By Europaeus *
Continued from Part 1
Americans struggle to come to terms with the country’s original racism at a time of weaponised ‘white supremacy’, when domestic terrorism with a white male face poses the greatest threat to their lives. Home-grown ‘white nationalists’ account for most of the terrorist violence and most of the 850 domestic terror cases federal authorities are investigating.
Right-wing extremists are infiltrating law enforcement and the military and obtaining paramilitary training. However, in a racist, Islamophobic society in which white men dominate federal investigations and media coverage, terrorism is rendered a colour-coded endeavour in which only darker people, Muslims and foreigners get involved.
In addition, a white nationalist president has repeatedly incited racial violence against Latino immigrants, Muslims, Jews, black people and others. President Trump – who has eliminated funding to counter ‘white supremacist’ violence – has promoted policies to capitalise on white fear of replacement by ‘people of colour’. He inspires his followers to commit acts of violence and mass murder against such groups in the streets. (D. A. Love, ‘Mass shootings: The most American way to kill and die’, aljazeera.com, 9 August 2019).
Gun Violence Archive – G.V.A. is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. G.V.A. collects, and checks for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then posts and disseminates it online.
Recent data are as follows:
Number of incidents 34,991
Number of death 9,229
Number of injuries 18,395
Number of children (age 0-11) killed or injured 419
Number of teens (age 12-17) killed or injured 1,921
Mass shootings 261
Officers shot or killed 200
Subject-suspect shot or killed 1,267
Home invasions 1,097
Defensive use 943
Unintentional shootings 997
Such gun violence and crime incidents are colleted/validated from 6,500 sources daily; incidents and their sources data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website. (Data validated on 16 August 2019, www.gunviolencearchive.org, D. A. Love, the author, is a Philadelphia-based freelance journalist and commentator).
President Trump condemned the El Paso shooting as hateful and cowardly. He promised that his administration would provide “total support”. In a later statement, President Trump announced that all U.S. flags, both at home and abroad, would be flown at half-staff until sunset on 8 August. In a speech from the White House on 5 August, President Trump said: “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.” (‘Trump: US must condemn white supremacy’, B.B.C., 5 August 2019).
On 7 August President Trump said that he was “concerned about the rise of any group of hate”, whether it was “white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy, whether it’s antifa.” (C. Riotta ‘Why Trump’s plan to label antifa a terrorist group is little more than ‘political theatre’, The Independent, 7 August 2019).
Within two days of the massacre, #WhiteSupremacistInChief reached the number one trend on Twitter as critics pointed out that statements in Crusius’ manifesto mirrored comments that President Trump had made in the past, including references to illegal immigration as an “invasion” and calls to “send [them] back”. Media outlets also highlighted an incident in May 2019 where an audience member at a campaign rally suggested shooting illegal migrants crossing the border, to which President Trump responded with a joke. (A. Hutzler, ‘#WhiteSupremacistInChief tops Twitter trends to condemn Donald Trump after El Paso, Dayton shootings’, Newsweek, 5 August 2019; L. King, ‘A cultural reckoning over a president’s language as critics tie shooting to hateful rhetoric’, Los Angeles Times, 5 August 2019). However, Crusius’ manifesto stated that his opinions predate Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and that he did not want President Trump to be blamed for his attack. (Y. Abutaleb, ‘What’s inside the hate-filled manifesto linked to the alleged El Paso shooter’, The Washington Post, 4 August 2019) Former President Barack Obama broke his self-imposed vow of silence on the new president’s leadership to release a statement. In it he said: “We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” This has widely been interpreted as a criticism of President Trump’s specific rhetoric. (P. LeBlanc, ‘Obama ures Americans to reject language from leaders that ‘normalizes raist sentiments’ in pointed statement’, C.N.N. Facebook post, 5 August 2019).
U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, brought a town hall meeting in the city to an early close following the massacre. (D. Siders and C. Vasquez, ‘ ‘The numbers are going up’: unfolding El Paso massacre stuns Dem presidential forum’, Politico, 3 August 2019). Ms. Escobar later said that there was also a hate epidemic, with domestic terrorism resulting from the dehumanisation of others. Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a written statement deploring “this unspeakable evil”. (J. Aguilar and B. Blanchard, ‘Gov. Abbott: 20 dead in mass shooting at El Paso Walmart’, The Texas Tribune, 3 August 2019).
Texas Senator John Cornyn said that gun violence would not be solved by focusing on law-abiding citizens. (‘Congress rarely acts on gun control despite mass shootings’, C.N.N., 4 August 2019) Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said violent video games were partly to blame. (J. Baragona, ‘Republican politicians hit Fox News to blame video games for latest mass shootings’, via thedailybest.com, 4 August 2019).
Several Democratic 2020 presidential election candidates called for political action to eliminate gun violence. The shooting also caused many celebrities and media figures to debate gun rights within the United States, with some condemning the perceived inaction of many political figures in stopping the large number of mass shootings in the country. (S. Dorman, ‘Senseless and horrific’; celebrities call for gun control, decry political inaction after El Paso shooting’, Fox News, 3 August 2019). Moms Demand Action, which had a meeting planned in Washington, D.C., led a march and vigil outside the White House in support of gun control in the United States and the ban of assault weapons. (J. Rodriguez, ‘Moms Demand Action’ group protests at White House after El Paso shooting‘, C.T.V. News, 4 August 2019).
In response to the shooting, some 8chan users claimed that the shooter was “our guy”. The manifesto of the shooter, which had been deleted, was re-uploaded by some users, while others commented that it showed “zero effort”, or claimed that it was fake. (R. Evans, ‘The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror’, Bellingcat, 4 August 2019).
President Trump visited El Paso and Dayton on 7 August, intending to comfort those close to the victims and thank first responders. The President and First Lady also met with the mayors of El Paso (D. Borunda, ‘Live updates: President Donald Trump leaves U.M.C. El Paso after visit with patient families-2:53 p.m. Mayor Margo, Trump speak’, El Paso Times, 7 August 2019) and later of Dayton. (R. Morin, ‘ ‘Oh well’: Dayton mayor confused by Trump’s criticism of how she described his visit’, U.S.A. today, 7 August 2019) In El Paso, protesters showed up at the site of the massacre, with many disapproving of the visit and some claiming that Trump’s attitude and statements had led to the shooting. (S. Romero and R. Rojas, ‘Trump comes to console. El Paso says no thanks’, The New York Times, 7 August 2019; ‘Was Trump’s El Paso visit a turning point?,’ The New York Times, 8 August 2019). The White House published photos and a video of President Trump’s trip; in some photos, he was pictured smiling and giving thumbs up gestures, while the video was focused on Trump shaking hands and posing for photos. (A. Parker, P. Rucker, J. Johnson and F. Sonmez, ‘Trump attacks local leaders as he visits two cities grieving from mass shootings’, The Washington Post, 8 August 2019; ‘Self-promotion: Trump boasts of rally crowd size during hospital visit to console Texas massacre survivors’, Agence France Press, 9 August 2019) President Trump said that he had an “amazing day” of visits, praising the “love, the respect for” him as president. (M. Crowley, M. Haberman, M. Smith and M. Shear, ‘Trump uses a day of healing to deepen the nation’s divisions’, The New York Times, 7 August 2019).
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador extended his condolences to the families of the victims, both Americans and Mexicans. López Obrador also criticised the “indiscriminate use of weapons” in the United States. (‘Mexico F.M. says El Paso shooting ‘terrorist’ act’, France 24, 5 August 2019). The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcel Ebrard identified the eight Mexican citizens killed, and the seven Mexican citizens wounded, in the attack. The Mexican victims had come from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua Municipality, and Torreón, Coahuila. (‘Juarense resultό herida en tiroteo’, El Diario de Juárez, 3 August 2019).
Javier Corral Jurado, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, just across the Rio Grande, offered his assistance to Texas governor Greg Abbott and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, and said that Chihuahua authorities were ready to assist in any capacity if needed by the U.S. government. The Chihuahua government also directed Chihuahua residents and Mexican citizens affected by the attack to Mexico’s Executive Committee for Victims, and set up a phone line for Mexican citizens who needed assistance. The Mexican Consulate in El Paso provided consular assistance to Mexican nationals affected by the attack, and sent personnel to visit Mexican victims treated at the hospitals. The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the consul Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León would coordinate with El Paso and Ciudad Juárez officials. (‘Consulado de México busca a mexicanos en hospitals tra tiroteo’, El Sol de México, 3 August 2019).
On 4 August the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs announced that Mexico would issue formal charges against Crusius for terrorism against Mexican nationals should Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office support them, and possibly request Crusius’ extradition from the United States to Mexico to face those charges. Were Crusius to be charged with terrorism, it would be the first time in history that Mexico issues a criminal charge of this nature for a crime committed in the U.S. In addition, it would guarantee Mexico access to information about the case. (M. B. Sheridan, ‘Lόpez Obrador says seven Mexicans among the dead in El Paso, plans legal action to protect Mexicans in the U.S.’, The Washington Post, 4 August 2019). Mr. Ebrard also stated that the Mexican government would remain in contact with the victims’ families throughout the investigation and trial, and that they would press charges against the individual(s) or firm who sold the weapons to Crusius. (‘Mexico to pursue legal action after seven citizens killed in El Paso shooting’, The Guardian, 5 August 2019) Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón offered his condolences on Twitter, and also directed a message against Trump. He said that whether the attack was confirmed to be a hate crime or not, President Trump should stop his “hate speech” and “stigmatization”.
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned “in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against Latinos … in the Texas city of El Paso” and called for everyone to work together to combat violence born of hate, racism and xenophobia. Recently the U.N. has launched an action plan “to fight against discourses that incite hatred.”
Several South American countries issued travel warnings to avoid certain United States cities, including Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis and Oakland, citing “proliferation of acts of violence” and “growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes, including racism and discrimination.” They warned their citizens to avoid any place with large crowds, including shopping malls, festivals, and “any kind of cultural or sporting events.” (‘Venezuela, Uruguay warn against travel to U.S. cities following mass shootings’, Global News, 6 August 2019) Japan and other organisations issued a similar travel warning, advising its citizens to pay attention to the potential for gunfire “everywhere”in the U.S., which they described as a “gun society.” (‘Gun violence in America prompts Amnesty International and a growing list of countries to issue travel warnings’, The Washington Post, 12 August 2019) President Trump threatened undefined retaliation against countries and organisations which issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence. (D. Jackson, ‘Trump threatens to retaliate against countries like Japan, Uruguay that issued travel warnings’, U.S.A. today, 12 August 2019).
Continued tomorrow … (Part 3)
* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.
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