Sunday, October 28, 2018


After reading articles in The Washington Post and The New York Times about Cesar Sayoc, the MAGAbombing suspect, I think I know what the next David Books column will be. Consider the stories' headlines: In the Times it's "Cesar Sayoc, Mail Bombing Suspect, Found an Identity in Political Rage and Resentment," while the Post has "‘He Felt That Somebody Was Finally Talking to Him’: How the Package-Bomb Suspect Found Inspiration in Trump."

Do you see why this is a perfect set-up for Brooks? Brooks loves to tell us that America's real problem isn't toxic right-wing politics or the plutocracy taking all the money -- it's our lack of community, which is turning us into a nation of rage monsters and suicidal Fentanyl addicts. This, from the Post story, will trigger all of Brooks's confirmation bias:
As far back as 2002, lawyer Ronald Lowy recalled, the windows of Sayoc’s white Dodge Ram van were covered in stickers of Native American regalia. Though Sayoc was Filipino and Italian, he claimed to be a proud member of the Seminole tribe, Lowy said.

The lie was one of many Sayoc would spread about himself over the years. He falsely claimed to have worked as a Chippendales dancer, and he was once charged with fraud for modifying his driver’s license to make it appear he was younger, said Lowy, who represented him in the case. Sayoc seemed to have a new business venture every three months, though none was successful. He worked as a DJ or bouncer at strip clubs, dabbled in bodybuilding, and spent much of the past decade living out of his van, Lowy said.

“He made up stories in order to try to impress people,” Lowy said. “He felt like he didn’t have a background that he respected or liked.”

Then Donald Trump burst onto the political scene.
The Times has this:
Cesar Sayoc Jr. was a volatile nobody desperate to become a somebody.

He styled himself as a bodybuilder, entrepreneur, member of the Seminole tribe and exotic-dance promoter in the status-hungry beachfront world of South Florida....

“He had tremendous anger slowly boiling up, and resentment, and felt ‘less than,’” Mr. Lowy said. “He lacked an identity. He created a persona.” ...

“He was looking for some type of parental figure and being a loner, being an outcast, being the kind of person Trump speaks to, I think he was attracted to Trump as a father figure,” Mr. Lowy said.
There's the Brooks column: America no longer provides men like Cesar Sayoc with a sense of belonging, so Sayoc sought out possible identities in vain -- until he accepted an invitation to join MAGA Nation.

The problem is that Sayoc could have found a healthier sense of community elsewhere -- even among exotic dancers or bodybuilders -- and we might ascribe his failure, and also the fact that he sought to join groups that weren't really open to him, like the Seminole Indians, not to an atomized America, but to the fact that he's mentally ill. (The Times tells us that "Mr. Sayoc’s mother and sisters urged him to seek mental-health treatment.") It's not that America has too few bowling leagues and MAGA Nation was the last one in America -- instead, it was an ideal place for a guy who has anger management issues and other psychological problems.

Brooks will probably also bring accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers into the column -- but so far we don't have evidence that he struggled to find a community. He seemed to do just fine among the anti-Semites -- not because he was desperate to belong, as Brooks will probably say, but because he's an anti-Semite.

Brooks might surprise us and go in another direction, but this is my guess.


UPDATE, TUESDAY: I was right about Brooks. Here's the column.
These mass killings are about many things — guns, demagogy, etc. — but they are also about social isolation....

Killing sprees are just one manifestation of the fact that millions of Americans find themselves isolated and alone.
So predictable.

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