. The President of Hate | Ceasefire Magazine

Notes from the Margins | The President of Hate

This week's mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, have added another dismal chapter to America’s seemingly unstoppable litany of mass gun homicides. For the first time in American history, a generation of white supremacists and white nationalists are taking active inspiration from the man who occupies the White House, writes Matt Carr.

New in Ceasefire, Notes from the Margins, Politics - Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 15:06 - 0 Comments

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A photo liked by a Twitter account reportedly belonging to the El Paso shooter. (Source: Snopes.com)

Monday’s mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, have added another dismal chapter to America’s seemingly unstoppable litany of mass gun homicides. Once again, these horrifying tragedies have raised familiar questions about America’s gun culture and the ease with which firearms can be acquired, and they have also drawn attention to the ongoing threat of right-wing terrorism. Whereas the motivations behind the shootings in Ohio remain obscure, the massacre in Texas was motivated by the same white supremacist ideology that inspired the Christchurch mosque killings and other acts of right-wing violence in recent years.

According to the New America Foundation, right-wing terrorists have now killed more people on US soil since 9/11 than jihadist groups. Such violence is not a historical novelty.  During the early 1990s, American right-wing and neo-Nazi groups carried out hundreds of bombings, shootings and acts of violence, culminating in Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. In those years, such groups focused their rage against a left-of-centre Democrat president who they regarded as a facilitator of the ‘new world order’ and a ‘Zionist Occupation Government’. Today, for the first time in American history, a new generation of white supremacists and white nationalists is taking active inspiration from the man who now occupies the White House.

Throughout his 2015 campaign and during his ongoing catastrophic presidency, Donald Trump has echoed and amplified white nationalist tropes and messages in order to radicalise his political base, in a way that no previous president has ever attempted to do. This is a president who has depicted Hispanic immigrants as ‘rapists’, ‘criminals’ and ‘animals’; who described the white supremacists at Charlottesville as ‘very fine people’ after a rally in which an anti-fascist protester was murdered; who smirked and cracked a joke when one of his supporters suggested at a rally that immigrants should be shot.

In the last month alone, Trump has racially targeted four congresswomen of colour and incited his followers to chant ‘send them back.’ He has compared the inhabitants of Baltimore to vermin. He has retweeted the racist enabler Kate Hopkins — a depraved hatemongering hustler with whom no previous president would have been stupid enough to be associated. Last month Trump invited fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists and an antisemitic cartoonist to a ‘social media conference’ at the White House.

On the one hand, Trump has radicalised his political base, and turned the GOP into a party that does not criticise even his basest statements or the gross acts of cruelty on the border that he has enabled — to the point when a US Justice Department official can now calmly explain to a Court of Appeals hearing that detained migrant toddlers do not require beds, soap, or toothbrushes. Republican politicians have also refrained from commenting on the call-and-response relationship that Trump has established with the white nationalist movement.

Not all members of this movement are fond of Trump, mostly because they don’t regard him as radical enough, but Trump’s rhetoric has clearly made an impact in sectors that other presidents were unable or unwilling to reach. The Twitter feed of Patrick Crusius, the El Paso shooter, was awash with pro-Trump postings. In the hate-filled screed that accompanied the El Paso slaughter, Crusius justified his actions as “an act of resistance” to a Hispanic migrant ‘invasion’ in terms very similar to those used by Trump himself, and he praised Trump even as he insisted that his own motivation preceded his presidency. The Christchurch mosque killer Brentan Tarrant also hailed Trump as a ‘symbol of renewed white identity’.

For most of the last few years, with some notable exceptions, the mainstream media and the American political establishment has ignored these connections or tried to downplay them, and the reluctance to acknowledge the dynamic that is unfolding in front of their eyes has enabled Trump, again and again, to incite hatred and then evade responsibility when such hatred turns lethal. All these tricks were on display during the last 72 hours as the Trump mafia scrambled to disentangle itself from the latest acts of bloodshed. Trump, Mike Pence, and Trump’s awful daughter, Ivanka, all issued the usual sanctimoniously inane messages calling on God to bless the victims or bless America in general.

On Monday, with astonishing gall, Trump’s ghoulish consigliera, KellyAnne Conway — the same woman who, only a fortnight ago, was asking a reporter ‘what’s your ethnicity?’ — called on Americans to ‘show unity’ and ‘eradicate hatred.’ Trump himself has been busy deleting tweets in which he described Hispanic migrants as ‘invaders.’ In an address to the nation yesterday he condemned the ‘hatred’, ‘racism’ and ‘white supremacism’ that he has done so much to empower and inflame, instead blaming the killings in Texas and Ohio on ‘fake news’, video games and the mentally-ill.

Now the strategy is shifting, with Trump and his supporters attempting to link the Dayton shootings to the left and antifa. No one should be fooled by such manoeuvres, though some people will certainly allow themselves to be. Trump and his supporters do not operate according to any accepted standards of truth, morality or accountability, and they will always lie and twist the truth in order to deceive and distract attention from facts they don’t wish to recognise. None of them will acknowledge the evidence that Trump is a white supremacist and a white nationalist, whose toxic messages may have encouraged murderers and terrorists. Trump may not want people to be shot in shopping malls, but he has deliberately and cynically fuelled an atmosphere in which such incidents are likely to happen, to the point when would-be race warriors who kill migrants, Jews, people of colour, liberals and leftists or anyone else they think is seeking to ‘replace’ them or erode their ‘identity’ now believe that their time has come.

So far, most right-wing terrorists have been ‘lone wolves’ who have sprung from the dank chatrooms where the manosphere overlaps with gamers, white supremacist peer groups and identitarian race politics. Like so many of the jihadist terrorists who have perpetrated acts of mass murder in Europe, these individuals seem to be acting under the principle of ‘leaderless resistance’ rather than as members of organised violent movements. If the current fascistic drift of 21st politics continues and intensifies, that may change, and the atrocities that we have seen these last few years may prove to be the precursors of even greater violence. Trump himself is aware of such possibilities. Earlier this year he warned his leftwing critics:

‘I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump —  I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad.’

Such statements are only to be expected from a man who has done so much already to lower the threshold of acceptability regarding what can and cannot be said, aided by a Republican party that cares about nothing except staying in power. Unless this changes we can certainly expect to see more killings and more massacres, and not only in the United States, as white supremacism attempts to reassert its domination over a rapidly-changing world.

To prevent this outcome will require the broadest possible international mobilisation, a comprehensive and coordinated law enforcement effort, and the recognition that the man who now occupies the White House is not simply a narcissistic sociopath fixated by wealth and power, but a manifestation of political evil who needs to be universally condemned and driven from office before he can do any more harm.

Matt Carr

Matt Carr is a writer, blogger and freelance print and radio journalist. He is the author of My Father's House, Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain, and The Infernal Machine: an Alternative History of Terrorism. His book Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent was published in autumn 2012. His latest book 'Savage Frontier: the Pyrenees in History', has just been published in the UK by Hurst. He has lectured in a number of UK universities, schools and cultural institutions. He blogs at www.infernalmachine.co.uk.

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