The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Trump, Hate and the Texas Terror Attack

The shooter in Texas, another little nobody desperate for attention, wrote, “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”

From which Oval Office did we hear bullshit like that? Trump should be held accountable in my opinion. I have long argued when any president does what Trump does and encourages racism and speaks of invasions, he is giving morons permission to act.

This sorry excuse for a human had a Twitter account but all his social media has been erased in the meantime. Before that happened his was filled with pro-Trump material which others copied. He was MAGA maggot, a Trump worshipper, and he wanted the wall and hated immigrants. He was mini-me version of The Donald — just without the inheritance and a bit more brains

Some years ago I gave talk to a libertarian conference and warned of the fragile nature of tolerance and peace:

“Individuals live in the cultural bubble that surrounds them. Like it or not, it inhibits how they behave. Remove the cultural inhibitions and people act on their prejudices. When certain levels of intolerance are achieved within a culture then the restraints disappear and people begin acting on their hatreds.

…When the cultural values are dominated by intolerance it becomes more than a belief, it becomes a practice. And it is a practice that means the violation of the rights of others.”

This was long before Cheeto Benito took office; it was before the hate march in Charlottesville and the other incidents we have seen in recent years.

When hate becomes a dominant message in the wider culture the inevitable results are crimes against innocent people inspired by that hate.

From the start of his campaign Trump called immigrants invaders. Today’s mass murderer is only responding to the very things he heard Trump say for the last three years. Trump called them an infestation — what do you do to infestations? Trump called them dangerous animals. What do you do to those kinds of animals? You do what the killer in El Paso did.

At one campaign rally Trump went into another racist rant about immigrants repeatedly claiming, “It’s an invasion” to describe asylum seekers and refugees. He then falsely told his followers that “we don’t let [Border agents] use weapons,” something that would surprise those shot to death by them. And then he asked his brownshirts: “”But how do you stop these people?” One audience member shouted back, “Shoot them.”

Trump didn’t chastise him for the suggestion of murdering people—he grinned. He paused with a huge smile on his fleshy face and let everyone see how happy the suggestion made him. Then the grinning bigot said, “Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle!” CBS said the audience “roared in cheers” over it.

Yes, he pulled the trigger but he got permission to do so in countless racist remarks out of the mouth of Donald Trump. For the last 3+ years Trump has been gnawing away at the cultural restraints that kept the hate of bigots abated and subdued. Slowly those restraints loosened and compliant, complacent, compromisers in the GOP started mimicking Trump’s rhetoric. Few had any integrity to resist the call of the wild, Trump’s appeal to savage tribalism.

As one Republican after another made supportive remarks of Trump’s hate fewer restraints remained. Yes, Trump was primarily involved but it was the rush to his defense that gave wide permission. The Steve Kings and Rand Pauls are just as responsible for this crime as the tin pot moron whose ass they kiss. Each knee-jerk defense of uncivilized behavior loosed the moral restraints another notch or two.

Secondly, we should note the utter ignorance of this killer, a man living in a state that was Hispanic before it was part of this country, and has remained Hispanic for hundreds of years. They are NOT invaders, they lived there first.

Texas is an area taken from Mexico by force. This wasn’t lily-white Minnesota, this was a Spanish-speaking territory occupied by Hispanic people who were forcibly incorporated into a foreign country.

Some 12 hours before the attack I was making a point on the Moorfield Storey Institute page on Facebook about the true nature of hate crimes in America. Today’s incident confirms my point. The true terrorist threat in America isn’t from Muslims or Mexicans, it’s from white nationalist authoritarians — people who today are “the Base” for Trump. On Facebook I wrote:

Domestic extremists murdered 50 people in 2018. In 2017 it was 37, 72 in 2016 and 70 in 2015. In 2018 all of the attackers had ties to right-wing groups though one also associated with an Islamic extremist group as well.

From 2009 to 2018 Islamist extremists perpetrated 12 attacks killing 100 people. During the same period the extreme right groups ranging from white supremacists, Nazis and militia types murdered 313 people.

This is something libertarians, of all people, ought to understand; often the most dangerous people are those who intend to save you from the imaginary monsters they fear. This killer wanted to save America, these Nazis and white supremacists, always claims they are out to Make America Great Again, and for every one American killed by Islamist terrorists these bigots kill another three.

There is one last point I want to make. This killer wrote: “My motives for this attack are not at all personal.” His targets were not individuals it was all Hispanics. His inspiration was a crime against a collective not against any of the individuals he attacked. Like every racialist on the Right the killer is a collectivist. He judges others on their collective identity according to his own screwed-up premises. He doesn’t have to know what they have done; their “crime” is who they are.

The killer at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh didn’t have any grudge against anyone there. What he hated was Jews as a class. He was no individualist. The terrorist in Christchurch didn’t know any of the Muslims he murdered, none had done anything to him. It was their collective identity, not their individual natures that he wanted to attack.

These hate-inspired collectivists kill individuals but only a means to terrorize the whole body of such people. The target is the collective, not the individual. The killing of individuals is not the goal; it is just the means to a collectivist end.

These facts are why I changed my mind about the validity of hate crimes. In a typical crime one person harms another, so when Bill hits Bob, Bob is the victim. If Bill hits Bob because he is black I saw that as merely an opinion and it was the hitting, not the opinion, that violated Bob’s rights.

Then I realized there was a second element. For instance, a vandal painting swastikas on Jewish graves wasn’t actually trying to harm any specific person. His goal was to intimidate and threaten a whole group of people. While no individual Jew was his intended victim, all Jews were.

The hate criminal intends to terrorize specific communities, not specific individuals. Racism is collectivistic in nature; it is the abandonment of liberal individualistic values. The bigot who goes out “fag bashing” has no beef with the individual victim; he is trying to send a message to all gays, to intimidate every one of them. To accomplish this attack on the “collective,” he targets one in particular. I see these as two separate, albeit related crimes.

Harassing and intimidating someone is a crime. It is still a crime when you harass and intimidate a group. Attacking one person is another crime. The hate criminal is committing both. One is the attack on the individual and the second is an attempt to intimidate all group members.

The second crime may deserve more punishment than the first, that is debatable. Many crimes against individuals and property should be classified as hate crimes because there is the second crime of intimidation and harassment. For that offense there should be an additional punishment.

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James Peron

James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.