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The Denver shooting spree should give this GOP senator pause

A suspected killer's misogynistic social media posts sound similar to Sen. Josh Hawley’s rhetoric about defending “masculinity” from progressives.
Image: A makeshift memorial outside of the tattoo shop where owner Alicia Cardenas was killed during a shooting spree in Denver on Dec. 29, 2021.
A makeshift memorial outside a tattoo shop where Alicia Cardenas was killed during a shooting spree in Denver on Dec. 29, 2021.Kevin Mohatt / Reuters; MSNBC

The suspect police say is behind Monday’s deadly shooting spree in Denver reportedly had a history of misogynistic social media posts that at times echo mainstream conservative talking points. 

Though the suspect hasn’t named any specific lawmakers as his inspiration, these similarities should surprise no one. 

Lyndon McLeod, 47, is suspected of killing five people and injuring at least three more during Monday’s spree. He is also believed to have previously (and under a pseudonym) authored a book series depicting a man with a similar name murdering people who have the same names as the real victims in this week’s shooting. McLeod also reportedly shared violently misogynistic views on his social media accounts that build on conservative fear-mongering about men’s loss of rights and attacks on “masculinity.” 

“McLeod’s own Twitter account — which has been inactive since June 2020 — provides a disturbing insight into the shooting suspect’s extremist ideologies,” Newsweek reported, “from a glorification of ‘honor violence’ to his fixation on female chastity.” 

In one post believed to have been written by McLeod, he issued a warning on behalf of aggressive white men. “Aggro white males ARE violent & will be more violent as they are made irrelevant by a country that HATES them,” he tweeted, also according to Newsweek. “Their limbic system is in revolt against the modern world. War is coming.”

In one post believed to have been written by McLeod, he issued a warning on behalf of aggressive white men.

“Yes I’m a jerk," read another tweet. “I have high testosterone and low patience. I’ve been in more steet fights than you have teeth. I’ve been arrested on felony weapons charges. I’ve had 3 women in bed at once. I’m Aggro as f--- dude.”

These kinds of pathetic performances of pseudo-masculinity have been linked previously to violence, from Denver to Tallahassee, Florida, to Isla Vista, California.

But he's not spewing hate in a vacuum. During a speech about “masculinity” in October, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., claimed, “The Left is telling America and its men, you’re evil. You’re terrible. You must apologize and submit to your government masters to be reformed.”

Hawley spoke about so-called “masculine virtues” throughout his speech, and he listed aggression among them. He then doubled down on his remarks during a follow-up interview with Axios. 

“I think what the left is doing is attacking America,” he claimed.

This type of rhetoric is enlivening extremists throughout America. And allegations of a leftist “attack” could certainly be seen as a call to arms, even if lawmakers might publicly disagree.

Similarly incendiary speech, mixed with racial prejudice, has also seemingly motivated past massacres. The 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, targeted Latinos, sparking comparisons to former President Donald Trump’s claim that the United States was being invaded through the southern border. The 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue was committed by a killer who’d spread antisemitic rhetoric on the conservative social media site Gab

We know conservatives’ repressive rhetoric can inspire killers. All that remains are people who oppose it, and people like Hawley, who appear too enthralled by its ability to rile up the base to care.

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