By Europaeus *
Continued from Part 3
The El Paso shooter (Patrick Crusius) performed with words to justify his actions, a split performance prefacing his deed: a reactionary rant against migrants which is patched with comments on important issues of the day. Then he has fifteen minutes of a Reality TV star. His ‘hero’ is Trump – essentially a TV man as defined by Sean Illing: “Trump’s a TV man; he understands the landscape. He knows interesting is preferable to informed or reasonable or lucid. Which is why he eschews talking points or scripts and instead riffs on stage like a stand-up. Trump’s free-wheeling approach means he could say literally anything at any moment, and that’s the kind people want to watch.”(S. Illing, ‘Donald Trump is a fraud: Report confirms the billionaire’s presidential bid is a long and calculated con job’, salon.com, 02 February 2016).
Crusius is white and his manifesto reveals that he is an ‘America First’ nationalist. His rant is against recent Hispanic “invaders,” though curiously not long time legal residents. The non-whites who have helped build America are not his target. His allegiance is with the Christchurch shooter’s notion of “replacement,” the threat of ethnic cultures from elsewhere overcoming and weakening the existing, ‘real-American’ residents. So something went wrong when the Europeans invaded and destroyed Native American culture and he sides with it against the white “invaders.” These “invaders” of course are now the privileged, locally-born residents! But he does not want this to repeat since he is against “race-mixing,” which destroys genetic diversity, creates identity problems, and invites the stronger cultures to overtake the weaker. He therefore supports a confederation of ethnic tribes into some mysterious formula of segregated coexistence.
Crusius echoes President Trump’s language, itself an echo of a long trail of screeds. The invaders need to be “removed,” and ‘whites’ need to “get rid of” the illegals already in the United States so that “our way of life can become more sustainable.” There are too many bodies to be absorbed into the mix, a problem compounded by the oncoming displacement from automation. He contends that if there were fewer people in the United States there would be a better market for workers – a tangent from President Trump’s “America First” imaginary. Crusius is also a fan of the “fake news” concept, claiming that the media will blame him for being influenced by Trump and racism, even though he is not. But his pre-processed answers are perhaps the equivalent of tweeting a welter of conflicting claims which finally only question the sender’s motives.
A significant segment of the media has reported endlessly about the dreadful border conditions and how people are treated so horrifically as virtual prisoners, but the drumbeat of “invasion” from many conservative outlets transforms this problem into something different. “Invasion” can certainly inspire a call to arms. During the last nine months the Trump campaign has “posted more than 2,000 ads on Facebook that include the word ‘invasion’.” These were specifically targeted immigration spots, costing $1.25 million (J. St. Clair, ‘Roaming charges,’ CounterPunch, 8 August 2019).
Crusius said that he is no fan of either the Democrats or Republicans. The former swell their base with the invading hordes of migrants – which have close to the highest birth rate – to secure a permanent “one party state” while evading the ‘real-Americans’ real problems. The latter are too friendly with corporations which willingly absorb migrants to the detriment of those already in the United States who have a difficult time competing. He seems to be suggesting that the two are in a secret agreement. And clearly the Democrats are hardly super-critical of corporate America. The Republicans bring in the unskilled and flood the market with new bodies to the detriment of those already in the United States and their progeny, who will go to college and secure the means to succeed in corporate America. These unskilled newcomers and their skilled successors will “replace” those already in the United States, the previously migrated, those struggling to pay back student loans and facing a struggle for survival. Poverty and displacement will be the result, even civil unrest.
The takeover of America by “unchecked” corporations is a strong theme in Crusius’ document. In his view their over-expansion of consumer culture is responsible for urban sprawl and excessive waste, as well as environmental degradation. Regarding the latter, one can perhaps see the influence of eco-fascism. (N. Lennard, ‘The El Paso Shooter Embraced Eco-Fascism,’ The Intercept, 5 August 2019; see also: J. Sparrow, ‘El Paso shooting and the rise of eco-fascism’, Eureka Street, 7 August 2019). Crusius sounds like a progressive, but then claims that this expansion is integrally related to the self-propelling increase in migrants. The corporations need them for markets. So he justifies targeting innocent people in 81 per cent Hispanic El Paso to start the removal as if this might reverse some sort of chain migration.
Is Crusius a ‘white male’ who believes that he is supreme or one who imagines a kind of perverse catch up through a symbolic levelling of competition? Is he merely suffering from a crippling inferiority complex and lashing out with simple, sub-premacy speculations, particularly a Malthusian misread of demographics? Crusius heard everywhere that ‘white supremacy’ is everywhere, so he wanted to join the parade, borrowing whatever snips of ideology which worked.
Crusius would not likely be a candidate for writing the next serious manifesto for the ‘white nationalists’ who have been shadowing the system since they took the baton from the terrorists of the 1970s, groups which mimicked the Weather Underground, rainbow internationalists reigning supreme over the values of community, equality and anti-capitalism. The right wing groups thrived in the 1980s, especially in the late decade, and most prominently in the President Clinton 1990s. But the biggest spike was between 2000 and 2010 when they grew from 602 to well over 1,000 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. And they have been growing ever since, spiking again at the end of the Obama Administration, from late 2014 into 2015 (M. Potok, Intelligence Report, 4 March 2013, and 17 February 2016). They have become a mainstream presence since President Trump’s emergence, many seeing him as their “glorious leader.” (Y. Bayoumy and K. Gilsinan, ‘A reformed white nationalist says the worst is yet to come,” The Atlantic, 8 August 2019).
The persistence and growth of these groups can be correlated with the steady decline of liberalism – underway for some time now – as a countervailing force. And right-wing extremism is on the rise internationally. However one values the elements of Crusius’ conflicting script, the tragedy is that his actions and notoriety will likely help recruit more for the ‘white nationalist’ cause, especially given the media publicity that he received.
If one can isolate parts of the manifesto which make some sense in the present, chaotic, socio-economic and political climate and suspend the migrant rant for a moment, it is difficult not to see this truncated critic as a stand-in for the population disenfranchised in the wake of the so-calle Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Crusius was perhaps ‘a loser’ even before he crossed the line, but he is very concerned about his generation, expressing the fears of many millennials over the past several years about employment and their future prospects. The rural Neo-Nazi skinheads in the 1990s expressed similar fears of being left behind in the march of progress. Is Crusius’ imagined group made up by those forgotten by the Democrats, part of their long-term abandonment of whites and the white working class? One of the big reasons why Trump won in 2016 is because he captured this group. Has Crusius perhaps now melted down from a disillusioned Trump supporter?
Severe inequities can transform victims into supporters who blindly follow leaders or, “a carapace, a flag of convenience,” as the columnist Ross Douthat suggests, since Crusius seems to pay allegiance to few. He is apparently his own leader, and on par with governments. If government can commit mass murder so easily, he claims, then why not he ? After all, he has been endowed with authority to save America by the Founding Fathers ! This is megalomania to the extreme.
To red-flag these looming threats will involve much more than monitoring groups from the far right fringe. One needs to seek out the pockets of perverse socialisation which are producing these scavengers and learn what transforms them from simmering anti-social victims of something amiss in American society into causes. As Dr. Cornel Ronald West, the American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual, claims, the racism one is seeing expressed is a horror in itself but one needs to grasp how it is produced and amplified through various institutions in order to eventually root it out (Democracy Now!, 2 August 2019).
And above all one needs to find out what vaults these loners onto the stage of history to validate their fantasies instead of conversing with the stream of difference. If only Crusius had perfected his writing skills and been more active to expand and improve society. (J. O’ Kane, ‘Supreme nihilism: The El Paso shooter’s manifesto,’ Information Clearing House, 20 August 2019).
In the immediate aftermath of the El Paso shooting – the largest massacre of Latino people in the history of the United States – politicians of all stripes stood before the cameras and offered their diagnosis of what just happened. They sounded like the proverbial blind men who touched one part of the elephant and confused the different fragments for the whole. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican who once praised the ‘freedom fence’ for keeping out ‘riff raff’’, emphasised that the atrocity was committed by an outsider. Other voices blamed mental health, video games, and the lack of gun control laws.
But these diagnoses went looking only at the symptoms. Before one knows how to fight back effectively against ‘white supremacist’ terrorism one must know exactly what one is up against. History offers an important instrument to determine the root causes of what one may characterise as a deadly epidemic.
Crusius’ chilling manifesto tapped into entrenched narratives with deep roots in the history of the United States-Mexico border. It is unlikely that the 21-year-old from Allen, Texas knew just how utterly repetitive his words and actions were. Crusius most likely would not know that the height of Texas Ranger violence against Mexicans occurred from 1915 to 1919, with some 300 ethnic Mexicans murdered between 1915 and 1916 alone.
Crusius wrote that he was protecting ‘whites’ in America from “cultural and ethnic replacement” brought on by “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He claimed that “Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs.”
According to one witness, as Crusius gunned down people in each aisle he allowed anyone who “didn’t look Mexican” to walk away unharmed. Individuals with brown skin had no such pass. It did not matter to Crusius whether his targeted victims had legal papers or on what side of the barbed-wire fence they were born. He could not have cared less whether the Mexican nationals among the 22 people he murdered had permits to shop in the United States.
The manifesto explains why distinctions of legal status were irrelevant to him: “Even though new migrants do the dirty work, their kids typically don’t. They want to live the American Dream which is why they get college degrees and fill higher-paying skilled positions.” In other words, brown people with college degrees threaten the racial purity of white America.
Crusius would not know that, during the American eugenics movement of the early 20th century, more than 60,000 people were forcibly sterilised in government-run programmes.
Crusius’ manifesto is fully immersed in ‘alt-right’ writings of individuals and groups who claim to be fighting against The Great Replacement, as one of their leaders calls the purported threat of ‘white genocide’ ‘around the world. Followers of this conspiracy theory aim to create a neo-fascist ‘ethno-state’ where at least 90 per cent of inhabitants are ‘white’. Their proposed programme is to be carried out by draconian border enforcement measures which will deter future migration, mass deportations, the revocation of birthright citizenship, and the purging of non-white children – who represent the greatest threat to the disappearance of the ‘white race’. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, massacres like the one in El Paso are part of a strategy these extremist groups call ‘accelerationism’: the idea that the deliberate spread of terror is necessary for the elimination of non-whites from the United States.
But historians know that these proposed measures for the racial purification of the nation, enforced by violence, are by no means new. In the early 20th century, the American eugenics movement called for the exclusion and elimination of ‘non-whites’, undesirable ‘aliens’, and those deemed genetically inferior from the United States through draconian immigration restrictions, incarceration, urban removal, miscegenation laws, and scientific baby contests. More than 60,000 people were forcibly sterilised in government-run programmes. These calls for the creation of a genetically superior race were by no means part of a fringe movement. They were prevalent among the American élite. (See, for instance: A. DenHoed, The Forgotten Lessons of the American Eugenics Movement,’ The New Yorker, 27 April 2016).
One of the most influential American racial hygienists was Madison Grant, author of the 1916 book Passing of the Great Race: Or the racial basis of European history, New York, N.Y., C. Scribner’s Sons). He wrote: “The Mexican Indian has no racial qualities to contribute to the United States population that are now needed.” He recommended that Mexicans “should be deported as fast as they can be located and funds made available” despite the likelihood that “a storm of protest will arise from the radicals and half-breeds claiming to be Americans, who will all rush to the defense of their kind.”
Along the United States-Mexico border, these proposals to exclude people deemed ‘genetically unfit’ left a long and pernicious legacy. In 1917 U.S. public health officials began disinfecting all Mexican border crossers at the Santa Fe International Bridge at the El Paso-Juárez border with highly noxious pesticides including kerosene, and during the next decades, D.D.T. and Zyklon B.
In 1937, the use of Zyklon B, or hydrogen cyanide, as a fumigation agent on the southern border inspired Dr. Gerhard Friedrich Peters to call for its use in Nazi Germany. Peters wrote an article for the German pest science journal Anzeiger für Schädlinskunde, which included two photographs of El Paso delousing chambers. He used the El Paso example to demonstrate how effective Zyklon B was as an agent for killing unwanted pests. Dr. Peters became the managing director of Degesch, one of two German firms which acquired the patent to mass-produce Zyklon B in 1940. During the second world war, the Germans would use Zyklon B in concentrated doses in the gas chamber to exterminate millions of people the Nazis considered subhuman ‘pests’, literally Ungeziefer = vermin.
Nazi eugenicists paid close attention to other American practices as well. One of them was the forced sterilisation laws in California which were applied against an estimated 20,000 women of Mexican and Native American descent and other ethnic minorities between 1920 and 1964. These served as models for Germany’s forced sterilisation law, which went into effect on 1 January 1934.
Continued tomorrow … (Part 5)
* 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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