Between July 31 and August 3, three different white-identified male terrorists killed and wounded dozens of people in Gilroy, Calif.; El Paso, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio. Three mass shootings in the U.S. in one week.
TV announcers blared that this brought the number of U.S. mass shootings in 2019 to over 250. Wikipedia and news articles everywhere put out complete or partial accounts of the heinous crimes.
Yet nowhere in the big business media was the overwhelming reason for the killings named.
Not “lack of gun control.” Not “mental illness.”
But the fact is that the U.S., all of its formal institutions and its “rule of law” are sunk deep in foundations of white supremacy, xenophobia, misogyny, Christian nationalism and anti-LGBTQ2S+ hatred and a system of murderous capitalism.
Those encouraged and practiced hatreds inflicted a terrible toll last week.
Just before the assault in Gilroy, the killer went on Instagram to recommend a book glorified by white supremacists and used to justify racism, slavery and colonialism. Then he went out and murdered one African-American person and two Latinx children — 6 and 13 years old — and wounded many others.
The El Paso shooter posted a long manifesto, beginning with a statement that his attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He then drove 9 hours across Texas, which was indisputably part of Mexico until the U.S. stole it in 1848, to the predominantly Latinx area of El Paso, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico. There he shot and killed 22 people and wounded at least 26 more, many gravely.
Identifications of those killed are not complete, but at least six Mexican nationals died, according to their embassy, as well as 72-year-old former city bus driver Arturo Benavides and 15-year-old high school student Javier Rodriguez. It was also reported that some of the wounded did not go to hospitals for fear of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s possible that others, for the same reason, did not go to the morgue to identify their loved ones.
No information has yet emerged about the ideology of the Dayton killer. But the identity of his victims brutally exposed his hatreds. The nine people he shot included his 22-year-old sibling, who was a trans man, and six African-American men and women standing nearby.
After the massacres, Trump tweeted the obligatory “thoughts and prayers.” But his real function as the preeminent governmental flag-bearer of divide-and-conquer hatred is on display constantly. At a May 19 Florida rally, he lamented that agents of the Border Patrol are not allowed to turn their guns on im/migrants and demanded, “How do you stop these people?” When someone in the crowd shouted, “Shoot them,” he made a “joke” of that.
Our question is: How do we stop him? And the racist murderers, the anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic murderers, the killers of migrants, those who kill queer and trans people, those who kill in domestic violence incidents? According to an Everytown for Gun Safety analysis, of 156 mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, 54 percent were related to domestic or family violence. (tinyurl.com/y5oyujxa) Nine African-American people were shot to death in a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015. Fifty mostly Latinx, mostly LGBTQ2S+ people were killed at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub in 2016. Eleven people were shot to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. And on and on.
This is the deeply murderous U.S. system we live in. And those are only a few of the mass shooting deaths here. That doesn’t count the millions U.S. wars have killed.
What will it take to end this?
The most moderate elements in the Democratic Party are too timid to even impeach Trump. Progressives unsuccessfully proposed impeachment for racism after his violent tweets against four Congresswomen of color.
But impeachment alone would not do justice to the victims of these horrific massacres. Legal formalities now supposedly bar the arrest of a sitting president. But murder is murder! The mounting wave of resistance against white supremacy in the U.S. wants to see Trump brought to justice.
Why would we look to the Democratic Party to save us? Look at the history of the U.S. Nothing has ever moved the ruling parties in power, whatever name they pass under, except independent mass mobilization by the people. Let’s impeach the capitalist system instead!
The question is no longer the hypothetical: “What if they came for (fill in the blank)?” The massacres underscore the truth that Jewish anti-ICE demonstrators have proclaimed: “Never Again is Now!” Now is the time to organize and be in the streets to demand a stop to the deadly attacks on Black and Brown people and im/migrants — and the hate-filled rhetoric that inspires them.
Every action in solidarity with people of color and with immigrants is important — no matter how small. Wear a button that says: “Come out against racism” and strengthen everyone who sees you. Organize a town rally or neighborhood gathering in support of im/migrants and create a place for anti-racists to gather.
Let’s reach out to those we work with, to members of our union and other unions, to our neighborhood and community groups, and form coalitions to defend the im/migrants in our lives.
Watch for local actions by FIRE (Fight for Im/migrants and Refugees Everywhere) and join in. (facebook.com/fightformigrants/) Follow the International Workers’ Solidarity Network (workersolidarity.net) which is building working-class consciousness and collectivity. Let’s make Labor Day 2019 a day of solidarity with im/migrants!
If we find our strength together now, that is another step toward breaking the bloody grip of oppression, to ending the murders caused by white-supremacist, patriarchal capitalism. We can begin to build the long but hopeful road to revolutionary socialism where “the earth shall rise on new foundations.”
“Solidarity Forever” begins with solidarity today.