White terrorism, which struck this weekend, is a part of an intricate global network whose members, connected via social media, make up a virtual community that shares the same racist, sexist and homophobic values.
Patrick Crusius isn’t an enemy of America. He’s not Muslim, Latino or an immigrant living in the country illegally. He doesn’t belong to any of these groups stigmatized by Donald Trump. Last Saturday, this 21-year-old born and bred Texan entered a Walmart store armed with an assault rifle in El Paso, a border city located 620 miles from his home, where Latinos comprise 80% of the population. He killed 21 innocent people and injured 27 others. The following day, another white man, a 24-year-old this time around, shot nine people dead in a nightlife hot spot in Dayton, Ohio. According to the FBI, in both cases the shootings were acts of hatred against people of a different race. The El Paso killer justified his massacre in a long manifesto in which he explains his act as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Donald Trump Condemned the Shooters’ ‘Cowardice’
What’s happened after this bloody weekend? U.S. authorities have alluded to mental illness, denounced the influence of video games and mentioned nationalist tendencies. Trump tweeted about the shooters’ “cowardice” and halfheartedly called for gun control measures, while at the same time citing the need for new immigration reforms. This reaction, let’s admit, is a far cry from outpourings of collective emotion and calls for national unity, which are the sort of uncompromising positions generally adopted in the United States in the aftermath of an Islamic terrorist attack.
There was no Secret Service readying for battle, no additional monitoring of extremist cells, and no debate about radicalization, dismantling networks or combating white supremacist propaganda, which is spreading like a cancer on the World Wide Web. Oddly enough, aside from Bernie Sanders, no other major U.S. political leader even ran the risk of using the appropriate term − “terrorist acts” − when condemning the events.
A Shared Global Ideology
However, we need to call the horror by its name. According to the dictionary Le Petit Robert, terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of violence to reach a political objective.” That is, exactly the sort of logic to which such mass shootings adhere. Of course, lone wolf attackers don’t belong to an organized movement, but they share the same global ideology, i.e., the defense of white Christian civilization, this old, growing obsession fueled by leaders’ populist rhetoric “that feeds a climate of fear and hatred and normalizes racist sentiments,” as Barack Obama reiterated.
In his manifesto, the El Paso shooter states that he was inspired by the Christchurch massacre perpetrated in New Zealand, in which 51 people were murdered inside a mosque last March. The alleged assailant of the Christchurch attack openly said he was motivated by the “Great Replacement” theory developed by French right-wing extremist writer Renaud Camus, which is very popular within conspiracy theorist circles. Like the Islamic State, white terrorism is backed by an intricate global network whose members, connected via social media, belong to a virtual community that shares the same racist, sexist and homophobic values. Today, according to the FBI, it is the No. 1 threat on U.S. soil, while Islamic terrorism has declined in Western countries. Now it’s time to stop looking the other way so this threat can be confronted head-on.