Will America finally confront the violent death rattle of white supremacy? Or will it fail to inflict the coup de grâce, allowing the ideology of hate to revive itself into a global movement, with radicalized young men engaged in what they believe is a zero-sum war for survival?
Last year, those opening lines might have been dismissed as alarmist rhetoric and hyperbole. We no longer have that luxury.
In the past week alone, three American cities have experienced three mass shootings, with gunmen killing at least 32 people. Yesterday, police say that Patrick Crusius, 21, walked into a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, a border town with an 80 percent Hispanic population, opened fire, and killed 20 people. Several hours later, police say that Connor Betts, 24, shot and killed at least nine people in a busy downtown district of Dayton, Ohio. At the beloved annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, 19-year-old Santino William Legan allegedly opened fire on the crowd and killed three people.
The motives remain unclear in each of these cases. But the information that’s presently available is ominous.
Like a number of other recent attacks, at least two of these incidents appear to be connected to an ideological infrastructure that nurtures and mainstreams hate against people of color. The El Paso shooter allegedly wrote a four-page note to explain his deadly rampage. The author of the manifesto claimed that he was inspired to target Hispanics after reading the manifesto of the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist who attacked two mosques and killed 51 people in March. He wanted to kill Hispanic immigrants as an “act of preservation” to reclaim his country from “destruction,” he explained. He referred to Hispanics as “invaders with high birth rates” and expressed his fear of “shameless race mixers,” “the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc,” and the “cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by invasion.”