April 3, 2023
Last Monday around 10 am, a private Nashville Christian school was the scene of the heartbreaking killing of three young children and three adults.
The apparent shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was killed at the scene by police. Hale was a former student at the school, and an artist/designer. Hale’s college instructors described Hale as “sweet,” “talented” and the last person they would expect to do something like this. Hale’s family said she was under a doctor’s care for “an emotional disorder.” Just before going into the school, Hale sent a suicidal Instagram to an old school-friend, telling her that “something bad is about to happen.”
Beyond that, so far no evidence has been released as to Hale’s motive in these killings. But the Nashville cops were quick to declare Hale was “transgender.” Whether this is true or not remains unclear,1 but that was all it took for prominent voices in the Republi-Nazi movement to claim that there was an “epidemic” of mass killings by transgender people, and to raise the specter of a bloody civilizational war by transgender people against “Christianity.”
Within 10 minutes, “#TransTerrorism” was trending on Twitter. And soon after that, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Senator J.D. Vance were publicly speculating that Hale’s gender identity played a role in the shooting.
That night Don Trump Jr. tweeted “Given the incredible rise of trans/non-binary mass shooters in the last few years … maybe, rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bullshit on our kids.”
And they were just getting started. On Tuesday morning, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post headlined “Transgender killer targets Christian school.” Fox “News” host Laura Ingraham suggested that gender transition hormones were responsible, though there is no evidence that Hale took these medications. Charlie Kirk, head of the fascist student group “Turning Point USA,” said, “Instead of banning ‘assault rifles’ we should ban gender affirming care for kids.”2
By Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson was talking about a holy war: “The trans movement … is the mirror image of Christianity, and therefore its natural enemy.” Christianity and “transgender orthodoxy … [are] on a collision course with each other.” He claimed, “The trans movement is targeting Christians, including with violence. … Yesterday’s massacre happened because of a deranged and demonic ideology that is infecting this country.”
On Wednesday, Overstock.com billionaire Patrick Byrne asked his Twitter followers: “How many will they slaughter in schoolyards to get even?”
From “Something Terrible Or Something Truly Emancipating…” by Bob Avakian:
Instead of fighting and killing each other, what people need to be doing now is uniting to—defend each other—opposing all unjust violence, not launching attacks on anyone but at the same time not allowing the police or “civilian” fascist thugs to wantonly brutalize and murder people. And people need to do this as part of building up the forces for revolution.
Instead of snarking and sniping at each other, and being divided by “identities,” people should be working to unite everyone, from every part of society, who can be united in the fight against oppression and injustice, with the goal of putting an end to this system that is the source of this oppression and injustice.
Fascist Logic Is Holocaust Logic
As many people have pointed out, these fascist rants are illogical, twist facts, and turn reality on its head.
- The U.S. has suffered through hundreds or thousands of mass killings. Different social scientists define and count “mass killings” differently, but two things are indisputable. One is that only a tiny percentage of any particular civilian3 social group perpetrates mass killings. The other is that the vast majority of mass killings are committed by men who are not transgender. (See here, here, and here.) Yet these fascists ignore this obvious truth and instead claim that the Nashville shooting (and three other shaky examples) signify an “epidemic” of transgender “slaughter” of children.
- Trans people are four times more likely to be victims of violence than are other people. Much of this is due to the widespread stigmatization and demonization of trans people, which pushes many into deep poverty, including for many homelessness and/or prostitution. These conditions make transgender people much more vulnerable to violence. They also face a lot of straight-up hate crimes, which have been increasing in recent years, in part fueled by the hate these fascists spread. And they are especially targeted for harassment and arrest by cops on the street, and for humiliation and sexual assault by jail and prison guards.4
- The real “epidemic” was and is the over 400 anti-trans laws introduced in over 40 states just this year. These laws attack transgender people’s rights on multiple fronts: denying access to gender affirming medical care; criminalizing drag shows (a form of transgender culture which in recent years has become popular among non-trans people); and barring them from sports. In Tennessee there have been 26 anti-trans bills, two of which have already been passed and signed. And passed or not, each and all of them contribute to demonization of trans people.
All this is true, but in a way it is beside the point. The fascists are not “unaware” of these facts. They are not making a “good faith” argument that can be rebutted. They are jumping on an opportunity to further demonize and isolate trans people (and LGBTQ people generally). The end point of this is openly stated as the “eradication of ‘transgenderism’” from the U.S., something that can only be achieved violently.
One part of Tucker Carlson’s reactionary rant is worth looking at more closely: While transgender people are not (as Carlson puts it) on “a collision course” with Christianity per se, they are objectively on a collision course with Christian fascist theocracy. The Christian fascist movement, led by powerful ruling class forces, aims to impose fundamentalist Christianity on U.S. society as a whole. Reestablishing traditional—and brutally repressive—patriarchal values and power relations is central to this. We see this in the drive to strip women of the right to abortion and reduce them to “vessels” for the bearing and raising of children. And we see it also in the hatred of LGBTQ people because their very lives are at odds with the traditional gender roles that the Christian fascists want to enforce. So when Carlson talks about transgender people violently opposing Christianity he is gaslighting and concealing what is really going down—the violent imposition of Christian fascist values on transgender people.
It is also worth remember that the “original Nazis” that held power in Germany in the 1930s and 40s, imprisoned an estimated 50,000 gay people, and sent another 10-15,000 to concentration camps, where most died. Today we see “our” fascists more and more—with a wink and a nod or openly—embracing aspects of Nazism such as anti-Semitism and the “great replacement” conspiracy theory.5 Hatred of “gender non-conforming” people is another thing they share with their predecessors.
Something Terrible OR Something Truly Emancipating
None of this can or should be dismissed just because it is founded on nonsense. It may be lunacy, but it is lunacy that a significant section of the ruling class and their deluded followers see as crucial to “Making America ‘Great’ Again.” And they are determined to enforce it, as violently as necessary. These people have Holocaust dreams on many fronts.
Meanwhile, the “mainstream” imperialists of the Democratic Party have their own nightmare vision and program for American “greatness,” which at this point is increasingly focused on waging their proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, and preparing for a major showdown with China over domination of Asia—a showdown that could well lead to world war.
And while the Democrats are not on the same page with Christian fascism, they are very much into conciliating with them (“reaching across the aisle”), not challenging or defeating them. They did not and will not defend abortion rights in any serious way, and they have not and will not seriously take on the Nazi-like attacks on transgender people.
But these dueling nightmares being pushed and fought over by ruling class forces also give rise to their opposite—raising sharp questions and sometimes fierce resistance among masses of people who repeatedly find their acceptance of the way things are disrupted and shattered. People are asking, often with tears in their eyes, what kind of a society is this, what kind of a world?
This is acutely true around the unending waves of children and young people being killed—in school shootings or in other violence. Three days after the Nashville shootings, over 1,000 people poured angrily into the Tennessee State Capitol building, furious at the Republican-controlled legislature which has been trying to set records both in restricting the rights of transgender people and in eliminating virtually all restrictions on the kinds of high-powered weapons that tear through the bodies of children and adults, again and again.
The crowd included large numbers of students who skipped school to come, as well as many parents. (One carried a toddler holding a sign: “Keep me safe: Kindergarten 2024.”) They pushed past Highway Patrol troopers to occupy the buildings rotunda. Their chants—including “We don’t want your thoughts and prayers!”—were so loud they could be heard throughout the building. Mothers screamed in the faces of legislators telling them they had blood on their hands. Meanwhile, the legislature itself broke up into rival caucuses arguing fiercely amongst themselves. Then, in what a local newspaper called “an unprecedented confrontation,” two Black freshmen members of the House seized the podium with a bullhorn and began leading chants for gun reform.
As the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian (BA) puts it in his crucial work, “Something Terrible Or Something Truly Emancipating”:
[A]s the “the normal way” society has been ruled is failing to hold things together—and society is increasingly being ripped apart—this can shake people’s belief that “the way things have always been” is the only way things can be. It can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way.
And in this same passage, BA goes on to pose an urgent challenge to revolutionaries (including people who may have just now thrown in with the revolution):
And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.
For the lives of our children, their future, and the future of humanity as a whole, this is a challenge that must be met.
1. Hale was generally known to friends and to instructors at the college they graduated from as a woman, but on some more recent social media posts Hale used a male name and male pronouns. Police later acknowledged, “We do not know the shooter’s personal gender identity.” [back]
2. “Gender affirming care,” which is supported by major U.S. medical associations, refers to a range of counseling, guidance, hormone treatments (with parental consent for children) and sometimes surgery for children who strongly and persistently identify with a different gender than the one they were registered as at birth. [back]
3. The U.S. military on the other hand routinely commits—and celebrates—mass killings (see American Crime series) and U.S. police kill over a thousand people a year, though generally only one at a time. [back]
5. The “theory” that “the Jews” have a grand plan to replace white people with non-white people as a way for the Jews to control everything. This racist and anti-Semitic lunacy has fueled a number of mass killings, including the killing of 11 people at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, and the El Paso mall shooting that killed 23 Latinos in 2019. [back]