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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What would drive a person to commit mass murder in a peaceful synagogue? Was it Robert Bowers’ anti-Semitism? Was it his belief in wild conspiracy theories?
Someone who has studied hate groups and hate speech in America says it was neither.
“This is someone who has failed at so many things in life,” said Dennis Roddy, a former investigative reporter and current political consultant with ColdSpark Consulting.
Roddy says Bowers acted not out of any specific ideology, but out of self-hatred and a deep sense of failure.
“High school drop-out, not much of a career, not much in terms of friendships or relationships, no standing in the community. People like that will latch onto anything that explains their failures and excuses them, attributes them to somebody else,” Roddy said.
The loner with no friends or accomplishments became the lone wolf, amassing a private arsenal of nearly a dozen guns and looking for a reason to use them. He cultivated an ideology of hate on the internet, where Roddy says ready targets are not hard to find.
“Because when you go online, if you want to look for hate speech, count of finding stuff about just a few people — the Jews, black people, and of course, now immigrants,” he said.
Bowers is on the very far right of the spectrum. In a bizarre twist, Bowers combined his hatred of Jews with the immigrant caravan from Central America. One picture he re-posted showed a van with the Star of David in the midst of a crowd of refugees.
Later in another post that went online just before the massacre, Bowers claimed that Jews were bringing in so-called “invaders” to slaughter Americans.
“Screw the optics,” he wrote. “I’m going in.”
“This guy could have latched onto some extreme left ideology. He latched onto a far right ideology. But the point is, extreme beliefs in search of excuses for failure tend to result in extreme actions,” Roddy said.