By: Michael Davis*
On April 27, 2019, John T. Earnest, a 19-year-old nursing student at California State University San Marcos, carried out a shooting attack at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, near San Diego, California, killing one and wounding three others. He managed to fire only eight to 10 rounds before his rifle either jammed or malfunctioned. He also claimed, in his manifesto, to have previously set fire to a mosque in Escondido, which was immediately extinguished people on the scene.
Earnest was active on Twitter, but it appears that most of his online activity took place on the imageboard website 8chan. It was there that he published his manifesto, titled "An Open Letter," around the time of the attack. His manifesto is important in that it affords a window into the thinking of others who share similar views and who are similarly motivated. In it, he states that he began planning his attack shortly after the March 15, 2019 massacre in two Christchurch, NZ mosques carried out by Brenton Tarrant. Both Tarrant and Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers are listed by Earnest in the letter as directly inspiring his attack.
Earnest's eight-page manifesto is predominantly anti-Jewish, although he does use racial slurs against Middle Easterners, for example "sandniggers" and "durka," and against Latinos and African-Americans, whom he calls "spics" and "niggers." As does Tarrant's manifesto, it follows a question-and-answer format. He addresses several topics outlining his political and racial views, his personal background, and his motives for the attack. He directs it to his family and friends, to Jews and Jewish media agents, to his online supporters and followers, and to other Christians.
Earnest's manifesto enables us to see a chain of events: His attack was inspired by perpetrators of similar attacks – Tarrant's attack in 2019, who in turn drew inspiration from the 2011 Norway mass murder carried out by Anders Breivik.
It should be noted that Tarrant himself named several other individuals who inspired him – including Luca Traini, Dylann Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, and Darren Osbourne – both in his manifesto and on the weapons and ammunition magazines that he used in the attack; he posted pictures of these on his social media accounts prior to the attack (see Appendix).
Earnest's Perception Of His Identity
According to news reports, Earnest grew up in the San Diego area, where he graduated from Mt. Carmel High School. He reportedly lived with his parents in Freeport Court, San Diego and attended Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido, CA, which is regarded as a fundamentalist church.
In his manifesto, Earnest endorses two main identity roots: one as a member of the European race, and the other as Christian. In addition, he reveals a deep attachment to music, stating that he played piano from age four, and to video games.
In music, he declared Beethoven to be a prominent source of inspiration, and Chopin's Scherzo No. 2 as well, which he claims to be his favorite piece to play. "However," he say, "killing Jews might change that – I'll get back to you on that one."
Video games are referenced in the manifesto indirectly; he applies their terminology to real life, and also erroneously attributes a quote from a game to the Bible. Earnest refers twice to the game Minecraft, which he also applies to a real-life context. His first reference is a "list of advice" for different targets that can be attacked and the do's and don'ts when executing an attack; however, he expresses reservations regarding this advice, saying: "Again, I’m talking about Minecraft." The second reference is his "decision" not to use a flamethrower in the attack, even though it could have given him a "higher score."
Earnest begins his manifesto by stating that he is a man of European ancestry and that "the blood that runs in his veins is the same that ran through the English, Nordic, and Irish men of old." He added that he is a descendent of one of the original colonists of the 16th-century Roanoke, Virginia settlement, also named John Earnest, adding that he is "blessed by God for such a magnificent bloodline."
Earnest writes: "Why are you doing this? [meaning the attack] Surely killing a fraction of Jews will not solve any problems. Are there not better ways to save the European race?" He answers, "Yes and no. There are three roles that must be played in this revolution. Those who spread the truth, those who defend the race, and those who continue the race (by having children). Where [what] most people misunderstand is that all three of these must be performed by everyone to the best of his ability. There has been little done when it comes to defending the European race. As an individual I can only kill so many Jews. My act of defense is not so much about my high score – that is how many Jews I can... [send] straight to fucking hell, but rather the statement that I made."
Stating that these three roles must be carried by everyone to the best of their abilities, he adds that little has been done to defend the European race. He states: "There is at least one European man alive [meaning himself] who is willing to take a stand against the injustice that the Jew has inflicted upon him. That my act will inspire others to take a stand as well. And when this revolution starts gaining traction (if I am not killed) I expect to be freed from prison and continue the fight. I do not seek fame. I do not seek power. I only wish to inspire others and be a soldier that has the honor and privilege of defending his race in its greatest hour of need – and have a family if possible."
Earnest links his belief in Church and God to his rationale for carrying out the attack. In the manifesto, he asks himself "Why so much hatred?" and goes on to provide the answer: "There is no love without hatred. You cannot love God if you do not hate Satan. You cannot love righteousness if you do not also hate sin. You cannot love your own race if you do not hate those who wish to destroy it. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin." He adds that while he himself may be filled with hatred, he is also filled with love. On the possibility that he might die in the attack, he writes: "If I die – I die. I do not care if I die, but I will not sin against my God and murder myself. I plan on living (only you know the outcome)."
Calling on all Christians, "my brothers in Christ of all races," to remain strong in their beliefs, he says: "Although the Jew who is inspired by demons and Satan will attempt to corrupt your soul with the sin and perversion he spews – remember that you are secure in Christ... Always remember that it is God that is keeping you alive and in faith. All sin stems from the arrogant belief that one does not need God... Christ alone is the only source of life. Know that you are saved in Christ and nothing – not death, nor torture, nor sin – can steal your soul away from God."
Answering hypothetical questions about his religious rationale for the attack, he writes: "How can you call yourself a Christian and do this? Surely the Bible calls for you to love your enemies?" In response, he first says that one is not necessarily Christian only by saying so, and says of himself, "I did not choose to be a Christian. The Father chose me. The Son saved me. And the Spirit keeps me. Why me? I do not know." About loving the enemy, Earnest states: "Trust yids and their puppet braindead lemming normalfags to take one quote from the Bible and grossly twist its meaning to serve their own evil purposes – meanwhile ignoring the encompassing history and context of the entire Bible and the wisdom it takes to apply God's law in a broken world." He continues, "Is it lawful to let a thief murder my friend instead of killing the thief to prevent the death of my friend?" and answers, "It is not loving towards your friend to let him be murdered. It is not loving towards your enemy – the thief – to let him murder."
He adds: "It is unlawful and cowardly to stand on the sidelines as the European people are genocided around you. I did not want to have to kill Jews. But they have given us no other option."
Earnest argues that God understands why he carried out the attack: "My God does not take kindly to the destruction of His creation. Especially one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and innovative races that He has created. Least of all at the hands of one of the most ugly, sinful, deceitful, cursed, and corrupt."
He supports this rationale with Bible quotes:
"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:24-25).
"I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham... Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8:37-45).
"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins away: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan" (Revelation 2:9). "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee" (Revelation 3:9).
He includes a sixth verse about which he says, "I forget where in the Bible this verse comes from, but it's definitely in there": "Hey you, you're finally awake. You were trying to cross the border right? Walked right into that Imperial ambush. Same as us, and that thief over there." This quote is actually from the video game "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim."
Political And Racial Worldview
Also in his manifesto, Earnest discusses his political views and his views of other races. In answer to a hypothetical question about whether he is a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, he answers, "You mean that Zionist, Jew-loving, anti-White, traitorous cocksucker? Don't make me laugh." In answer to another question about whether he has any political affiliation, he answers, "Yes. It's called not wanting to go extinct."
To the question he poses about whether he is a conservative, he answers that he is not, because he is not a "useless, spineless coward." Conservatives, he says, endlessly complain while not being willing to take up arms and threaten their government.
Regarding his views about other races, Earnest states that he hates anyone who seeks the destruction of his race. He adds, "Spics and niggers are useful puppets for the Jew in terms of replacing Whites. Of course, they aren't intelligent enough to realize that the Jew is using them and they will be enslaved if Europeans are eliminated."
In answer to the hypothetical question of whether he considers himself a terrorist, he replies: "I'm not wearing the sandnigger equivalent of a durag, my skin isn't the color of shit, you can't smell me from across the room, it is socially unacceptable for me to marry my cousins, I do not shout 'Durka durka mohammed jihad,' and it doesn't look like a sadist attempted to play tug-of-war with my nose."
Motivation For The Attack
Earnest's European identity is a dominant element in his reasoning for carrying out the attack. In his answer to another hypothetical question, "How does killing Jews help the European race? The European race is doomed? What are you talking about? These Jews were innocent!" he states that every Jew is responsible for the genocide of the European race, and that the Jews operate as a unit to enslave the other races around them.
Earnest claims that terms such as "anti-Semite" and "white supremacist" have lost their meaning. He states that this lead to the social ostracization of white people and to their inability to live normal lives, leaving them with the only viable option – killing: "Make sure to call me a 'white supremacist' and 'anti-semite' or whatever bullshit you spew to spook the normalfags. It doesn't even matter. You’ve been calling every White person alive those names for decades – they've lost all their meaning. You’ve socially ostracized every White person. You've made it harder and harder for White people to live a normal life. To this I say well done. You are stupid enough to make a White person's only viable option for survival to kill all of you. Keep doing what you're doing Jew-media. You're putting the noose around your own neck."
In another similarity to Tarrant, Earnest cites historical as well as modern reasons for blaming and hating other ethnic groups; Earnest, however, specifically blames the Jews. He lists the political, social, and economic crimes of the Jews and also accuses them of attacking Christians and Christianity. " Their crimes are endless," he says, and lists 15 reasons for why he decided to attack the Jews:
"For lying and deceiving the public through their exorbitant role in news media.
"For using usury and banks to enslave nations in debt and control all finances for the purpose of funding evil.
"For their role in starting wars on a foundation of lies which have costed millions of lives throughout history.
"For their role in cultural Marxism and communism.
"For pushing degenerate propaganda in the form of entertainment.
"For their role in feminism which has enslaved women in sin.
"For causing many to fall into sin with their role in peddling pornography.
"For their role in voting for and funding politicians and organizations who use mass immigration to displace the European race.
"For their large role in every slave trade for the past two-thousand years.
"For promoting race mixing.
"For their cruel and bloody history of genocidal behavior.
"For their persecution of Christians of old (including the prophets of ancient Israel—Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.), members of the early church (Stephen—whose death at the hands of the Jews was both heart-wrenching and rage-inducing) [], Christians of modern-day Syria and Palestine, and Christians in White nations.
"For their degenerate and abominable practices of sexual perversion and blood libel (you are not forgotten Simon of Trent [], the horror that you and countless children have endured at the hands of the Jews will never be forgiven).
"For not speaking about these crimes.
"For not attempting to stop the members of their race from committing them.
"And finally, for their role in the murder of the Son of Man—that is the Christ. Every Jew young and old has contributed to these."
Earnest ends this passage by stating, "For these crimes, they [the Jews] deserve nothing but hell." He adds, "I will send them there."
Alluding to the possibility that his actions will classify him as mentally ill, Earnest points out that the Jews, specifically, would use the premise of mental illness to discredit him. However, when facing the question about this very hatred, i.e. "Do you feel anything but hatred for Jews?" Earnest replies that he feels disgust for the corrupt and heinous acts that Jews have committed. To a different question, "Do you hate all Jews?" Earnest responds: "I hate anyone who seeks the destruction of my race. Every Jew currently alive plays a part in the destruction of my race."
To a question about holding feelings of remorse for the planned shooting at the synagogue, Earnest claims not to feel any remorse, stating that "The Jews have depleted our patience and our mercy." He further adds that he wishes that he would be able to kill more people, and that he is honored "to be the one to send these vile anti-humans into the pit of fire – where they shall remain for eternity."
He also speaks directly to Jews, saying: "Your crimes – innumerable. Your deeds – unacceptable. Your lies – everywhere. The European man will rise up and strike your squalid and parasitic race into the dust. And this time there will be nowhere for you to run."
Ties To Family, Friends And Followers
In his manifesto, Earnest's addresses his family and friends, as well as his online followers and supporters. Beginning with his family and friends, Earnest foresees that the people closest to him will wonder why he had committed this act, expecting them to say, "How could you throw your life away? You had everything! You had a loving family. You had great friends. You had a church. You were doing well in nursing school. You could have gone so far in your field of study. You could have made so much money and started a happy family of your own."
Earnest rejects these questions by proposing counter-questions: "What value does my life have compared to the entirety of the European race? Is it worth it for me to live a comfortable life at the cost of international Jewry sealing the doom of my race?" He answers his own questions by stating that he will not sell his soul by sitting idly by as evil grows, and that he would rather die in glory or spend the rest of his life in prison than to live the rest his life knowing that he had done nothing to "stop this evil." He states: "It is not in my blood to be a coward. I do not care about the debt-based currency that Jews like to pretend is money. I do not care for the bread and circus that Jewry has used to attempt to pacify my people. I willingly sacrifice my future – the future of having a fulfilling job, a loving wife, and amazing kids. I sacrifice this for the sake of my people. OUR people. I would die a thousand times over to prevent the doomed fate that the Jews have planned for my race."
He goes on to reject the implication that his family might have shaped or influenced his belief system, saying that his family had nothing to do with his line of thought.
Furthermore, Earnest speaks out to the anonymous ('anons') activists on the messaging board 8chan, where he was apparently active regularly. As he says, "You are my brothers and the best dudes out there. You are the most honorable men of this age. Despite all odds against you, you not only discovered the truth but also help to spread it."
Although Jews are not usually considered by white supremacists to be "white," Earnest creates a connection between his planned attack on Jews, and the Day of the Rope, August 1, a day that is commonly recognized by white supremacists as the day on which the "race-traitors" are attacked and hanged in the streets. The designation of this day comes from The Turner Diaries, a book by the known American white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic author and political commentator William Pierce. Earnest says: "Some of you have been waiting for The Day of the Rope for years. Well, The Day of the Rope is here right now – that is if you have the gnads to keep the ball rolling. Every anon reading this must attack a target while doing his best to avoid getting caught. Every anon must play his part in this revolution and no man can be pulling his punches. This momentum we currently have may very well be the last chance that the European man has to spark a revolution."
It is important to note that The Turner Diaries was apparently the inspiration for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to carry out their 1995 Oklahoma City bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in which 168 people were killed and nearly 700 were wounded.
Inspiration For The Attack
To the question "Who inspires you?" Earnest answers: "Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Robert Bowers, Brenton Tarrant, Ludwig van Beethoven, Moon Man, and Pink Guy."
Earnest states that following Brenton Tarrant's attack in New Zealand, "something just clicked" in his mind. He once again quotes Tarrant's manifesto, "If I won't defend my race, how can I expect others to do the same? ". To this he adds, "I immediately got to planning, and I never looked back. I never had doubts. I never felt afraid. I never felt anxious—just the occasional nervous excitement."
Earnest calls out to remember Robert Bowers and Brenton Tarrant by asking to post memes about them. Regarding Tarrant, Earnest states that Tarrant was a catalyst for him, showing him that events like this could be done, and should be done. He then quotes rhetoric questions that Tarrant asked in his manifesto, "WHY WON'T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING? WHY WON'T SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING? WHY DON'T I DO SOMETHING? [emphasis in the original]," a phrase that Earnest claims to be "the most powerful words in his entire manifesto." He adds, "Any White man – rich or poor, young or old – who is brave enough can take any action he wants against the tyrannical and genocidal Jew. You should be more afraid of losing your entire race than this life you now live. The most dangerous kind of man is not one who has nothing to lose, but one who has everything to lose. Every single White man has everything to lose by doing nothing, and everything to gain by taking action." According to Earnest, this came to fruition on March 24, 2019, 10 days after the Christchurch mosque massacre, when, he says, he set fire to a mosque in Escondido, CA that was extinguished with no casualties.
Earnest also writes about those who denounce "violent self-defense" against Jews, referring to them as LARPfag and traitors, and claims that although these people are aware of "crimes of the Jew," they do not want to put their personal fortune in jeopardy. For this reason, he says, these people referred to Bowers and Tarrant's actions as "Mossad false flag operations," arguing that they cannot fathom that there are brave white men who say, "Fuck my life – I'm willing to sacrifice everything for the benefit of my race."
He adds that Robert Bowers gained a bad reputation due to the "inordinate amount of schizofags and flat-earth-tier-tards on /pol/ right now." Brenton Tarrant inspired him, he notes, adding that he himself hopes to inspire many others.
The Goals Of The Attack – Fomenting Civil War In The US
With the question, "Why did you use guns instead of a flamethrower? Wouldn't a flamethrower have given you a much higher score?" which refers to points in the Minecraft game, Earnest encourages people to use flamethrowers as well as guns, depending on the situation. However, he says that he used a gun for the same reason Tarrant did – that is, to foment civil war inside the United States, which he claims has already begun: "If this revolution doesn't happen soon, we won't have the numbers to win it. The goal is for the US government to start confiscating guns. People will defend their right to own a firearm... Stop the slow boil of the frog – prevent the Jew from using incrementalism. Make the Jew play all of his cards to make it apparent to more people how their rights are being taken away right before their eyes."
Earnest says that he has complete certainty that after reading his manifesto, white men will begin carrying out more attacks, to victory or death. He writes: "I'm not worried that the whole world is against you. I'm not worried because you are the greatest race that our God has created – it is our duty to keep this world from falling into darkness. White men will not let God's creation be corrupted and destroyed by the Jew without a fight. Remember your honor White men.
"More than anything I wish I could've seen your faces and fought alongside with you on the battlefield.
"Give them hell for me."
Earnest calls upon his readers to filter out people who refer to this type of activity as "false flag," and explains that people overestimate the police's ability to solve crimes such as arson and murder. He gives as an example his own failed attack on a mosque in Escondido, CA, attributing its failure to the "sandniggers" who slept at the mosque and extinguished the fire immediately after he drove off.
He says, "We are in the early stages of revolution. We need martyrs. If you don't want to get caught because you have children who depend on you, you can simply attack a target and then slip back into normal life. Every anon reading this needs to carry out attacks. They won't find us. They won't catch us. There are too many of us, and we are smarter than them."
Alluding to violent activity in Minecraft, and underlining how easy it is to burn down a synagogue or a mosque and to carry out shooting attacks against mosques, synagogues, immigration centers, politicians, wealthy Jews in gated communities and Jewish-owned company buildings, he says, "I'd highly recommend you look into flamethrowers (remember kids, napalm is more effective than gasoline if you want Jews to really light up like a menorah). I know you're out there Fire-anon – make us proud."
He goes on to say that it is easy to get away with this, advising his readers to act quickly, not wear clothes that can leave traces of DNA, not to use electronics that can be tracked or bugged, and not to leave a paper trail. At this point he states "Again, I'm talking about Minecraft."
Earnest writes about fear, saying: "Remember that fear is the only thing holding you back. Fear that you might lose everything in your life." The fact that he, a 19-year-old nursing student from "Commiefornia," just "a normal dude who wanted to have a family, help and heal people, and play piano," carried out the attack is a testament to the fact that anyone can do it.
*Michael Davis is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.
Magazines used by Tarrant in Christchurch attack
Military-grade vest used in Christchurch attack
Magazines used in Christchurch attack
Magazines used in Christchurch attack. (Source: Digi24.ro/stiri/externe/mapamond/atacatorul-din-christchurch-ar-fi-trecut-prin-romania-in-toamna-anului-trecut-1098629)
One of the rifles used in the Christchurch attack.
A second rifle used in the Christchurch attack. A picture of the second rifle the was used in the shooting (Source: Thesun.co.uk/news/8659870/new-zealand-gun-reform-10-days-jacinda-ardern-brenton-tarrant-christchurch-shooting)
The same rifle during the attack.
 Latimes.com/local/california/la-me-john-t-earnest-arraignment-20190430-story.html, April 30, 2019.
 Usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/04/27/san-diego-synagogue-shooting-what-we-know-suspect-john-earnest/3605339002, April 27, 2019.
 Tarrant shot and killed 51 people and wounded another 50.
 Shot and killed 11 people and wounded seven at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on October 27, 2018.
 Nbcnews.com/news/us-news/anti-semitic-open-letter-posted-online-under-name-chabad-synagogue-n999211, April 27, 2019.
 Nbcnews.com/news/us-news/anti-semitic-open-letter-posted-online-under-name-chabad-synagogue-n999211, April 27, 2019.
 Anders Behring Breivik carried out two terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011. The first was a van-bomb that killed eight people in Oslo in July; in the second, he shot and killed 69 participants in the Norwegian Labour Party's summer camp on the island of Utøya.
 Luca Traini is a fascist activist who shot and wounded six African immigrants in Macerata, Italy, in February 2018.
 White supremacist Dylann Roof carried out the 2015 shooting at an historic black church in church in Charleston, SC, killing nine African-Americans.
 Anton Lundin Pettersson carried out a October 2015 sword attack at a school in Trollhättan, Sweden, in a neighborhood with a large immigrant population. He killed three, including two students, and died after being shot by police. .
 Darren Osborne was responsible for a 2017 London car-ramming attack against Muslims in 2017; he killed one and wounded at least nine others.
 The Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church rejects modernist doctrines viewing the Bible as a literary and historical document. See Tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/284689/the-bloody-history-of-americas-christian-identity-movement.
 A reference to St. Stephen, considered Christianity's first martyr, stoned to death for opposing Jewish authorities.
 The 1475 murder of three-year-old Simon of Trent, later St. Simon of Trent, in Italy was attributed to Jews, who were accused of killing him as part of a Passover ritual.
 Referring to "traitors" to the White European race – for example liberal actors and politicians, and white women who had sexual relations with black men.
 A nickname for online depictions of McDonald's mascot Mac Tonight, which is associated with a text-to-speech voice reciting racist parodies of various rap songs. The character is often depicted as a member of the Ku Klux Klan advocating violence against non-white minorities. See: Knowyourmeme.com/memes/moon-man.
 Reference to a character played by YouTube persona Joji, also known as Filthy Frank.
 LARP, "Live Action Role Playing," refers to people accused of only pretending to be radical, or to those who promote radical content and beliefs but are not willing to act on them.
 "/pol/" – A reference to political boards on the sites 8ch.net and 4chan.org.