It’s happened again. America had another mass shooting. At least 20 people are dead and another 26 are wounded after a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas was targeted.
The gunman was a 21-year-old white male who appears to have been inspired by the Christchurch, New Zealand shooter from earlier this year. The El Paso shooter released a manifesto that denounced increasing Hispanic immigration into Texas, corporations, interracial dating, and overpopulation. The manifesto also made references to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that claims non-white immigrants were being used to “replace” whites in the Western world. It was the worst of the zero-sum thinking of the left and the right. The manifesto was released on the website 8Chan.
This comes in the wake of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting last weekend. The perpetrator of that shooting was also a white supremacist.
The predictable debates over gun control and racism broke out. Some on the left tried to paint everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton as a racist while some on the right tried to deny white supremacy is a thing, tried to justify it because of immigration policies, or engaged in “whataboutism” involving the left.
Let’s start with the racism debate. It is obviously not fair to paint all or even most immigration restrictionists as racists. There are many reasons people support immigration restrictions that have nothing to do with racism.
It is also not a fair charge to label all or most conservatives as racist as some did on social media. It is not true and it gives cover to actual racists.
Some of the blame laid at Donald Trump is justified because of his use of racially charged and divisive rhetoric at times. But it would be unfair and demagogic to claim he was responsible for the shooting. The causes of this attack go way beyond some nasty tweets as I’ll show in just a second.
But this does not let the right completely off the hook. Some on the right have gotten too comfortable with racists in its midst. Some have even gone so far to endorse the dangerous doctrine of “no enemies to the right”, seeing white supremacists as allies. This has to stop.
Just as it is necessary to denounce radical Islamic terrorism and call it by its name, it is necessary for all of us to denounce white supremacist terrorism. There can no defense or justification for this. Now is the time to burn the alt-right down, even if it hurts in the short-term.
Most of the gun control proposals such as universal background checks and “assault weapon” bans would not have prevented this attack. Universal background checks are unenforceable. As for “assault weapon” bans, they would be ineffective unless you ban all semi-automatic rifles. It is unlikely such a draconian ban would pass constitutional muster.
In addition, there is the decision to be made: do you confiscate the 15 million or so modern sporting arms in circulation or do you keep them on the streets? If you opt to keep them on the streets, you have achieved nothing in the long run. If you opt to confiscate them, even with a “buyback”, you will likely get either massive noncompliance at best and more violence at worst.
What can we do? We need to admit we’re dealing with the beginnings of a white supremacist insurgency in the Western world. White supremacists gather on the website 8Chan to marinate in their hate and egg each other on with even more deadlier terrorist attacks. Western countries need to start treating this movement as it does Islamic jihadist terrorism.
Here at home, there is some real blame to be laid at the Trump administration. It simply does not take this threat seriously. It has crippled efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to fight this threat. In the wake of this attack, this must change.
In addition to getting tough on white supremacist terrorism, President Trump should give a speech where he stands with Hispanic Americans. Finally, he should abandon the politics of racial resentment.
Unfortunately, I do not believe this massacre in El Paso will be the last one. As many white Americans worry about becoming a racial minority, the appeal of white identity politics will be hard to resist.
Finally, as we address domestic terrorism, it is important to protect our civil liberties. We must resist any attempts to restrict our freedom of speech, religious freedom, right to bear arms, right to privacy, freedom of association, right against unreasonable search and seizure, among others. Combatting white supremacy should not be used as an excuse to silence debate on important political issues.