Last weekend, the city of El Paso, Texas and the rest of the nation bared witness to yet another horrific and devastating terrorist attack, carried out at the hands of a violent, unrepentant white nationalist terrorist. The attack was carried out by Patrick Crusius, a twenty-one-year-old man from Allen, an affluent suburb of Dallas Texas who drove nearly ten hours, seven hundred miles away to the border town city of El Paso to carry out the attack. Crusius entered a local Wal-Mart packed with an estimated one thousand to three thousand people, many which were families doing back-to-school shopping; armed with an AK-47 style rifle, wearing tactical, gear, wearing safety glasses and ear protection; and began indiscriminately firing on unsuspecting people shopping inside the store. By the time he was apprehended by police, twenty people (including four children) had been killed and another twenty-six more at the very least were wounded or seriously injured in the attack. (by Monday another two victims had died of their injuries raising the death count to a staggering twenty-two people). The victims of the shooter ranged in age from as young as two to eighty-two years old and within hours after the attack it was soon discovered in a manifesto published online by Crusius that the attack was in response to a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, and that had deliberately choose to carry out his attack at the Wal-Mart selecting at that particular location close to the border for the specific purpose to “shoot as many Mexicans as possible”. On Monday we learned that Crusius actually cased the store, leaving his weapons and gear inside his vehicle and went into the store looking for Mexicans to kill before he came back and commenced the attack. Federal authorities are rightfully investigating the attack as an act of “domestic terrorism” and are considering filing hate crimes and federal firearms charges against Crusius that carry the penalty of death.
The attack sadly is just the latest in a disturbing and ever increasingly growing trend, of calculated and deliberate attacks. Last weekend’s attack is the latest amongst a long list of acts of terrorism carried out at the hands of white supremacist terrorist; many whom radicalized via online means. Last Saturday’s shooting came right on the heels of yet another suspected white supremacist terrorist attack just a mere six days prior at a Garlic Food Festival in Gilroy, California. Carried out by Santino William Legan; (who also used an AK-47 style assault weapon) the nineteen-year-old attacker posted references to literature on social media popular with white supremacists and neo-nazis, and said he was disgusted by the “hordes of mestizos” in California a mere hour before carrying out the deadly attack that killed three people, two of whom were children. On Tuesday, August sixth more than a week later the F.B.I. announced that it had launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the attack, stating that Legan had explored “violent ideologies” and that list of possible alternate targets including religious institutions, political organizations, as well as federal buildings and courthouses had been discovered by the bureau’s investigation.
However, unlike the shooting in Gilroy, California; from practically the very beginning there was not a shadow of a doubt regarding the beliefs and ideology held by the shooter in El Paso. Patrick Crusius is by all accounts a violent, militant, white supremacist which can be seen in a four-page anti-immigrant manifesto published on the website 8chan just minutes before commencing the attack which he called Hispanics ‘invaders’. In Crusius opening sentence he praises Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist who carried out a series of mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand that left fifty-one people dead last March, along with Robert Bowers a Neo-Nazi who shot eleven worshippers to death at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania last fall. Conversely, Crusius parroted popular white nationalist talking points such as ‘The Great Replacement’; a conspiracy theory regularly pushed by white supremacists alleging a covert, global plot to systematically replace whites in western countries. Likewise, Crusius rallied against, interracial marriage, mixed and unions and of course a ”Hispanic invasion” which he claimed democrats are to utilizing to shift political power await from whites. While of these details and many more are all equally horrible, perhaps the most obvious and glaring insight that has been gathered from the manifesto has been Crusius’ undeniable adoration for Donald Trump. While Crusius claims in the manifesto that he’s held his white supremacist ideology for years, predating Trump’s presidential campaign; these claims come off as rather dubious, to say the least. They are made that much more questionable considering that quotes and phrases commonly used by Trump on multiple occasions in the past such as “invasion’, “fake news”, “send them back”, “open borders” and more can be seen littered all throughout the sprawling two thousand plus word manifesto. However, if words weren’t alone damning enough, a mere few hours after the shooting photos from the shooter’s social media accounts; including a retweeted picture from Crusius’ now since deactivated Twitter account which displayed Trump’s named spelled by dozens of various firearms and handguns only further serves paints a clearer picture of his infatuation and adoration for Trump.
Monday morning Trump made a vain and pathetic attempt to deliver a somewhat competent speech addressing not only the El Paso attack but, a different attack from yet another suspected terrorist attack in Dayton, Ohio that left nine dead that took place just a mere couple hours later. In pure Trumpian fashion Donald Trump tried to pivot to mental illness and news coverage for the attack, attempting to lay blame and culpability on the media for the white supremacist terrorist attack in El Paso; even going as for to tweet, “The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”. Because of course in Trump’s small reptilian mind, it’s alway someone else at fault. Not once did he mention that the killer’s manifesto echoed the same anti-immigrant language that he has used on a regular basis for his entire political career. Not once even mentioning the word ‘Hispanic’, in a city where more than eighty percent of the population is Hispanic and following an attack where the shooter explicitly said he wanted to specifically target and kill Hispanic people. In fact, as Trump couldn’t get even lower even attempted to marry the idea background checks with immigration. Again, Trump all but completely ignored that fact that a white supremacist terrorist, who parroted all of the popular white supremacist talking points Trump loves to traffic in, a person that for all intensive purposes loves adores these tenants that Trump regular champions carried a hate-driven terrorist attack that has claimed the lives of twenty-two people. Perhaps that best commentary on Trump’s embarrassingly weak and tepid came from journalist Adam Serwer, a contributor for the Atlantic who said, “Trump sounds like a robot when condemning white supremacy and like himself when he’s attacking religious and ethnic minorities because one is him pretending and one is him being himself.”
In unequivocal terms, it must be said, the attack that occurred this past weekend in El Paso, Texas was an act of white supremacist domestic terrorism. An act of politically motivated violence committed by a violent, Trump-supporting white supremacist who was driven and radicalized by anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hate. In fact, last Saturday’s attack was the deadliest day for hate crimes in the U.S. in nearly ninety-eight years! Not since the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, where mobs of white rioters attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma has there been such a single large-scale attack where people were specifically targeted and killed because of their race. Again, I think it warrants repeating. We are currently living in the era of the deadliest hate in U.S. history. Not in the 1950s, not even in the 1960s; right here, right now almost in 2020 we are living in one the most dangerous era in the country’s history. And the stark reality is, while Trump and other politicians on the right try to distance themselves and past rhetoric that is echoed and mirrored in that of the shooter, what Cruscius wrote in his manifesto is no different than what can be found in the mentions of thousands of user accounts across twitter. It can be seen echoed almost word for word in comments scribbled across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and countless other platforms extending into the deepest fathoms of the internet. It can be seen parroted and endlessly repeated by white supremacists sympathizers and commentators like Tucker Carlson (on Tuesday August 6th on his show called white supremacy in the U.S, a “hoax” and “not a real problem in America.”), Laura Ingraham and Tomi Lahren who regularly traffic in, facilitate and champion white supremacist talking points on their platforms (such as the ‘Great Replacement’ touted by the El Paso shooter) practically on a daily basis on Fox News. The frightening reality is that the bigoted, racist rhetoric espoused by Crusicius are not merely those of one violent, bigoted, hateful man confined solely to the realms of the internet; they are part of a broader ideology and movement that at best hundreds of thousands, and at worst potentially millions of whites in the U.S. not only believe in but, religiously adhere too. They just have simply yet to act upon it; and every single day that rhetoric is vindicated, legitimized and trumpeted from none other the white house; the highest office in all the nation.
This dangerous rhetoric, of course, is nothing new, Trump has regularly championed bigoted positions and white supremacist talking points since before the beginning of his political career. He’s used terms like “invasion” and “infestation” in regards to groups of people that he targets on a regular basis; implying to his most ardent supports and broader base that they vermin, a dangerous plague that needs to annihilated and destroyed at all costs. Again, it is language and terminology that is regularly utilized in the white supremacist lexicon, to degrade and dehumanize Mexicans, Central-Americans, Muslims, African-American, refugees and other marginalized groups of people; except now that very rhetoric is not only being megaphoned but championed and given a safe haven from the highest office in the country. While this far from the first time racists and white supremacists have exalted and publicly expressed their adoration for Trump; it is just the latest iteration in a long-standing trend of Trump’s incendiary, outwardly bigoted, racist rhetoric and policies influencing the actions of violent white supremacists that carry out some of the deadliest domestic terrorist attacks in this nation’s history.
What we are experiencing now is the result of five years of toxic, bigoted, xenophobic rhetoric which spews from Trump like a broken sewage pipe on damn nearly daily basis. Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign castigating Mexicans as “rapists”, “criminals” and “drug dealers”. He has regularly perpetuated lies and fabricated crime statistics of undocumented immigrants to justify a billion-plus dollar wall vanity between the United States and Mexico. Trump enacted a Muslim travel ban into the United States, going as far as to take the fight all the way to the supreme court to fulfill his agenda. He’s called violent, rioting white supremacists and neo-Nazis at Charlottesville in 2017 “very fine people”. He’s called Black athletes protesting police brutality “son’s of bitches”, degraded Black reporters as ‘stupid’, he called African nations “Shit hole countries”, and as recently as just a few weeks ago old congresswomen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts (whom all women of color) to “go back” to the “places from which they came”. Never mind that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley were all born in the U.S.; and Ilhan Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia when she was only a little girl. But in Trump’s bigoted eyes their complexion, their nationalities all but invalidated their positions, their authority an above all their dignity as human beings. Because they don’t fit into his narrow, white little box of what a ‘real’ American is, Trump felt all but emboldened to tell these four accomplished congresswomen to “go back where they came from”. By all accounts prior to and since assuming the oval office, Donald Trump has dedicated his life to enabling bigotry and racism. But perhaps single most damning example clearly tying Trump’s violent, dangerous rhetoric to the violence we are now seeing play out across cities throughout the U.S. was just a mere two months ago. Last May, while speaking at once of his rallies in Florida, Trump himself laughed when at the event while he was disparaging immigrants and asylum seekers, an audience member shouted out “shoot em’!”; suggesting that shooting migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border was the appropriate recourse. Trump, who seemed visibly amused by the remark merely responded saying; “only in the Panhandle, you can get away with that statement”, chucking to himself as a raving crowd cheered; whipped up in a zealous, bigoted, ghastly furor.
Trump didn’t scold his audience, he didn’t say, ‘No, that’s not ok! You can’t do that!’. He laughed, he laughed along with hundreds of thousands of bigots who gleefully laughed, snickered and giggled at thought of shooting unarmed men, women, and children going through the legal process of presenting themselves for asylum. Time and time again Trump has revealed himself as racist, as a bigot and above all a white supremacist apologists and sympathizer. It is evident in past dealings dating back to at least the 1970s, it’s evident in his words and violent rhetoric, his policies, the people who have made-up and comprised his cabinet. And perhaps most of all it is made evident by his cowardice, reluctance and all-out refusal to condemn neo-nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists in both the past and present. And of course, his words and violent dangerous rhetoric have come with consequences; since being elected there have been multiple criminal cases involving white men where Trump’s name or violent rhetoric was invoked in direct relation with threats, acts of violence and assault. It’s no coincidence agencies like the Anti-Defamation League, have determined that far-right extremists were responsible for one hundred of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. since the end of 2017. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities have exploded since 2016 and are currently at unprecedented historic levels. And by accounts, Trump is not the slightest bit bothered by that; in fact, he revels in it and if anything it’s what keeps his bases amped up and energized.
The reality of the situation is so much of what we are experiencing right now is enshrined in white supremacy. From the rise of a bigoted, xenophobic, racist demagogue like Donald Trump to the white house, from the refusal to curtail the access to high capacity assault-style firearms that were designed as weapons of war, to the refusal to create a criminal terrorist watch list to monitor, intercept and criminally prosecute suspected neo-nazis, white nationalists and would be white supremacists terrorist. Even the simple act of acknowledging the undeniable fact that white men are buying assault weapons and committing mass murders has proved to be difficult task for both certain politicians and factions of the news media. Political leaders and news media alike almost immediately began rolling out tropes commonly used in past attack and shootings to mask and obscure the fact that this was indeed another white supremacist terrorist attack. Despite the shooter’s own explicit admission and damning manifesto designating himself as vile, unrepentant white supremacist; everything from mental illness, violent video games to even lack of prayer in public schools has been pushed to excuse or explain away his motivation regarding the deadly attack. The United States is under attack by white supremacist terrorism, goaded on by Trump along with his base that not only denies its existence but, actively and routinely empowers its foot-soldiers.
Of course, what we are seeing take place is nothing new. It may be occurring in greater frequency due to Trump’s pandering and radicalization of his white supremacist base, along with greater access than ever before to high capacity assault weapons in this country. But at its core, white supremacist violence is nothing new in this nation. Hardly more than two weeks ago, in San Ysidro, California, the border town marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the San Ysidro McDonalds massacre. A horrific event where on July 18th, 1984 in San Ysidro, CA. James Huberty, a white man, with a history of racism against Mexicans walked into a packed McDonalds on San Ysidro Boulevard and began shooting in a seventy-seven-minute killing spree. Huberty shot and killed twenty-one people (including five children) and injured nineteen others before he was eventually shot dead by a SWAT sniper. Almost all of Huberty’s victims were Mexican-Americans or Mexican Nationals and it should be noted that just like the attack in El Paso it was very much an anti-Mexican hate crime as well. So much gun and racial violence still continues to plague this country regularly to this day, it’s disturbing just how easily the tragedy in San Ysidro thirty-five years ago could have literally been pulled right out of today’s headlines. Until Monday the San Ysidro attack had remained the seventh deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history; until the death toll from the El Paso attack ticked up to twenty-two as two more victims succumbed to their injuries. Short of the fact that the two are separated by thirty-five years, the attacks and the motivation of anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic racial hatred underpinning them are damn nearly identical. So here we are now in 2019, thirty-five years later as hate crimes continue to explode under a Trump administration we are still routinely forced to deal with both the violence not only inflicted by white supremacy but gun violence on a nearly daily basis in this country. In fact, both gun and racially motivated violence, unfortunately, has only become even more commonplace in our deeply troubled and gravely ill society. I’m not going to lie, I don’t have all the answers. At times with so many horrible acts being committed in this country day in and day out it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Thirty-five years after this tragedy we should be able to say we are in a better spot as a nation, but we are not. Not even close, that just simply is not the reality we live in. We are living in a time where Mexicans, Chicanos, Hispanics, Latinos whatever term or identity you choose to ascribe to yourself; we are all under attack and run the risk of being targeted and attacked simply for our race and the color of our skin. When this racist, shooter began shooting inside the Wal-Mart in El Paso, he didn’t ask anybody about their immigration status. He never asked a single victim if they spoke Spanish or not. He never asked if they came to this country ‘the right way’. Their brown skin, their complexion, the fact they were Mexican, indigenous people was enough in his tiny, racist mind to deem them ‘invaders’ and therefore worthy of execution.
Often times I say we should look to the past for historical perspective, perhaps it is time to bring back the self-defense groups of the 1960s and 70s like the Brown Berets, The Young Lords, Black Panthers and other community defense groups back into our own mainstream lexicon. By their own empty words and telling lack of action, the government has made it abundantly clear does not care about our communities and will not treat this crisis with the seriousness and urgency that it desperately requires. They are not going to pass any meaningful gun reform laws. And, even if they did, it is highly likely that they will not lift a finger to monitor, counter or dismantle the white supremacist terror networks that are currently operating in this country. By all accounts it appears that this country’s leadership from top to bottom is not going to do a single thing about this tragedy or taking any meaningful steps to ensure that it never happens again; and from this point on it’s clear that we are going to have to be proactive and put our own self-defense measures in place to help combat this growing white supremacist threat.