One problem I have with the whole “mental illness” frame for talking about mass shooters, is that the “mental illness” often appears to be garden variety authoritarian ethno-nationalist misogyny, with the misogyny being the really critical ideological lynchpin (h/t commenter Karen from Texas):
Mauricio Garcia, 33, maintained a profile on the Russian social networking platform OK.RU, including posts referencing extremist online forums, such as 4chan, and content from white nationalists, including Nick Fuentes, an antisemitic white nationalist provocateur. . . .
In another post, he made disturbing comments about what makes a mass shooting “important” and praised a person who opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville earlier this year, killing six people, including three children.
The shooter also posted a series of links to other sites, including a YouTube account that featured a video published the day of the shooting. In it he removes a “Scream” mask and says, “Not quite what you were expecting, huh?”
He also posted photos of a flak vest emblazoned with patches, including one with the acronym for “Right Wing Death Squad,” a popular meme among far-right extremist groups. Another post included a series of shirtless pictures with visible white power tattoos, including SS Lightning Bolts and a swastika. . . .
Many of Garcia’s other posts were misogynistic, railing against women and parroting language used in incel, or involuntary celibate, communicates. In the posts, Garcia references specific incel forums and valorizes a gunman whose 2014 mass murder spree in Isla Vista, California, is celebrated in incel communities.
When I first heard the mass shooter in this case was a man in his 30s living with his parents I immediately assumed that incel ideology was very likely to be at the core of his particular set of beliefs.
Sexual frustration is an almost universal human experience, but in the last couple of decades the Internet has allowed sexually frustrated young men to transform that experience into a politics of misogynistic resentment, that quickly morphs into a violent hatred of all women, and most especially women who deviate in some way from traditional gender roles, by for example going to college and getting professional employment of some sort.
All this is also intimately related to the more general right wing freakout about drag queen story hour and the possibility that a trans man might compete in some minor regional collegiate athletic event, thus undermining the very fabric of civilization.
Karen is right: Fear and hatred of women is at the absolute center of right wing politics in this country. That fascism is a wildly misogynistic ideology is not exactly some sort of coincidence.
Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
Umberto Eco, “Ur-Fascism”