Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, August 2019
A tale of three shootings within one week in U.S.
Within just 13 hours apart, two mass shootings took place—in El Paso, Texas Saturday and in Dayton, Ohio, early Sunday—leaving a total of 29 dead and 53 injured. The two mass shootings came less than a week of shooting at the Garlic Festival, Gilroy California, killing three people while the shooter was also killed.
Police say Connor Betts 24-year-old white man behind a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, killed his sister and eight others before he was fatally shot by police. Authorities say the shooter was killed by police less than a minute after he started shooting with a .223-caliber rifle into the streets of a popular Dayton nightlife area around 1 a.m. Sunday.
The bloodshed in Ohio unfolded just hours after 20 people were killed by a gunman, Patrick Crusius-21, who stalked a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. More than two dozen were injured.
Six days ago on Sunday, July 28, 19-year-old Santino William Legan opened fire at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, killing three and injuring 12 others. The shooter was killed by the police.
Motives behind the Dayton, Ohio killer are not clear. However motives of El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, and Gilroy, Santino William Legan are known.
Crusius posted a four-page manifesto on internet saying he was inspired by a manifesto written by the white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in March this year.
Tellingly, the Gilroy shooter Legan just before the shooting urged his Instagram followers to read a 19th century book "Might is Right" which is popular with white supremacists on extremist websites.
Manifesto of El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius
According to the Daily Beast, approximately 45 minutes before the first report of gunfire, a user on the forum 8chan announced that they were planning an attack, indicated that they were in Texas, and that they would use an AK-47—similar to the weapon photographed on the gunman—to carry out the attack.
The announcement was accompanied by an anti-immigrant manifesto that invoked white supremacist terms to justify violence against Hispanic people.
The author of the El Paso manifesto Patrick Crusius said to have been inspired by a manifesto written by the white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand in March this year.
John Earnest, the alleged attacker of a synagogue in Poway, California, in April this year also cited that manifesto. According to court documents in social media posts Earnest, 19, praised Tarrant’s hate-filled writings, writing “I’ve only read a little but so far he’s spot on with everything.” Earnest also said that “I think it’s important that everyone should read it,” referring to Tarrant’s racist manifesto.
Titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” the Patrick Crusius's manifesto is an anti-immigrant screed that takes particular aim at the Hispanic community and expresses support for the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter who opened fire at two mosques in March and killed 51 Muslims. “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto.
This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion,” begins the manifesto and includes lots of white supremacist language, such as claiming that the writer was “against race mixing.” It hardly seems a coincidence, then, that the shooting took place in El Paso, a city that is just across the border from Mexico.
Crusius argues: "Some people will think this statement is hypocritical because of the nearly complete ethnic and cultural destruction brought to the Native Americans by our European ancestors, but this just reinforces my point. The natives didn’t take the invasion of Europeans seriously, and now what’s left is just a shadow of what was. My motives for this attack are not at all personal. Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read The Great Replacement. This manifesto will cover the political and economic reasons behind the attack, my gear, my expectations of what response this will generate and my personal motivations and thoughts."
The Great Replacement is the title of Brenton Tarrant' manifesto. Tellingly, the Great Replacement echoes in slogan chanted during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017: “Jews will not replace us.”
Crusius manifesto also suggested that Democrats in the United States have a strategy to gain a permanent majority by embracing the growing Hispanic population, a notion that has gained currency on right-wing radio shows for years.
The manifesto said the gunman planned to use an AK-47-style rifle, which has been frequently used in mass shootings. The four-page document said politicians of both parties were to blame for the United States “rotting from the inside out,” and that “the heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold.”
The manifesto also railed against automation and embraced an argument familiar in anti-immigrant circles: that immigrants are taking jobs from “natives.”
“My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president,” the manifesto says.
Instagram posts before the Garlic Festival Shooting
On the day of the attack, Gilroy Garlic Festival Santino William Legan urged his Instagram followers to read a 19th century book popular with white supremacists on extremist websites. He also complained about overcrowding towns and paving open space to make room for "hordes" of Latinos and Silicon Valley whites. Legan posted a photo from the festival minutes before opening fire, saying, "Come get wasted on overpriced" items. His since-deleted Instagram account says he is Italian and Iranian.
"Might is Right," which was first published in the 1890s, is popular among white supremacists and viewed by some as a movement manifesto. It's available online on sites like Amazon.
Chapman University Sociology Professor Peter Simi was quoted by abc7news as saying it's popular with some far right groups. "It's long been a staple within the white supremacist movement," he explained. "It's part of a much larger set of propaganda literature that folks who identify with different aspects of white supremacist ideology will use as a way to reinforce and support their beliefs." The book lays out an amoral philosophy of survival of the fittest, arguing that war and violence are necessary to the natural order. "This notion of survival of the fittest, some individuals, some groups are essentially more fit for survival," Simi said. "They're biologically or culturally superior to other groups in their view."
The professor adds that "Might is Right" shares themes with similar books that celebrate lone-wolf style heroes. A vision that can draw in loners, and provide them with a dangerous sense of validation. "And so, for instance, white supremacists have promoted that lone individuals take essentially the law into their own hands and act violently," Simi said. "And they've been promoting that strategy for decades."
175 people killed worldwide in last eight years in white nationalist-linked attacks
Tellingly, according to the Guardian, in the past eight years, more than 175 people around the world have been killed in at least 16 high-profile attacks motivated, or apparently motivated, by white nationalist conspiracy theories, including the far-right racist belief that nonwhite immigrants and refugees are “invaders” who pose an existential threat to the white race.
The targets of deadly attacks have included Muslim worshippers at mosques in Canada, Britain and New Zealand; black Americans in church, including during Bible study at a historic black church in South Carolina; Jewish Americans in synagogues across the United States; and leftwing politicians and activists in the US, UK, Greece and Norway.
Trump says 'hate has no place in our country'
President Donald Trump Sunday denounced the two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, saying "hate has no place in our country."
Addressing reporters in Morristown, New Jersey, Trump said that "we're going to take care" of the problem.
The Associated Press said President Trump pointed to a mental illness problem in the U.S., calling the shooters "really very seriously mentally ill."
He said the problem of shootings has been going on "for years and years" and "we have to get it stopped."
President Trump ordered flags at half-staff in remembrance of the victims of two mass shootings in less than a day, which killed at least 29 people.
A proclamation released by the White House on Sunday says the nation shares "in the pain and suffering of all those who were injured in these two senseless attacks."
Democrats lay blame on Trump's rhetoric for shootings
Democratic presidential candidates sought to lay blame Sunday on President Donald Trump following a pair of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, saying his language against minorities promotes racial division and violence, the Associated Press reported.
"There is complicity in the president's hatred that undermines the goodness and the decency of Americans regardless of what party," New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said. "To say nothing in a time of rising hatred, it's not enough to say that 'I'm not a hate monger myself.' If you are not actively working against hate, calling it out, you are complicit in what is going on."
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said confronting white nationalist terrorism would be embarrassing for a president who "helped stoke many of these feelings in this country to begin with." "At best, he's condoning and encouraging white nationalism," Buttigieg said.
Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, also accused Trump of inciting hatred. Speaking to reporters outside a hospital where he was visiting victims of the shooting, O’Rourke said Trump had proven himself a racist with his recent attacks on four ethnic minority congresswomen and his past branding of Mexicans as rapists.
“He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country. And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence,” said O’Rourke, who represented El Paso in the US Congress until recently.
“We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals.”
Sen. Kamala Harris of California also blamed Trump's use of language, which she said has "incredible consequence." "We have a president of the United States who has chosen to use his words in a way that have been about selling hate and division among us," she told reporters in Las Vegas.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America.
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