On Saturday 3rd August 2019, a white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people. In the early hours of the Sunday morning, a further nine people were killed in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio. US President Donald Trump condemned the hatred behind these attacks, yet it is the environment he has created in America that has allowed this to happen.
While the Dayton shooting has not been confirmed to be a racist attack, the El Paso one certainly was. The 21-year-old white supremacist Patrick Crusius is believed to have posted a racist ‘manifesto’ just 20-minutes before the shooting. Although he states that his beliefs existed before Trump became president, many of his ideals reflect Trump’s own in the manifesto. The manifesto, titled The Inconvenient Truth talks of the dangers of ‘Hispanic invasions’ and ‘open borders’, both ideals that are heavily associated with Trump’s presidency.
A Twitter account linked to Crusius has retweeted many of Trump’s tweets. In February 2017 the account tweeted ‘#BuildTheWall is the best way @POTUS has worked to secure our country so far!’ and, on the 13th of that month, liked a picture of Trump’s name spelt out with guns.
Given this information, it is hard to view the shooting as anything other than a racist attack against Hispanics, fuelled by President Trump’s own racist policies.
Despite this, Trump said in a speech:
"In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy." pic.twitter.com/fEcXngXHea
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 5, 2019
How can Trump condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy in America when he himself is a racist and bigot? These ideologies that he calls ‘sinister’ are in fact his ideologies.
Even in his tweets about the attacks, Trump proves his racism:
….this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2019
How can ‘immigration reform’ possibly be a positive thing to come out of the attack? The attack was a result of Trump’s insistence that Hispanics coming across the border is bad for the country. So bad in fact that he must build a wall to stop it. He condemns the shootings, and yet he is keeping children in cages at the border due to these racist beliefs.
If something positive were to come out of these shootings, it should be the abolition of gun sales to the public. There is not one single reason for civilians to have access to assault rifles (or any guns for that matter). These are not weapons for self-defence. They are there to kill and at great speed.
Trump can condemn racism and bigotry all he likes. He can send his thoughts and prayers. He can lower the flags at the White House. Yet none of this means anything when he has the power to create stricter gun laws and when he sets an example that racism is okay in America. He cannot build a wall between Mexico and America and then act as though a shooting aimed against Hispanics was anything but an extension of this.
The El Paso attack was ultimately an act of homegrown terrorism. A man who already had these racist beliefs was motivated by his president, who clearly holds the same beliefs, and acted on it. Trump it as at fault here, and condemning the racism and sending his thoughts and prayers is not enough. When will he realise that he is fostering an environment that promotes the hatred he so vehemently said had no place in America?