Trump, call El Paso a terrorist attack

When Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev perpetrated the Boston Marathon Attack in 2013, it was called a terrorist attack. When Omar Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando in 2016, it was called a terrorist attack. But why, then, doesn’t Trump call the El Paso shootings a terrorist attack?

When Patrick Crusius killed 20 people and injured a further 26 in El Paso last Saturday, Donald Trump called the mass shooting “a mental illness problem.”

On Saturday morning, the 21-year-old from Texas opened fire at a Walmart for reasons which have been suspected to be linked to his white supremacist ideological beliefs.

Crusius had allegedly published an anti-immigrant manifesto before going ahead with the massacre, which reportedly warned of the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The sheriff of El Paso bluntly spoke about the shooting, insisting, “This Anglo man came here to kill Hispanics.”

Last year, journalist David Schanzer coined the term ‘Act of Terrorism Inspired by Ideology of Trumpism’ in response to the anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic ideology that fuelled the murder of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The rise of Trump has bred hateful rhetoric that has normalised a sentiment of racial and ethnic division and has perpetuated a racially-charged hysteria.

Regardless of whether or not the gunman’s mental stability had a role to play in the shootings, it cannot be denied that in seizing racial tensions for his political gains, Trump has appeared to legitimise a social and physical attack on ethnic minorities. During his 2016 presidential campaign, the President stamped his mark of Trumpism by referring to Mexicans as “rapists” and called to ban Muslims from entering America.

Furthermore, Trump’s stance on gun reform means it is still quite easy for citizens to have ownership of assault rifles. Many critics have lashed out against Trump, with high-profile people such as Rihanna taking to social media to point out how “it’s easier to get an AK-47 than a VISA”.

Ultimately, it has to be asked: why is that when a Caucasian man commits such an awful act, the President narrows it down to a mental illness problem, but change the attacker’s nationality or skin colour, and there are no hesitations to call the perpetrator what they are: a terrorist?

Terrorism is the use of violence or of the threat of violence in the pursuit of political, religious, ideological or social objectives. Patrick Crusius is a terrorist.

And while the federal authorities are now treating the El Paso shootings as a case of domestic terrorism, I’m disappointed that in today’s age, the President of the United States is in some part to blame for the rise in active terror against groups of innocent people in sub-sections of society.

Image: Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio

Kiran Athwal

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