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El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 23)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 22

There are now reportedly more ‘non-military’ government agents armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines. While Americans may have to face several increasing obstacles in order to own a gun, the government is arming its own civilian employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorising them to make arrests, and training them in military tactics. (T. Coburn and A. Andrzejewski, ‘Why does the [Internal Revenue Service] need guns?’, wsj.com, 17 June 2016).

Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armour, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and liquified petroleum gas cannons are the Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, Interanl Revenue Service, Food and Drug Administration, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities.

Why do police need armoured personnel carriers with gun ports, compact sub-machine guns with 30-round magazines, precision battlefield sniper rifles, and military-grade assault-style rifles and carbines? Of course, they do not!

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons have become routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarisation of law enforcement over the past several decades. Over the course of 30 years, police officers in jack boots holding assault rifles have become fairly common in small town communities across America.

Does this sound like a country under martial law? While it still technically remains legal for the average citizen to own a firearm in America, possessing one may end up being stopped, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without having committed a crime, shot at and killed by police.

One does not even have to have a gun or a look-alike gun, such as a ‘BB’ gun, which is a guns designed to shoot metallic ball projectiles called BBs, in one’s possession to be singled out and killed by police.

As J. W. Whitehead writes: “There are countless incidents that happen every day in which Americans are shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, or challenge an order.

Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something – anything – that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.”

And Whitehead supports his position by listing many examples of police over-reaction.

So much abuse passes for policing in America today, and it is only getting worse. In most cases, police could have resorted to less lethal tactics, could have acted with reason and calculation instead of reacting with a killer instinct. Indeed they could have attempted to defuse whatever perceived ‘threat’ caused them to fear for their lives enough to react with lethal force.

That police instead chose fatally to resolve these encounters by using their guns on fellow citizens speaks volumes about what is wrong with policing in America today, where police officers are being dressed in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon “every individual they interact with as an armed threat and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making.” (S. Stoughton, ‘Law Enforcement’s “Warrior” Problem,’ Harvard Law Review, 10 April 2015).

And Whitehead concludes: “”Remember, to a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. … Violence begets violence: until we start addressing the U.S. government’s part in creating, cultivating and abetting a culture of violence, we will continue to be a nation plagued by violence in our homes, in our schools, on our streets and in our affairs of state, both foreign and domestic.” (J. W. Whitehead, ‘Who inflicts the most gun violence in America? The U.S. Government and its police forces,’ Information Clearing House, 14 August 2019). Mr. Whitehead is the author of Battlefield America: The war On the American people, New York, N.Y. SelectBooks 2015.

Neo-Nazis are now selling the New Zealand shooter’s racist screed for $4 on Telegram. The manifesto which inspired El Paso is now a hardcover book.

Before a mass shooter killed 51 people and injured 49 others in two Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019, he released an 87-page racist screed – titled The Great Replacement – which quickly found its way onto 8chan before New Zealand authorities could shut it down.

Now, while the shooter remains in gaol, his writings are being sold as a hardcover book for $ 4 a copy on the anonymous messaging service Telegram by a neo-Nazi in Ukraine who hopes to spread the ideology off the Internet and across the Ukrainian-speaking world.

The shooter’s manifesto, cited as inspiration for the mass shootings at El Paso and at the Poway synagogue in California on 27 April 2019, as well as an attempted attack on a mosque near Oslo in Norway on 10 August 2019, was written in English and has been translated into a number of other languages, but the publisher of this version claims it is the only hard copy out there. By the end of August 2019 advertisements for the book started showing up on Ukrainian right-wing channels across Telegram.

The book is being sold by the administrator of a Ukrainian far-right channel on Telegram with more than 1,000 subscribers, called ‘Brenton Tarrant’s lads.’ The administrator goes by the name ‘Hitler Himself.’

The channel went on air on 17 March 2019, two days after the Christchurch shootings. It openly glorifies the manifesto and the shooter with various white-power memes, videos, and images explicitly encouraging violence against Jews and people of colour. The channel also features original lyrics and links to songs found on SoundCloud – a European online audio distribution platform and music sharing website based in Berlin, Germany which enables its users to upload, promote, and share audio, all of which aims to expand the ‘white power movement’.

“I do not make money on this. If someone doesn’t have shekels to spare – take the layout and print this out on your own, not a problem,” the channel administrator wrote. “The idea is to give paper versions to everyone in a row, on birthdays, wedding anniversaries and baptisms of children. In the first place, the inhabitants, to open their eyes to our cruel world.”

The latest posts on the Telegram channel include PDF attachments of a letter that the Christchurch shooter was able to send out of a high-security prison in New Zealand to someone in Russia. It praises Russia and encourages violence.

The producer of The Great Replacement hardcover and administator of the channel refused to be interviewed, saying that he was not interested in answering questions to a “kike journalist” who worked for a “lie-production factory.”

The New Zealand manifesto has been cited as inspiration for a number of recent mass shootings. The latest in a succession of extremists to reference the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto was a Norwegian white nationalist who attempted to start a massacre in a mosque on 10 August 2019 in Oslo.

That was just a week after Crusius, the killer in El Paso, wrote in his own manifesto: “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” And he proceeded to kill 22 people. The young man who opened fire at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California on 27 April 2019 also made reference to the New Zealand shooter, and cited the 27 October 2018 Tree of Life – or L’Simcha Congregation synagogue shooting in a neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – and Hitler, of course.

All three aggrieved ‘white nationalists’ believe in the process of ‘white replacement’, or the idea that all white people are being ‘replaced’ by immigrants from non-white countries, either by birth rates or immigration, and that some entity or organisation has deliberately planned for this replacement to take place. Invariably, the ‘white nationalists’ place the blame on Jews.

Anders Behring Breivik , since 2017 legally Fjotolf Hansen, the Norwegian who killed 77 people in Oslo in 2011 and left a 1,500-page screed expressing a fear of ‘white ethnic replacement’ by migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, is cited as the Christchurch shooter’s biggest inspiration. But besides inspiring the manifesti of ‘white supremacist’ shooters, the rambling document has been quietly spreading through ‘white supremacy’ and neo-Nazi Internet communities around the world.

The administrator of the Christchurch shooter’s channel, shortly after setting up the channel and congratulating his white brothers, outlined his intentions: “I was inspired by the Brenton Tarrant manifesto to create this channel, after reading which I decided to translate it and spread the manifesto and everything related to it.” he wrote.

The first mention of a planned printed version of the book came on 14 May 2019. Shortly after, the administrator explained that he had found a publisher willing to print it. By the third week of June, the first samples of the Ukrainian translation of ‘The Great Replacement’ had been printed. The administrator claimed that the organisation was not interested in profiting from the sales but just wanted the manifesto’s ideas to be spread.

An advertisement for the hard copy of the book

By the end of June, pictures of the book placed next to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, drawings of swastikas, and semi-automatic rifles began to surface on the channel.

The administrator of the Telegram page uploaded a picture of books with the hard-copy version of The Great Replacement in Ukrainian standing in front of a poster of Hitler and adjacient to Mein Kampf

Once, the administrator uploaded a photograph of “the happy owners of the first copy” of the Ukrainian version. The photograph features seven men dressed in what looks like military attire, each holding a hardcover copy, and some holding their hands up in the Sieg Heil! salute.

On another occasion, the administrator boasted that a foreign reader had just ordered the book. On 9 August 2019, he announced that he had sent eight copies out in one day.

Bellingcat, an investigative journalism website of very questionable reputation, also found advertisements for the hard copy on another Ukrainian Telegram channel belonging to Karpatska Sich, a group of fighters who presently define themselves as “a right-wing nationalist movement whose fighters are united by the common ideas of the national revival of Ukraine and a powerful traditionalist Europe.” The Karpatska Sich was formed in November 1938, and collaborated with the Nazis during the second world war. It remains a ‘nationalist’ formation.

“We urge all sincere nationalists to purchase the only available Ukrainian translation of the manifesto of the hero of national resistance, Brenton Tarrant,” the group posted after the El Paso massacre. “He, along with like-minded men, launched a desperate attack on aliens in New Zealand in their temple, which resulted in the murder of many dozens of uninvited aliens.” (V. Kipnis, ‘Neo-Nazis are selling the New Zealand shooter’s racist screed for $ 4 on Telegram’, The manifesto that inspired El Paso is now a hardcover book,’ VICE, 20 August 2019).

 

* 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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