• February 3rd, 2023
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Racist Rhetoric Always Generates Violence and Death


 

Maribel Hastings and David Torres

 

The deadly shooting in Buffalo, New York, which took the lives of ten people, mostly African Americans, at the hands of an unstable white supremacist is tragic. But the crude reality is that it was also anticipated.

Indeed, it seems that for a good part of U.S. society—the recalcitrant and supremacist part—”resolving” social problems is not done through dialogue or analysis, much less mutual understanding, but plain and simply through armed violence, so much so that this has become a sign of the times in this nation.

In fact, no one is surprised that a sadly divided country—particularly since the rise to power of Trumpism, where an Anglo-Saxon group thinks that the growing number of ethnic minorities wants to replace them—would be fertile ground for the development of racist fanatics who do not hesitate to take advantage of that other scourge that afflicts this nation: easy access to weapons.

 

Foto: América’s Voice
David Torres

Those 21 million firearms, among them revolvers, shotguns, and automatic weapons, that (according to the National Sport Shooting Foundation [NSSF]) were sold in the United States in 2020, the worst year of the pandemic, are the most irrefutable proof that this market will not stop bearing fruit as long as the tendency toward racism persists, which is also a breeding ground for that other terrifying phenomenon, domestic terrorism, to which young white supremacists, captive clients of the National Rife Association (NRA), are prone.

This pernicious influence of weapons is not only a domestic issue, but also exported, which explains in large part the warring nature of this nation. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 36% of arms exports between 2015 and 2019 came from the United States, with no less than 97 clients, a truly dominating country in this matter.

And the worst part is that it is political and public figures who are fanning the flames with their incendiary rhetoric, without fear for the consequences this discourse could have on frail minds. That’s why, for many minorities, their main worry is precisely this white nationalist agenda, which vehemently promotes the “Great Replacement” theory, a historical absurdity that has nothing to do with the world we need to be today, in this 21st century.

Because we can’t forget that it’s been Republican figures, beginning with ex-President Donald Trump, who promote the idea that our southern border with Mexico is “out of control” and that we are being “invaded” by undocumented immigrants, for example. In fact, the manifesto of Payton Gendron, the 18 year-old individual who perpetrated the massacre in Buffalo, makes reference to an unprecedented “invasion” to try to justify his despicable acts.

 

It turns out that racist rhetoric, sooner or later, always generates violence and death.

 

But at the end of the day his racism and hatred toward African Americans made him choose a supermarket in an area of this community to carry out his killing. Whether Latino, African American, Muslim, Asian American, or Jewish, we are all targets of the hate and prejudice that moves these individuals. This includes other Anglo-Saxons who do not share their ideals, as in the case of Charlottesville, Virginia, where another unbalanced person rammed his car into a counterprotest that repudiated the racist message of the event, killing a young white woman.

In 2019 in El Paso, Texas another white supremacist, Patrick Crusius, shot up a Walmart, killing 23 people and wounding another 23, most of whom were Hispanic. And there have been attacks on synagogues, African American churches, mosques, etcetera, because these individuals’ hate is against any minority.

Anglo-Saxons’ “Great Replacement” theory about minorities has passed from the fringes of extremist and white supremacist groups to being normalized by conservative TV hosts, as in the case of Tucker Carlson on Fox News, and Republican politicians who have given their approval to racist speech—if this means mobilizing the followers who put them in power.

One thing that’s sad about this situation is that a sector of the population avails itself of this racist discourse and favors those figures, as we saw with the triumph of Trump in 2016, with their vote. Just like we will see in future contests, there is a receptive audience and politicians know that. But when someone interprets this rhetoric literally and it culminates in violence or death those same politicians wash their hands of all responsibility.
The same thing happened with the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when an angry, pro-Trump mob tried to keep Biden’s win from being certified. Trump and his people riled up a multitude convinced that their violence was justified, because the election had been “stolen” from their supreme leader. And the violence resulted in deaths.

But white nationalists’ discomfort is a sign of their own demise, morally, historically, and philosophically speaking. While they erroneously say that people of color are trying to “replace” them—as if demographics were just a magical invention or a myth—they are reacting violently and, at the same time, attacking minorities they are rejecting and, even worse, killing them.

It turns out that racist rhetoric, sooner or later, always generates violence and death.

 

 

Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor to América’s Voice.  David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at América’s Voice.

 

 

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