It was not hard to see what was coming. For anyone who has witnessed how racism works over the years, what happened on Saturday 3 August in El Paso near the US-Mexico border was very predictable.
The suspect in the supermarket shooting which killed 20 is believed to have posted an online document calling the attack a response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.
When Trump corralled his supporters to chant ‘Send her back!’ at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, it was inevitable it could translate into violence on the ground. When Trump put a finger to his temple, in a ‘she deserves shooting’ gesture, while referring to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he was inciting terrorism. Ocasio-Cortez responded to Trump to say, ‘he’s not just attacking me, he’s threatening the lives of millions’. She was right.
When leading mainstream politicians send out racist signals to their ‘base’, there will always be sundry White Supremacists, neo- Nazis, and alt-right fascists who take this rhetoric at face value and believe it gives them a license to kill.
If Trump says that Mexicans and migrant are mostly rapists and criminals and that there should be a wall built to keep them out, is it surprising that the likes of the El Paso suspect, Patrick Crusius, would take the law into his own hands? If it is legal to cage migrant children at the border and to jail people who leave food and water for migrants in the desert then why wouldn’t a true American patriot be entitled to shoot down Mexicans and put a stop to ‘the Hispanic invasion’ and ‘the great replacement’?
To say Trump has blood on his hands is an understatement. Conservatives and racists have a habit of talking about racism as if it were a matter of giving ‘offence’; ‘I didn’t mean to “offend” anyone’, they say after making some racist comment. Or alternatively, that it was just ‘banter’ and that people shouldn’t be such sensitive ‘snowflakes’. Causing ‘offence’ was never the real problem with racism; the real problem was and is that it serves to justify every crime against humanity from the slave trade and mass murder, to letting thousands drown in the Mediterranean, all the way back to the Holocaust.
And when that racism comes from President of the United States, it affects and pollutes the whole world, from Christchurch to Galway.