I spent the evening watching the local television stations from El Paso, Texas. The scenes of grieving people were heartbreaking. Hearing that among the wounded was a two-year-old child was devastating. Seeing the reporters, who all live locally, react with their own horror as they realized that some of their own friends were not accounted for brought the reality of this terrorist incident home to the reporters and to anyone watching them.
What was also disturbing was hearing Texas governor Greg Abbott say that Texans need to “be united.” Abbot and Donald Trump have repeatedly appealed for Americans to divide along the same lines the terrorist did. Division by race and place of birth is the stock in trade of these two. It is cheap grace for Abbott and Trump to demand that “fingers not be pointed” when they have been pointing their fingers at Latinos for the last three years.
I read the manifesto that was reportedly authored by the terrorist. It says that the mass murder was motivated by a desire to expel Latino “invaders.” It invoked the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. This is the theory that “elites” and “Jews” are trying to increase non-white immigration so that whites in the U.S., Canada, and Europe can be “replaced” by Latinos and Muslims. In this country, Lauren Southern has been a principal propagator of this modern version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Three years ago she was a nutty figure on the extreme right. A few weeks ago, Donald Trump retweeted Lauren Southern to spread her views to millions of his followers.
We can’t join in a false national unity when the most powerful man in the world is putting millions of immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, LGBT, African Americans, and Jews in danger. We can’t join hands with politicians whose only appeal is to the racial anxieties of white people.