On Saturday 3rd August, the toll of mass shootings in the United States of America increased to a devastating 254 when twenty-two innocent civilians were brutally shot and killed at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas – reports the Independent. One day after this attack, some 13 hours later, nine people were shot and killed near a bar in Dayton, Ohio. According to the non-profit organization, Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the U.S.A., the toll now rests at 255. The far-right terrorist responsible for the El Paso shooting was named as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius. Police believe that this man was responsible for a manifesto published online just before he carried out the attack, describing the shooting as “[…] a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” – reports The Independent.
As witnessed by the overwhelming number of mass shootings in America, these terrorist attacks are unfortunately not uncommon, and with far-right political ideology becoming increasingly popular across our globe, the obscene, warped ideas behind Crusius’ attack are unfortunately not rare. However, what is unparalleled is the blatant racism, hate and far-right rhetoric expressed by arguably the most powerful man in the world: the President of the United States of America. Donald Trump continues to fuel hate, ignite hostility and segregate and marginalize members of society that do not fit his ‘make America great again’ image. Fernando Garcia, the founder and executive director of the Border Network, spoke to The New Yorker and said, “racism has a name, and that name lives in the White House. That name is Donald Trump. His rhetoric brought this violence to El Paso”.
Numerous people and news outlets have named Trump as an accomplice to the El Paso shooting, due to an epidemic of hateful, far-right ideology that he stokes. Therefore, it needs to be asked what exactly he has said, and how is it so devastatingly perilous to the country dubbed ‘the free world’. For the past four years, Trump has created his own manifesto to dehumanize the lives of migrants, especially those of Mexican and Central American descent. He has riled up his supporters to create a deadly societal fear of immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants – reports NBC. He uses Twitter as a platform to broadcast this hate, with him tweeting in June of 2018, “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order.” It is inexplicable that Trump is so very blatant with his racism and xenophobia, both online via Twitter and during speeches he gives at his rallies.
On 15th February last year, he said: “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs […]”. Additionally, on 30th May, he read a statement that said, “[…] America has been invaded by hundreds of people coming through Mexico entering our country illegally, […] this sustained influx of illegal aliens has profound consequences on every aspect of out national life, draining our welfare system and causing untold amounts of crime […]” – reported by NBC. These words find greater reach thanks to the global platform of Twitter and his allies working at Fox News, and members of his administration. When you read these words, that have clearly been said/written with passion and vigour, it becomes increasingly harder to argue that Donald Trump is not the architect for the abhorrence against immigrants and Mexican citizens, and that people riled up by his words are not united to form a confederate far-right extremist ideology.
In addition to his Twitter tirades, he wants to further segregate immigrants and Mexican citizens by building a physical barrier between Mexico and the U.S. to prevent people from crossing over it illegally. Building a wall was one of his key promises when he was campaigning to become President. When Trump was once questioned about the morality of the wall he said, “some have suggested that a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, gates and fences around their home?” – reported by the BBC. This comment is not only highly elitist, but it again dehumanizes Mexican citizens and immigrants who are told they are not worthy of protection, fair treatment and basic human dignity. They are continually demoralized, allowing for a far-right rhetoric to glare through, allowing for people such as Patrick Crusius to act upon their warped, depraved philosophies and massacre people not part of their vision of America, assented by the President.
USA today reported that in May of this year, Trump was speaking at one of his rallies in Florida when he was bemoaning the legal protection afforded migrants, when he asked the question, “How do you stop these people?” Someone from the Panama City Beach crowd shouted, “shoot them!” The remark drew a laugh from the President, who said “only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement” – this comment was tailed off with laughs and cheers from the crowd. The man not discouraging the mention of repugnant violence against other human beings, is the man with all the power. The power to either ignite or discourage acts of violence, hate and barbarity. The comments and snickers seen at this rally here show that there is only one path down which this President has chosen to go.
Former El Paso congressman, and a Democrat seeking the 2020 nomination to take on Trump, Beto O’Rourke, spoke after the El Paso massacre and said, “we have a President right now who traffics in this hatred, who incites this violence, who calls Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’, who calls asylum seeker ‘animals’ and ‘an infestation’ – reported in The New Yorker. Donald Trump has undoubtedly amplified hate against Mexican immigrants and the people who are in the grip of this odious, extremist ideology feel validated from all the way to the top.
Although a measure of responsibility needs to lie with Trump, the lax gun control that exists throughout America due to the right to bear arms being protected by the Second Amendment in the Constitution is allowing guns to be bought, traded and sold far too easily. Former President, Barack Obama, released a statement following the two mass shootings over the weekend and said, “[…] no other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States. No other developed nation tolerates the level of gun violence that we do […]”. What is seen from various American political figures after mass shootings, is thoughts and prayers being sent to the family and friends of the victims, as we are often told that tougher gun laws will not prevent mass shootings. However, we have seen from places such as New Zealand after they agreed to change gun laws after the shooting at Christchurch, that positive change can be implemented. After the 2018 Parkland shooting, Trump did express a little interest in backing gun-control legislation, reports the BBC, however after meeting with NRA leadership he spoke at their annual convention and said, “[…] Second Amendment gun rights are under siege and I will always defend them as president”.
White supremacist terrorism is nothing new, however words and actions undertaken by Donald Trump are inviting intolerance against anyone not white. Society is becoming a more hateful and objectionable place with Trump being a manifestation of the ugliness that seeps through humanity. Trump did not physically give Patrick Crusius the gun that killed twenty-two people, but his blatant racist rhetoric allowed for a space for white nationalist extremists to manifest, amplifying hate that essentially led to twenty-two people being brutally murdered. Even if Trump does not win the 2020 election, his words and actions will have a lasting impact on families across America. Racism and bigotry have no place in politics and within our public sphere, and we must denounce any actions that fuel this behaviour. Donald Trump, the President of the United States, abetted Crusius with his warped ideologies against immigrants and Mexican citizens and until that ugliness and racist rhetoric is eradicated in the White House, change will be difficult to implement, and families will continue to be torn apart and murdered for the colour of their skin and the place in which they live.
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