On both sides of the Atlantic, last weekend was a particularly bloody time. In Isla Vista, near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara, six students were shot to death by Elliot Rodger, a young man who blamed everybody but himself for his inability to attract women. Hours later, a gun-toting terrorist in the city of Brussels opened fire at the Jewish Museum, taking the lives of four people
Both tragic incidents seem to have been motivated by intense hatred for an entire group of people — Jews in Brussels and women in California. Still, the differences between the incidents are also profound, representing important characteristics that distinguish American from European acts of hate-fueled violence generally.
Massacres in European countries tend to be politically motivated. The killer has a cause. He seeks to change national policy regarding immigrants, Jews, Israel, Palestinians, or Muslims. His killing spree is designed to send a message of hate not only to each and every member of his victim’s group but also to his like-minded compatriots. He seeks to emphasize through violence that “outsiders” simply will not be tolerated in his country.