White supremacist in the White House fueling a national emergency
Edie Hallberg searches for her mother after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. | Andres Leighton / AP

Even after a speech today in which President Trump said hate has to end, calls to impeach him and statements identifying him as responsible for a mass shooting carried out by a white supremacist in El Paso, Texas, this weekend continued.

The day after two mass shootings, the first in El Paso and the second in Dayton, Ohio, in which at least 29 people died, Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker became the first presidential candidate speaking on nationwide media to blame GOP President Donald Trump for the mass murder in El Paso. Booker charged Trump with “sowing seeds of hatred in our country” and castigated him for not condemning white supremacy.

The first mass shooting in El Paso on August 3 was followed 10 hours later, just after midnight, by a second mass shooting in Dayton. Between the two at least 29 people were gunned down and at least 50 other people were injured.

The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, said yesterday for the first time, after years of deadly attacks by domestic terrorists, that white supremacist domestic terrorism is now the greatest threat to the safety of the American people. Other non-partisan groups, notably the Southern Poverty Law Center, reached that conclusion long before.

“We have moral bonds and fabric of our country. We have a president of the United States who is particularly responsible,” Booker declared on MSNBC. “My faith has this idea that ‘You reap what you sow,’ and he (Trump) is sowing seeds of hatred in our country. This harvest of hate violence that we’re seeing now lies at his feet,” the Democratic presidential candidate declared.

“When you have the president from the highest moral office in our land talking about ‘invasions’ and ‘infestations’ and ‘shithole countries’ — the kind of things that come out of his mouth — it harms the moral fabric of our nation. He is responsible,” Booker charged repeatedly in the MSNBC interview. “He is responsible when he has taken no action whatsoever to even condemn white supremacy.”

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also came out early and strong in blaming Trump. O’Rourke represented El Paso in Congress until he ran for the U.S. Senate in Texas. And presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg also blamed Trump, during a candidates’ forum in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon, as reports trickled in of the mounting death toll in El Paso.

“There is an environment of it (white supremacist hate) in the United States,” O’Rourke declared. “We see it on Fox News, we see it on the internet, but we also see it from our commander-in-chief,” he continued.

“He is encouraging this. He doesn’t just tolerate it, he encourages it, calling immigrants rapists and criminals, warning of an invasion on our border, seeking to ban all people of one religion. Folks are responding to this. It doesn’t just offend us, it encourages the kind of violence we’re seeing, including in my hometown of El Paso yesterday.”

“America is under attack from home-grown white nationalist terrorism,” said Buttigieg on Saturday as reports came into a candidates’ forum in Las Vegas and the El Paso death toll mounted. “White nationalism is an evil that is being condoned at the highest levels of government,” Buttigieg said, referring to Trump, though not naming him.

In a manifesto, the El Paso shooter reportedly wrote he wanted to stop the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Trump has said in several speeches and at several campaign rallies that an “invasion” is taking place at the southern U.S. border.

“This ideology of white nationalism predates Trump,” said columnist Medi Hasan, a British political journalist and presenter on Al Jazeera. “But he encourages it.”

Hasan, a Muslim, described on cable TV networks yesterday what he saw on the subway in Washington, D.C., on Trump’s Inauguration Day. “The subway car was full of people wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats with a group talking about how Trump would save America from going down the path of Germany which today,” they claimed, “is full of brown people and Muslims. It’s nonsense,” Hasan said, “most of them have never been to Europe. Trump should be talking to his base, telling them how dangerous that kind of talk is.”

He isn’t. Trump, remember, said there were “very nice people” among the neo-Nazis who murdered Heather Heyer and injured 19 other people in Charlottesville, Va., two years ago. And the El Paso mass murderer wore a Trump MAGA hat.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, another of the Democrats running for president, said: “We cannot have a country that has a president who incites someone to drive 10 hours to go and kill people.” The shooter drove from his home in Dallas to El Paso, on the other side of Texas, where he carried out the killings he talked about in a hate screed posted less than 25 minutes before the shootings.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona, severely wounded in the head in a mass shooting herself while meeting constituents there, demanded the Senate and the Congress be called into an emergency session to deal with the threat of white nationalism. So did Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and other Democrats. Congress is now in recess until after Labor Day. The response from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent.? Silence.

“The president has incited this,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino. “Last year the president dismantled a program President (Barack) Obama set up to counter white supremacist terror groups. Yesterday was the largest slaughter of Hispanic Americans in our history,” Kumar said. “We have 132 million people of color in America. When he talks about ‘sending people back’ he is targeting all 132 million,” she said.

Frank Figliuzzi, a terrorism analyst and former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, said “every single elected official should be contacted by their constituents demanding they condemn white nationalism and the president for not calling it out for what it is. If Trump does not come out and condemn this white nationalism, he is choosing sides, he is choosing the side of those who want to kill our democracy.”

Kumar noted that incendiary and racist language Trump uses has, in effect, turned his rallies and public speeches into “national security risks.”

Two other Democratic presidential hopefuls, Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, both said, “We shouldn’t have to live in fear of mass shootings. Congress must pass laws to curb gun violence.”

Heidi Beirich, intelligence project director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the nation’s most reliable source of information about hate crimes, said the El Paso murderer “was fueled by hatred of immigrants.”

But, she added, “White supremacist terrorism is fueled by the White House. The creed and Trump describe immigrants the same way. You get those signals” legitimizing it. “He should acknowledge that white supremacy is a problem. Stop degrading people and say to the world that he was wrong about what he was doing.”

Malcolm Vance of the Terror Asymmetric Project said that might not work, but what would help is if the FBI would speak out and say, “We will get you.” He added: “Someone must say, ‘we will stop you.’” And in a tweet, Vance labeled the “#ElPasoMallShooting an act of domestic terror so it is the #ElPasoTerroristAttack. The suspect should heretofore be referred to as ‘the terrorist’ NOT ‘the shooter.’”

Beirich said SPLC data show the number of hate groups is up 30 percent since Trump took office, and hate crimes have risen comparably. SPLC adds that hate sites on the internet log 400,000 unique views a day. And the consumers of that hate believe the only way to stop alleged “invasions” is to go out and do what these terrorists are doing.

But here’s the bigger problem: While Trump incites and exploits white supremacy and hatred for the “other,” prompting people like the El Paso mass murderer, he didn’t start that hate. White supremacy’s as old as the country and as new as this year, and not just in murders, either.

The first white settlement in the U.S., in Jamestown, Va., in 1619, saw its legislators enact the first slave code. The U.S. Capitol and the White House and much of the rest of the U.S. were erected by conscripted, enslaved Africans shipped over to these shores in the dangerous, disease-ridden, vermin-infested holds of slave ships – ships manned by white crews and financed by the newly emerging white capitalists. And they were then sold into slavery for the benefit of the ruling class of the time which also happened to be white.

Those same white elites in the South imposed Black Codes, Jim Crow, voter suppression and lynchings, after the Northern white elite, weary of the cost of enforcing freedom –  and more interested in money and exploitation of workers, black and white – ended Reconstruction.

And people of color, including African-Americans, people with Hispanic names and Asian immigrants, have not been the sole victims of longtime white supremacy, either. Indeed, it is more a class supremacy at times. Remember “No Jews allowed” in white elitist institutions? Or “No Irish need apply” for jobs after they migrated to escape famine in the 1840s? Or the “Chinese exclusion laws” of the 1880s?

Or the “Trail of Tears” – the violent expulsion, by white supremacist Andrew Jackson, of Native Americans from east of the Mississippi River, resulting in thousands of deaths, massive deportations, and dispossession of land, all to benefit whites but especially wealthy white landowners, oligarchs, and capitalists? Or the long history of lynching, South and North – with the lynchings sponsored and/or attended by the white elite, as the old photographs show?

And how about the infamous 1924 immigration law designed to perpetuate White Anglo-Saxon Protestant superiority against such “inferior” peoples as Jews and Italians? That law slammed the door on migrants for 41 years – and the law, plus the racist and supremacist attitudes in back of it, kept the U.S. from being a haven for refugees from Hitler.

That white elitist, corporate class basis for supremacy extends to the current era, and again, not just in shootings. Just this year, the white corporate managers pitted race against race to defeat a major union organizing drive in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Before that, the white corporate class elite condoned or actively promoted the Red Scare of the 1950s, targeting, again “The other.” It incited the white working class to attack, not unite with, its natural allies, the black working class, in the South.

A restaurant employee looks at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. | John Locher/AP

Venal and vicious employers exploited people with Hispanic names, via the bracero program, long before Trump’s jihad against Hispanics, and they continue to do so, inciting white workers, especially men, to hate people of color. And in yet another area, Trump and his developer father, Fred, broke federal open housing laws in their developments in the New York metro area.

And while tens of thousands of people took to the streets, and the airports, to defy Trump’s Muslim ban, the white ruling class stayed silent.

Also silent: Congressional Republicans, cowed by Trump, and their political puppeteers, the corporate class. How many corporate leaders have you heard criticizing Trump, much less campaigning for real gun control and a crackdown on hate groups?

From the day he appeared on the escalator of his tower in New York, announcing his run for the White House, Trump has emboldened these people, Kumar added. “To tamp it down it is the responsibility of the GOP and Trump,” she said.

What can federal law enforcement do given the leadership of Trump? Figliuzzi: “It has to come from the top.” Yes, the culture must change and we must do these things. But the legislative tools are not there. If cultural change and political change do not happen soon, there will be more and more and more of these attacks, again and again and again.

Even more, let’s remove the person at the top now. And that’s the start. It is time to root out the cancer in the country of which Donald Trump is just a malevolent, obvious manifestation.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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