so many antisemites, James recounts disappointments for which he needs to find a scapegoat. For example, James blames an occupational failure on a Hasidic Jew who acted like he wanted to help. James views such Jews who offer help in light of age-old stereotypes, accusing Jews of chicanery. "This is an FYI about these f***ing Jews, and how they will smile in your f***ing face while stabbing you in the back in a heartbeat," he says.

James filters the world through the distinctive form of "erasive" antisemitism, which has developed in certain Left-wing and minority communities, stripping Jews of a distinctive cultural identity in order to project onto them a hateful and stereotypical distortion of the truth. For example, James insists that Jews are as white "as Nazis." This enables James to view Jews as oppressive white supremacists, a view that has taken stubborn hold in the mainstream Left.

James also engages in "secondary antisemitism"—blaming Jews for misfortunes—and castigates Jews for not having lived up to the lessons of their own victimhood. "These Jews obviously haven't learned shit from their experience. You know, it hasn't humbled them in the slightest," he says. "They're... still arrogant and still feel they're superior... And, again, those motherf****rs don't contribute to shit to life on this earth but s***, piss, pollution, and death and destruction."

Frank James
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: Suspected subway shooter, Frank James is escorted out by the FBI and NYPD officers from the 9th Precinct after having been arrested for his role in the attack at the 36th St subway station in Brooklyn on April 13, 2020 in New York City. James allegedly shot 10 people and set off a smoke device on an N subway train during Tuesdays rush hour. John Lamparski/Getty Images

Each element of James' murderous ideology circulates widely throughout our society. They are taught in our schools, lectured in our universities, inculcated in corporate training, and broadcast from television studios, albeit in a more sanitized version. Jewish identity is routinely whitewashed, and the world is presented with a distorted image in which age-old stereotypes are fused with continually evolving canards.

Consider California's new Ethnic Studies curriculum, for example, which has been criticized for viewing whites and Jews as oppressors. Or Stanford's diversity managers, who have pressured Jews to join an affinity group for employees "who hold privilege via white identity," while espousing anti-Jewish stereotypes. Recall an episode at Google, where then-diversity lead Kamau Bobb lamented, "If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself."

Like the subway shooter's hate, the problem here is bigger than just antisemitism; it's that our educational and social institutions are teaching us to view one another through a basic binary. Either you are BIPOC (Black, indigenous, or a person of color), or you are a white oppressor. If you are a white oppressor, you participate in a system of racial supremacy that harms minorities in ways that fit with Frank James's diatribe.

And if you are a Jew, regardless of your background or complexion, you are the worst of the oppressors.

It's too dangerous to ignore the complicity of social institutions, including schools, colleges, corporations, and mass media, in all of this. Frank James may have pulled the trigger, but many people supplied ammunition.

It's late in the day, but it's not too late to turn things around. Divisive curricula and training programs should be replaced with new materials that teach equality and respect. No one should be stereotyped for their race or religion. Everyone should be permitted to choose, cherish and celebrate their own identities as they choose to define them, rather than those imposed upon them by diversity trainers or critical race gurus.

If we care about diversity and inclusion, we should care also about unity and respect. As our goal, we should strive to live up to the motto emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States: E pluribus unum.

Kenneth L. Marcus is Founder and Chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of The Definition of Anti-Semitism. He served as the 11th Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education for Civil Rights.

The views in this article are the writer's own.