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Not hate, but mainstream Republican fears of extinction drove El Paso killer

Beverly Crawford, Professor emerita, Political Science and International and Area Studies | August 17, 2019

Mitch“murders, murders, murders, killings, murders.”
Donald Trump, El Paso Texas, February 2019

While the media and the FBI treat the El Paso butchery as a “hate crime,” they both show their blindness to the real motives laid out clearly in brown and white—motives which might cause great discomfort for conservatives and liberals alike.

The media blames the murder on “white supremacy” but stops short of showing how white supremacy is deeply embedded in the actions and policies of the Republican party. The murder is called a “hate crime,” but nowhere did the murderer express hatred. Rather,  his screed—which he ironically calls “The Inconvenient Truth,” echoing Al Gore’s Oscar winning film, is soaked with fear of environmental collapse and permanent Democratic electoral victories.

According to the murderer’s logic and that of many Republican voters and their representatives, the Republican party can only be saved by reducing the number of immigrants in the U.S. Immigrants, they believe, will vote overwhelmingly Democratic, shoving them to the margins.  The killer however, goes even further, departing from his effort to save the Republican Party and siding with liberal environmentalists: environmental collapse is the second of his “inconvenient” fears.

El Paso Murderer

El Paso Murderer

But in his twisted logic, he claims that terrorizing immigrants will send them running “home” to Mexico and Central America, therefore relieving pressure on the fragile natural environment.  In the wake of this tragedy, we must continue to fight for a ban on assault weapons and campaign for real gun regulation, but we should also listen to the many Republican voices that both predate and repeat his message.

Mainstream Republicans across the country share this murderer’s terror that their party will become extinct because new minority voters will vote them out of office. Immigrants escaping poverty and persecution must go “home” and be locked out of the United States.

The murderer’s first “inconvenient truth” is that Democrats benefit from immigration. It is that benefit that lies behind Democrats’ pro-immigration stance. And he may be correct when he asserts that, Republican anti-immigrant rhetoric is driving them to the liberal side of the political spectrum. There, he fears, they will win election after election until the U.S. becomes a one-party “Democrat” State.

They will then change policy “to better suit the needs” of the Hispanic voting bloc.  Laura Ingram presaged his screed with a recent rant on Fox News that Democrats want to replace American voters with new immigrants. In her bestselling book Adios America Ann Coulter argues that the Democrats have a scheme to permit 30 million new liberal voters to come to the U.S.; their victory, she claims, will be the very loss of the (white) identity of the nation.

But it’s not just these far right pundits: In statehouses, town halls, and in the halls of congress Republicans have warned of a similar fate: Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen — speaking at a Republican event in July — worried about declining birth rates in the U.S. and feared that the United States was “going to look like South American countries very quickly.” Texas Representative Louie Gohmert compared Hispanic immigrants to an invading army; congressman Tom McClintock called them a military threat.

fearThese fear-driven elected officials cite crime, terrorism, drugs, and lack of assimilation, and an immigrant burden on the welfare system as reasons for their anti-immigrant stance, all of which have been disputed. Their dread of losing political ground to immigrants who will vote against them is largely unspoken. It is left to the killers and extremists to articulate for them.

Their silence about about gun control is not just subservience to the NRA but comes from knowing that the white nationalist murderers who are terrorizing Republican opponents are doing their dirty work for them, sending them away from the voting booths and away from the public eye.

White entitlement blinds them to their responsibility to protect all of their constituents, and their silence entitles and emboldens the shooters, who will certainly kill again. Their indifference to the costs of silence helps to mitigate their fear of extinction.

That fear is not so farfetched.

Although, according to Pew Research, a growing number of Hispanics have lost confidence in the Democratic Party since 2016, the El Paso murderer could have easily cited the case of California to make his point. Like Texas today, it was once a Republican stronghold, the home state of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

But by the mid-1990s, Democrats had become increasingly popular, particularly among the growing Hispanic electorate, and especially after Democratic candidates strongly opposed draconian Republican measures to cut public services to undocumented immigrants As Dan McLaughlin wrote in the National Review in January, “A growing faction on the right these days echoes the apocalyptic theme of many California conservatives, who experienced demographic replacement as an existential political crisis and saw mass immigration as a national emergency.”

What worried the El Paso murderer is that Texas appears to be on the same path as California. The Hispanic population in Texas increased from 9.7 million in 2010 to 11.1 million in 2017, while the white population grew by only about 500,000. In the 2018 election, a national Associated Press exit poll found that nearly 70 percent of Texas Latinos reported voting Democratic. The access to a deadly weapon allowed him to kill a few Hispanics in order to terrorize the rest.

Chillingly, the gunman justifies the murder of Hispanic immigrants with mainstream Republican panic about losing his white privilege to nonnative born people.  But nowhere in his 8-chan post does he use virulent racist language; nowhere does he demonstrate hatred; he claims that he was not even interested in targeting them until he read The Great Replacement, a tome that propagates the fear that corporate elites will benefit by replacing native populations with immigrants.

To justify his act of violence, he expands his historical frame of reference, cautioning that the Native Americans’ failure to repel the European invaders was their downfall, and they should have fought harder to avoid their fate of being “replaced” by the white immigrants.

The second “inconvenient truth” of his screed indicates a break with Republican ideology. Like many young people across the developed world, one of the El Paso shooter’s greatest fears is consumer waste, corporate exploitation of resources, and the unwillingness of Americans to make the necessary lifestyle changes to protect the environment.

His support of Republicans is therefore reluctant.  He marries his progressive-sounding environmentalism to his anti-immigrant stance: he blames big corporations who are plundering the earth’s resources and who are happy to welcome more consumers by inviting in more immigrants.

Because the murderer could not bring himself to kill his fellow American citizens, the next logical step, he says, would be to kill two birds with one stone:  reduce the number of people who use up our precious resources while reducing the number of people who will put the Democrats in power. Killing some Hispanics will strike fear in others, who, he believes, will willingly leave the U.S.  Walmart, the largest retail store in America with its thousands of Saturday morning consumers, was the perfect place to make this point

While the Texas murderer was a reluctant Republican (Republicans, he states, support big corporations who, in turn support immigration), white supremacist murderers are rapidly becoming the militant wing of the Republican Party, much like the KKK was the violent arm of Southern kkkDemocrats in the 20th Century. Republicans will disavow this statement as outrageous, especially as they continue to suppress the Brown and Black vote, remove legal protections against racial discrimination, clamor for a citizenship question on the national census that Commerce Secretary Ross stated would “hurt Democrats and help Republicans,” and fill prisons with people of color.

But this does not seem to be enough for them. When people of color are terrorized by white nationalist murderers, afraid, to go out, as The New York Times reported on August 6, and afraid to go to the polls, Republicans don’t need voter suppression; the murderers will do the job for them, and they keep their hands clean. They can remain fellow travelers of white supremacist killers while offering “thoughts and prayers,” shaking their heads, and expressing sadness at the tragic loss of life. And they oppose gun control, knowing full well that the reverberation of terror resulting from that loss of life is in their interest and will continue.

Trump’s first 2020 campaign rally was in El Paso.  There, referring to immigrants, he chanted “murders, murders, murders, killings, murders.” His chant was a prophecy: murder did come to El Paso, but murders committed to stop the dreaded immigrant “invasion” that Trump successfully incited his supporters to fear.  When he asked them at a Florida rally what should be done about that invasion, he simply smiled as they shouted “shoot them.” In El Paso, he and his fellow Republicans got their wish.

Comments to “Not hate, but mainstream Republican fears of extinction drove El Paso killer

  1. Bev Crawford’s important unveiling of Republican Party acquiescence to the murders of those who threaten their power is far broader than the examples she cites in the recent comments of Arizona, Texas and California Republican elected officials.

    An Ohio Republican state representative, Candice Keller, blamed mass shootings on ‘drag queen advocates,’ Colin Kaepernick, open borders and Obama” a few days after the shootings in Dayton.
    Previously, Keller spoke on a white power advocate’s radio show and pushed for banning sanctuary cities. She remains in office.

    A few years earlier, a prominent Indiana Trump supporter and Lucas Oil founder, Charlotte Lucas posted on Facebook she was “sick and tired of minorities running our country! As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think that atheists (minority), muslims (minority) or any other minority group has the right to tell the majority of the people in the United States what they can and cannot do here.
    Is everyone so scared that they can’t fight back for what is right or wrong with this country?”

    These mainstream Republicans make the same connections between Democrats, minorities and fear of their privileged life declining. Similarly, the deliberate targeting of African Americans in 2015 at the Charleston South Carolina church massacre, and of Jews at the Pittsburg synagogue shooting in 2018 and the Poway synagogue shooting in 2019 were all preceded by online postings that blamed minorities for marginalizing white lives.

    The mainstream Republican views about minorities, their silence about gun controls and white nationalism, and, concurrently, the identical published justifications for killing minorities by white nationalists, support Crawford’s evidence of Republican Party complicity in the persecution and death of minorities in our society.

  2. I remember the late 1950s early 1960s.

    1. You could buy (Military Semi-Automatic Rifles) like M1 Carbine, M1 Garand, other rifles, pistols, revolvers and ammunition thru the US mail. There were far fewer firearms regulation than there are today.

    2. There were far fewer mass shootings than there are today. The only mass shooting I recall occurred on Aug. 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed a 27-story tower on the University of Texas campus and started picking people off.

    3. The KKK and neo-Nazis were visible and active.

    4. There were more state-run Mental Institutions.

    5. Mentally ill were committed.

    • You are right that it takes a mentally unstable person to commit such a heinous act. But my article makes a completely different point. I am asking: who benefits politically, and who condones these acts by their silence and the absence of legislation to stop it? Focusing only on the mental state of the individual perpetrator is an attempt to excuse all who have incited this terrorism and all who condone it with their silence. Please read about the history and evolution of the NRA into an organization with a lobbying stranglehold on the Republican Party. Why not create a licensing system for guns like we have for drivers and cars? And what prevents such legislation? Were the people who lynched 4000 black people all mentally I’ll? Why did lynching almost completely stop? Please read the post carefully and respond to the points it makes rather than just restate your opinion that has nothing at all to do with what I have written. And if you want to make another comment, please respond to these questions.

  3. Beverly A short follow up to my last comment. YES The TV- Cable media is generally is too soft and not open enough on the Trump Party’s sick hand in glove relationship with white supremacy and superiority That definitely has ripple effect to the dumbing down of all of America. I’m an old Cape Codder who has none of your advanced intellect in certain areas. That’s a fact. BUT I love to learn from good folks like YOU! PS I didn’t know the Berkeley Blog existed till my life long buddy, Lloyd Rath, sent me your piece. Thanks Lloyd!

  4. Beverly The media FAILS to dissect and evaluate how the Republican Party( now nothing less then cult of trump party) has it’s actions and policies deeply embedded with the white supremacy ideology. The use of the word media is so ambiguous. What Media? I read newspapers from around the country and find that countless times the media that I observe expose the republican party for it’s obsession with maintaining white power in all it’s elements. Voter repression( directed at people of color period in every sickening way possible and wherever possible. The republican party controls a majority of state houses, and that’s one of their top priorities. The media that I review on line, national digital newspapers ect. certainly expose this DANGEROUS and non-stop obsession. And what is a hate crime, anyway. This pathetic troll I’m sure had more of a tad of hate in his twisted soul towards our brown brothers and sisters when he unloaded his clips, tragically, on so many innocent humans. However, I did truly appreciate your research and obvious thoughtful incite into the “heart” of the Republican SOULLESS policies throughout our very challenged land.

    • Jed I would like to know what media exposes the racist intent of the silence of the Republican party on these mass shootings.
      This challenge and your response would assist me as I further research this issue many thanks!

  5. Well! There’s absolutely NO opinionated Leftist agenda on THIS blog! Nope! Not a bit! NOPE! NOPE! (Wink/wink/nudge/nudge/say no more!)

  6. Berkeley, we have a problem.

    Washington is in political chaos that threatens our democracy, global warming is increasingly reducing our quality of life, fears are destroying all hope for equality, the power of money controls all social, political and economic groups, and our civilization appears to have no leaders that are able to meet challenges of change that can destroy life on earth.

    Pogo is still right “We have met the enemy and he is us” (First Earth Day 1970).

    And we are not even beginning to adapt in time:
    https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/september-october-2006-global-warning/can-we-adapt-time

    Does Berkeley have any solutions?

    • We are living in a worst case scenario where academics discuss and educate us about the history of humans murdering humans, about never-ending murders of innocent human beings, in classrooms, books, papers, columns, blogs, etc. ad nauseam, but they never come up with solutions we can implement today even though threats against our
      civilization are out of control.

      Intellectuals can’t even find a way to unite themselves into a group dedicated to the protection and perpetuation of an acceptable quality of life for the human race, thus our newest generations are at increasingly grave risk of extinction in this century.

  7. What an excellent analysis Beverly! You are so clear on how letting the emotion “hate” obscure all the actual political- manipulation history, bought media pounding drumbeat so in-line with corporate-takeover of education and Republican white-male-elite bullying rule, has worked to get exactly this type of outcome: replacing American’s deepest social values by frightened, hysterical and deep cognitive/emotional dissonance, now driving especially the young lost white male.

    Dismissing the El Paso shooter as just a “homicidal maniac” as the comment above does, works hard to deny all the other warnings that you so clearly raise in your piece. It is indeed more “mental illness” denial tropes, trying to hide how much mental illness has been rising in a country that deeply wants to believe pathological Patriarchy and white rule, slavery and disgust of all non-white immigrants OR Native Americans, is actually the way to “Make America Great Again”. That this painful racist, sexist history is what we should somehow either obscure or admire in a world that has moved far beyond that truer definition of actual societal evils to want to confront what kind of “values”, and thus leaders, are to actually be admired here?

    The El Paso shooter, despite his own emotional breakdown, tried very hard to determine where all the fear and anger he was being educated in (by clever media and rhetoric-supported ways to constantly trigger lower brainstem reactions to unresolvable threats) truly belonged? But he fell prey to the ubiquitous victim-message of the NRA and others, that the answer to these painful changes causing white male impotence and therefore acceptable rage, was the gun, the ultimate “Man Card” legitimacy of how to handle oneself in the Wild West of 200+ years ago — which was “great” for nearly no one.

    You are exactly right in pointing out the obvious, if one does the deconstruction work of who has been recently in charge of shaping America’s “values” and interestingly, economy of how those “values” play out for average Americans. It was clear to some of us that Trump, or someone else as pathologically venal, would be the logical and emotionally un-intelligent result of that advertised and taught message. The Billionaires, elite Republicans, and racist Right Nationalists wanted to replicate the white male pathologies of the past which meant you strutted around with your guns and shot anyone that got in your entitled path instead of out of your way. You are right, that “In El Paso, he and his fellow Republicans got their wish” just as they are making this into the country of their dreams, in which only they belong, should run and own.

    That’s a “mental illness” too — it’s called “megalomania: obsession with the exercise of power, especially in the domination of others.”

    • To: June Gorman

      Good evening, this is the voice of Enigma:
      In the next hour
      We will take you with us
      Into another world,
      Into the world of music, spirit and meditation
      Turn off the light,
      Take a deep breath
      And relax
      Start to move slowly,
      Very slowly
      Let the rhythm be your
      Guiding light

      • Don’t know if you meant it as a joke, but loved that!

        As I believe this is all really about a systematic teaching of “Emotional Stupidity” society wide – racism, sexism, homophobia, and most of all uncritical accepting of Patriarchal Religion and Rule — that does definitely call for “countering teachings” of Emotional Intelligence, and we actually know how to do that!

        Your example, joke or not, of spiritual health and mindfulness to get us out of society-destroying Hate rather than Love as the Ruling Spirituality/Moral Ethics/Value System is a beginning, but political action and calling out the correct systems analysis rather than blaming mentally ill individuals multiplying at exponential levels (wonder how a society contributes to that?) is even more effective. So thanks!

    • Dear June, thank you so much for your thoughtful reading of this piece and for your insightful comments. You are so right about the painful racist, sexist history that brought us to this point. And your articulation of the mental illness denial trope is so important. I would add that this society’s obsession with guns is a mental illness that the U.S. cannot shake loose. Thank you so much again. You have brought my thinking further!

  8. Anyone who commits mass murder is mentally ill. They are “Homicidal maniacs”.

    “Homicidal maniacs are people with a compulsion to kill other people. They have no guilt or regret about taking lives; it is just something they do to achieve satisfaction. Many such people feel a great surge of power, or of sexual satisfaction, upon killing another human. The condition is, so far as I know, incurable. Such people, when apprehended, are usually locked away for life in a hospital for the criminally insane.”

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