“This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics, I’m outraged and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged.” (New York Post, August 4) Yes, it was a hate crime. There can be no hedging on this one. No political leadership evasion.
According to a New York Times article titled, “Minutes before El Paso killing, hate filled manifesto appears online” (August 3). There can be nothing coincidental about that, and this must be faced head-on. A couple of quotes should be helpful in easing any lingering reserve.
First, the online document pointed to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The evidence is there with El Paso close to the Mexican border, and hundreds of thousands of hopeful migrants from Central America battened down out there. They cause much discomfort and provoke still greater anger. A president has been the Twitter-powered messenger testing, stoking, and keeping insecurities and furies alive.
Patrick Crusius, described as a 21-year old Caucasian, is representative of that simmering, building anger. He worked himself into a rage, and then decided to take matters into his hands. Target: Walmart shoppers.
In that neighbourhood, it was guaranteed to be a massed swarm of innocent shoppers of a specific pedigree: Hispanics. Most likely working-class immigrants and first-generation families. The routine act of shopping at a mall in America now raises the spectre of an imminent and lethal hazard to life; and particularly so for those of a different skin colour.
Mr. Crusius’ manifesto could function very well as a collection of Twitter sentiments, no matter the source of those writings, nor the highly detectable and sure-to-inflame nature of their contents.
Here are some more, compliments of the same New York Times edition, as extracted from the online document, “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.” Chillingly matter of fact. And the main political parties are responsible for the United States “rotting from the inside out” and that “the heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold.” Code red for rage.
Twist it or turn it, the role of politicians and media – hatemongering and irresponsible – cannot be minimised. When tone and thrust are aimed full blast and incessantly at minorities, then it is just a matter of time before the madness of an El Paso assault unfolds. It was the Negro several decades ago, with lynching and riots, as powered by the demagoguery and hands of bigots. Today, that is too tame, in terms of results; the answer: mass shootings from those who feel that they have been given just such a licence by divisive leaders, be they in the media, the pulpit, or the state house.
There is enough blame to pass around freely, notwithstanding rush for belated fixes. It does not matter that the manifesto, which is still to be confirmed as originating with alleged shooter, Mr. Crusius, contained the rather crafty disclosure that, “My opinions on…immigration…predate Trump and his campaign for president.” That should be great comfort to the now eternally unhearing victims, as well as their grieving families.
The point and lesson in all of this commonsense association of killer and rhetoric is that reckless, incendiary words do murder and maim, however indirectly. They keep the pot boiling at unmanageable temperatures. The impassioned and bitter are willingly drawn nearer to the heat, like a moth to a flame. People snap. Extremists are moved to take violent action.
It is why in this time in the Guyanese political calendar that leaders and followers have to sit up, pay attention, and appreciate what is the lay of the local land, and how they must conduct themselves. This is more than about mere necessity or political correctness and decency. It is about what is vital and mandatory. The tone must be set from the top and insisted upon all the way down.
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