Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reflections on Umpqua

Like many, this researcher was feeling very bad vibes about the end of September. Mercifully, September proved to be rather uneventful (at least within these United States) but October has begun on an ominous note.

Against the backdrop of a declining economy and Russian intervention in Syria that may prove devastating to US geopolitical goals in the Middle East, another "lone wolf" killer has shot up a school. The killing field was located at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Ten individuals were ultimately left dead, including the shooter who died via suicide after a shot out with police (at least in the current narrative on 10/3/15). Apparently the bulk of the victims came from an English class in which the shooter was enrolled.

True to form, this individual is another "three-named" murderer that the media is referring to as Chris Harper-Mercer. As can be expected, the mainstream and alternative media are already deeply engaged in another pointless and utterly frivolous debate concerning gun control that largely overlooks some of the more curious aspects of the shooting.

This researcher has been quite struck by some of the parallels between the Umpqua shooting and the one that unfolded at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. Beyond the fact that both shooting sprees involved schools, there are some striking similarities between Harper-Mercer and the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza.

Adam Lanza
Both individuals were described as serious introverts and loners who displayed ample evidence of mental illness. Both individuals were living with their mothers at the time of the shooting, who in both cases seem to have served as the only real human contact either man had on a regular basis. And both mothers seem to have been serious gun enthusiasts. Lanza's mother, Nancy, was an avid gun collector who purchased the weapons Adam used in the school shooting.

Nancy Lanza
Apparently Harper-Mercer's mother had a similar fondness for firearms. MSNBC reports:
"The mother of the rage-filled loner who shot and killed nine people at an Oregon community college blasted opponents of open-carry laws and bragged about her personal arsenal of weapons online, according to reports.
"Laurel Harper, a nurse who shared an apartment near the Umpqua Community College campus with her troubled 26-year-old son Chris Harper Mercer, boasted on Facebook that she owned a stockpile of handguns and assault rifles, according to 
" “And when the mood strikes, and as long as we’re tossing around brand names, I sling an AR, Tek-9 or AK over my shoulder, or holster a Glock 21 (not 22), or one of my other handguns, like the Sig Sauer P226, and walk out the door,' Harper bragged. 'I find the shotguns are a little too cumbersome to open carry.' "
allegedly Laurel Harper
Laurel Harper did not lose her life to her son as Nancy Lanza had, but one wonders how much of Harper-Mercer's arsenal was procured by mommy. Reportedly Harper-Mercer had a keen interest in the Sandy Hook shooting and had uploaded a video on the event to a blog three days before the shooting. Bizarrely, the top law enforcement official tasked with investigating Harper-Mercer's rampage, Sheriff John Hanlin, had vocally criticized the Obama administration's handling of Sandy Hook and allegedly had even endorsed a Sandy Hook truther documentary (i.e., the notion that Sandy Hook never happened). The latter report has been hotly contested, however.

To long time readers of this blog, however, what should be even more compelling is Harper-Mercer's ties to the US Army and interest in the far right underground. Like Wade Michael Page, Frazier Glenn Miller, Aaron Alexis, Nidal Malik Hasan and other recent mass shooters, Harper-Mercer had served in the US Armed Forces. Reportedly Harper-Mercer only made it roughly a month in the Army, attending basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, before being drummed out for failing to meet "administrative standards."

It is interesting to note, however, that Fort Jackson is a little less than three hours from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the staging ground for the bulk of the US special forces as well as home to the US Army's Psychological Warfare Center and School. The Joint Special Operations Command, which overseas US special forces and which guides much of the US's "counter-terrorism" and targeted assassinations programs, has a strong presence here. The Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page served at Fort Bragg in the psychological warfare department in the 1990s.

Despite washing out of the Army rather quickly, it clearly seems to have left a lasting impression on Harper-Mercer. He maintained a military-style shaved head and frequently wore Army fatigues when out and about, according to many of his former neighbors. This combined with his obsession with target practice and physical fitness suggests and individual who went to great lengths to recreate military life in a civilian setting.

And then of course there are Harper-mercer's inevitable links to the far right underground. A self described gun enthusiast and conservative Republican, Harper-Mercer was reportedly quite critical of the Black Lives Matter movement despite early claims to the contrary by the political right. Despite being of mixed race (his father was a white Briton while his mother is African-American), Harper-Mercer used the handle "IronCross45" frequently online and may even have purchased Nazi memorably. There is also much controversy of a message reportedly left by Harper-Mercer in the class room he shot up. The Raw Story reports:
"The shooter left behind a “multipage, hated-filled” statement in the classroom, according to a Twitter message from an NBC reporter, citing multiple law enforcement sources who were not identified. CNN, citing sources, said the statement showed animosity toward blacks.
"Hanlin declined to comment when asked about the writings at a press conference."
Harper-Mercer also expressed much admiration for the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which has long been a fixture of the militia movement in the United States. According to David Hoffman in The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror, the IRA served as a "spiritual inspiration" to the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a group widely linked to Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. Certainly the prospect of a domestic militia waging a guerilla war against one of the chief supporters of "ZOG" (i.e. the United Kingdom) would have appealed to any number of American militant groups. More on the ARA can be found here.

I suspect Harper-Mercer was deeply fascinated by the United States' militia culture. Right wing groups have been quick to latch on to his reported shooting of Christians but there are plenty of secular libertarians (many of whom are militant atheists) that have found much to admire in the militia culture. This angle will likely be all but ignored by the "alternative media," which instead will focus on guns and the shooter's designation as "spiritual but not religious" on a dating website. I have recently addressed this topic before here.
And that is all for now dear readers.

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