Saturday, 18 June 2016

Jo Cox: Is Her Killer A Nutter Or An Assassin?

Thomas Mair under arrest
Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered on Thursday 18th June as she went about her job of serving her constituents in Batley and Spen, Yorkshire. She left behind a grieving husband, Brendan, and two small children. Her killer is a mentally ill man with links to far right organisations. Those facts are beyond dispute. What we're arguing about in the Twittersphere is whether or not Thomas Mair was directly incited to commit murder by the hate groups he associated with.

Exploiting the tragedy

While Jo's corpse was cooling in the morgue, the false flag conspiracy theories began to spread on social media. Could this be a desperate plot by the Remain faction to sway the debate via sympathy for a young mum and her loving, grieving family? Perhaps a desperate member of the Brexit faction had decided to shut up a politician who was having an impact in the community she served. Personally, I don't buy into either side of this attention-seeking twaddle. In any case, campaigning for both sides has been called off as a mark of respect for her.

There are two sides to every story: our side, their side, and the truth. I'm going to take a look at both sides, then leave it to you to make your own minds up.

Political motivation

Thomas Mair has a history of interest in far right white supremacist organisations, literature, and memorabilia. He is a supporter of many, including the National Alliance (NA) - a neo-Nazi organisation in the US whose founder William Pierce wrote The Turner Diaries. He had Nazi memorabilia in his home and instructions for making a home-made pistol and bombs. He appears to have been a member of Britain First, a far right militant nationalist organisation, but they're denying it.

Tom Mair holding Britain First banner
Source: Twitter. Click to enlarge

The above picture provided by shows the killer holding a Britain First banner in front of a stall where Muslims are proselytizing in the street. If this is the real deal, I can't understand why Mair's family say they'd no idea he had political views of any sort, particularly of the white supremacy variety. Okay, so he's a neo-nazi who kept his leanings from his family BUT he attacked a white woman. What was this woman doing that he hated so much he wanted to kill her for? In her maiden speech, a clue:

Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us. - excerpt from Jo Cox's maiden speech in Parliament via The Atlantic

Per The Atlantic,

Cox was also a passionate supporter of Britain’s continued membership in the EU, and her Twitter feed over the last few days urged Britons to vote to remain in the referendum on June 23. She acknowledged that immigration—which supporters of the so-called Brexit cite as a major reason for wanting to leave—was a “legitimate concern” that didn’t make someone a “racist or xenophobic,” but said it wasn’t a good reason to leave the EU.

None of this is sufficient to make even the most froth-mouthed racist gimp go out and attack an individual. However, the racist cant he had chosen to expose himself to tends to rail most against people who value inclusivity and diversity. The statement made by Mair at his trial makes sense within this paradigm:

Thomas Mair gives his name as 'Death to traitors, freedom for Britain'

Thomas Mair, 52, gave his name as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain" as  he appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court charged with the murder of MP Jo  Cox. - The Telegraph live blog of the arraignment.

The murder wasn't personal, the motive was to kill an idea, to chill political expression, to shut Them up.

A history of mental illness

The Telegraph has quoted Mair's brother Scott as saying that Tommy had a history of mental illness. Other right-wing papers are jumping on this, the idea being to distance the violence from their own output. However, it's got to be asked whether "because he's a nut" is the reason for his killing of Jo Cox.

The loner suspected of killing Jo Cox appeared deeply disturbed just 24 hours before the attack, a health counsellor said last night.

Thomas Mair said after stumbling into a 'well-being centre' on Wednesday night that he was depressed and had been on medication for a long time.

Mair's psychiatric history is at the heart of the police inquiry into the attack – and officers are also said to be investigating links to far-Right groups.

The counsellor who spoke to him for about 15 minutes on Wednesday said she realised he was in 'some sort of crisis' and there appeared to be a 'real problem'.

...Neighbours said the obsessive recluse was often seen wandering around the town and had not received any formal mental health treatment for five years. 

...He suffered with depression and said he had been on medication for a long time.

- Police probe MP killer's mental care: Loner suspected of murdering Jo Cox was 'in crisis' and sought help from health counsellor just 24 hours before attack - by Chris Greenwood and Chris Brooke for The Daily Mail

That Mair had a history of mental illness is beyond dispute.  Whether this prompted him to kill is another matter altogether.

Dare we say the "T-word?"

Well someone was going to say it and The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald has got in there with the recurring refrain, "Is terrorism a Muslim-only activity, then?"

British Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered yesterday. Although the motive is not yet proven, there is mounting evidence that the detained suspect, 52-year-old white male Thomas Mair, was motivated by political ideology. Cox was an outspoken advocate for refugees. At least two witnesses say Mair, as he carried out the attack, yelled “Britain First,” the name of a virulently right-wing anti-immigrant party. He has years of affiliation with neo-Nazi groups: what Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “a long history with white nationalism.” The U.K. is in the midst of a bitter and virulent debate about whether to exit the EU — Cox opposed that — and much of the pro-Brexit case centers on fear-mongering over immigrants. - Why Is the Killer of British MP Jo Cox Not Being Called a “Terrorist”?

Here in the UK we have indeed been reticent about using that word. Even the lefties I'm friendly with are reluctant to use it, though they do insist that the murder was politically motivated and basically blame hate speech from the right wing press. There may be some truth in that but I've got a different angle.

Is extremism a form of mental illness?

If this theory of mine is correct, people who kill citing political motivation are neither doing it because they're nuts nor because they're trying to create an ideological Utopia by killing young idealists they disagree with, they're doing it because their choice to expose themselves to extremist literature has fed on their insecurities and eaten away at their sense of self-worth until only fear and loathing remain. Think about it: I linked to a Storm Front forum post in which people complain about people mixin' it up with non-whites. I can barely bring myself to look at it for more than a minute because I find it so offensive to my personal beliefs but other people log in, sign up, and post similar hate-filled bile there. If they keep on imbibing this nonsense, how long will it be before they start to act on the sentiments that have been validated by people they consider to be peers?

The role of the internet

While exposure to hate freakery can definitely warp your mind, it is a choice. I don't support banning extremist articles, etc., from the internet, mostly because it would be harder to keep an eye on the people involved if we did. James Melville put it best:

Demonising others is counter-productive. We need debate, not hate. I will not hate. I will not adopt or subscribe to an authoritarian approach to this because authoritarianism is born of fear. Instead, we must leverage the internet to counter hate, to argue against it, and to encourage people to question what they're being told by FUD-pedlars. You can't eradicate hate freakery by banning it from the internet. It will persist, whatever we do, so we might as well confront it. I wholeheartedly support trolling Stormfront, etc. They flippin' need it.


Per the live-blog The Telegraph is posting Thomas Mair is describing himself as "a apolitical activist" who shouted "This is for Britain!" as he attacked Jo Cox. He has a history of mental illness. He can't accept that what he did is wrong. The far-right organisation Britain First is denying links with him despite the damning photo of him holding one of their banners. His actions, then, may have been inspired by the hate-freakery he had chosen to expose himself to but it's a leap to say it was caused by neo-nazi literature, etc. Similarly, his actions may have been encouraged by his mental state, in which he was convinced he was serving an ideal, but it's a leap to say "because he's a nut." So, then, what conclusion can we draw while the evidence is still being collated? Well so far it seems to me that if you suffer from anxiety and depression, etc., AND you're in the habit of seeking out racist literature, etc., and the company of hate freaks, then sooner or later you're going to end up murdering someone who fits the description of the kind of person you've been encouraged to believe is responsible for your problems.

Until it's proven otherwise, Thomas Mair appears to have been motivated by hate freakery and mental heath issues feeding off each other until the poisonous miasma created thereby resulted in violence and the murder of a mother of two, Jo Cox MP.

No comments:

Post a Comment