After Alek Minassian allegedly drove his van into a crowd of people in Toronto, killing 10 and injuring 15 people, Canadian authorities were quick to debunk the attack as an act of terrorism. The reason: There was no motive. The public safety minister Ralph Goodale said while the attack seemed “deliberate,” it was not “part of an organized terror plot.”
According to the Canadian rules, for an attack to be considered terrorism, “the attacker must have a political, religious or social motivation, something beyond ‘wanting to terrorize.’”
Despite the quick rejection of this being an act of terrorism, the question arises: Did Minassian really have no motive?
A few days before the tragic incident, the suspect wrote on his Facebook page about the start of the “incel Rebellion.” But who are incels?
The term stands for involuntary celibates. The incels blame beautiful women for not sleeping with them. The concept is so bizarre, not many consider it an ideology.
The term was apparently coined by a lonely woman named Alana some 20 years ago on an online support forum for single people. She had no idea years later it would be used to define “violent misogyny.”
“It feels like being the scientist who figured out nuclear fission and then discovers it’s being used as a weapon for war,” she said.
Mike Wendling, the editor of BBC Trending, called the practice “raw hatred.”
“It is vile. It is just incredibly unhinged and separate from reality and completely raw,” he added.
The incels have distinguished hate figures: the term Stacys stand for attractive women, the term Chads refers to attractive men and the term normies means individuals who aren’t considered attractive enough, yet manage to date people.
In simple words, incels cannot find partners and viciously hate anyone who can.
They think some of the problem lies with polygamous attractive men who date several women, leaving none for them. “Incelcast,” a three-hour podcast on the Toronto attack, discussed this “problem.”
But they consider women as the “main problem.” They blame feminism for not getting dates and mull over horrific scenarios to punish women who reject them. The punishments include mass rape fantasies and threads upon threads on Reddit on how to follow women without getting arrested.
There is no estimate of how many people ascribe themselves as “incels,” but according to Wendling, “it’s not one tiny bit of Reddit.”
“It’s big,” he explained. “It’s substantial. It’s a movement that has tens of thousands of people who visit these boards, these sub-Reddits, which are safe places for them.”
There lies a huge contrast in what incels proclaim to believe and what they practice.
“There is a really interesting irony in the incel style of quasipolitics — they are both a response to and advocates of almost an Ayn Randian view of romance and human relationships. So they rail against the loneliness and the isolation and the individualism of modern life, but they seem to advocate it as well, in that they love the language of the strong triumphing over the weak. But they themselves are the weak,” said Angela Nagle, the author of “Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right.”
“They’ll say how terrible it is that the left has won the culture wars and we should return to traditional hierarchies, but then they’ll use terms like ‘banging sl**s’, which doesn’t make any sense, right?” Nagle added. “Because you have to pick one. They want sexual availability and yet, at the same time, they express this disgust at promiscuity.”
Incels also share beliefs and terminologies with white supremacists. They obsess over how their looks are the reason they cannot get women. They consider the world is divided into Alphas (the Chads), Betas (average, frustrated men) and Omegas — the lowest of the pack and rejected by everyone. They use this self-description as a reason to establish supremacy over women who dare to deny them.
The morning after the Toronto attack, one social media post read how the society “treats single men like trash, and it has to stop. The people in power, women, can change this, but they refuse to. They have blood on their hands.”
The Isla Vista killer, Elliot Rodger, killed six people and injured 14 others near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2014 in his quest for “retribution” against attractive women and the attractive men they chose over him. The Southern Poverty Law Center named him the “first terrorist of the alt-right.”
So is it correct to say incels actually have no motive? The authorities’ unwillingness to call the Toronto attack an act of terrorism implies since the attack appears to against women, it cannot be terrorism. But it would have been termed one, if it was against absolutely anyone else.