Perhaps the wanton murder of 20 people in El Paso, Texas will finally force Donald Trump and his Republican enablers to mute the hateful rhetoric against immigrants. The shooter posted an attack on the internet blasting immigrants before he carried out his lethal assault. Moreover, he parroted Trump by calling any attempt by Hispanics to settle in the United States “an invasion.” He also touted the all-right’s “replacement theory” concerning demographic shifts.
Trump tried to hold the country hostage to his wall, and his nondesire to regulate guns. With the exception of George P. Bush, a grandson of George H.W. Bush, who bravely called it “white terrorism,” the silence was deafening on the Republican side. Ben Sasse, whose indignation over the budget deal in Congress was loud, apparently saw the taking of 20 lives in West Texas as too petty for his libertarian brain. Susan Collins did her usual “oh dear, oh my” routine.
Can voters really think there are two equal sides to the debate? Surely the concern for legal immigration is legitimate, but one gets the impression that is not the big reason for animus. On May 8, 2019, in Pensacola, Florida, Trump bemoaned the lack of a solution to immigration only to be interrupted by a dedicated follower; “Shoot them” he recommended. Trump did not rebuke the speaker, but said “only in the panhandle can you get away with that.” Fun and games. As in Greenville, North Carolina, the now famous “base” showed their support by giving this deadly suggestion a hearty round of applause. Now the GOP stalwarts are increasingly joining their white nationalist allies in embracing eliminationist rowdies as legitimate. Perhaps it was always there to begin with, but for now it is exposed for all to see.
As usual, Republican lawmakers try to change the subject too by mentioning mental health, video games and the internet. Perhaps they should analyze the screeds of the right wing that consistently advocate violence. There are a few from the left, the shooting of Steve Scalise being an example, but this is the only one during the Trump era.
But, it certainly goes deeper to a visceral hatred of the other. This alt-right terrorist shot people whose only activity was shopping at Wal-Mart. African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities are selected not because they are poor recipients of welfare, but because they are successful.
This parallels white terror against blacks during reconstruction and in the 1890s. Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, saw Red Shirt violence against prosperous African Americans who had commercial and political clout. After World War I, black commercial districts were bombed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, because they represented African American progress, not failure, and certainly the destruction of Rosewood, Florida, was based on “white rage” that blacks had accomplished more in life than they had.
For once the hatred needs to be exposed. The Trump administration unmasked the GOP’s nastiness on this issue. Not content to close their eyes to detention center abuse, they seem prepared to countenance murder by placing their heads in the sand.