Patrick Crusius was so committed to the cause of making America white again and doing his part to fend off what he considered the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” that he apparently drafted a poor man’s manifesto to make his intentions clear.
Crusius considered himself a patriot. He wrote, “Our founding fathers have endowed me with the rights needed to save our country from the brink (of) destruction.” As he saw it, what has brought us to the brink is immigration.
The rights in question included the right to—stop me if this sounds familiar—procure a high-powered rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They also included the right to leave Allen, Texas, the overwhelmingly white Dallas suburb where he lived, on Saturday and drive, freely and without papers, at least 10 hours in the Texas summer heat on a ghoulish hunting trip.
Listen up, kids: When Allen, Texas, sends its people to El Paso, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing guns. They’re bringing violence. They’re racists. And some, I assume, are good people.
The carnage he caused—22 dead, 24 more wounded—is being called the worst attack on Latinos in the United States in our nation’s history. Neither black nor white, Latinos are often air-brushed out of TV news reports, newspaper stories, Hollywood movies, television shows, textbooks, documentaries, podcasts, digital news sites, and Madison Avenue ad campaigns. At least now we’ll have a line in the history books.
At least eight of the dead are Mexican nationals who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border that morning. They came not to claim welfare or take jobs, and not even to be rapists, but to spend their hard-earned money on back-to-school clothes and other essentials at a big box store—the sort with more bells and whistles than those you find in Ciudad Juárez, which lies less than five miles south of El Paso.
The Walmart Supercenter in the Cielo Vista Mall—on the west side of El Paso, a stone’s throw from the U.S.-Mexico border—was a destination spot for the Mexicans because, as they are constantly told, everything is better in the United States.
And sometimes, deadlier.
The U.S. State Department puts out advisories warning Americans not to travel to Mexico because it’s not safe. Since the shooting, foreign governments are issuing advisories warning their citizens not to come here.
Obviously, Crusius—who was arrested “without incident” (courtesy of white privilege)—is not good people. In the racist and anti-immigrant manifesto he seems to have left behind, he decried “race mixing” and said that Hispanics marrying whites is yet “another reason to send them back.” He warned that Democrats were scheming to take over the government by “pandering heavily to the Hispanic voting bloc.”
Calling immigration “detrimental to the future of America,” he declared that “it makes no sense to keep on letting millions of illegal or legal immigrants flood into the United States, and to keep the tens of millions that are already here.”
Crusius doesn’t want us to blame Donald Trump. He insisted that he felt this way long well before the billionaire got into politics.
Not so fast. Ever since the real estate mogul launched his White House bid in June 2015 by likening my grandfather, and other Mexican immigrants to criminals, rapists, and drug traffickers, my community has been his piñata. With all the loose talk and foul tweets about “bad hombres” and “shithole countries” and “breeding” and "go back,” some of my fellow Mexican-Americans have been telling me that something like this was bound to happen.
The whole point of this mission was, as Crusius would later tell police, to “kill as many Mexicans as possible.”
The surnames of the dead say it all. Benavidez. Anchondo. Rodriguez. Hernandez. Garcia. Marquez. Campos. Sanchez.
Don’t let Trump supporters spin you away from the truth just because they find it inconvenient: The president, and the predator, drink from the same trough. It doesn’t matter who got there first.
Meanwhile, in Gilroy, California, you’ll find more Latino corpses riddled with bullets fired by yet another white male armed with yet another assault weapon. The weekend before the El Paso shooting, three people were killed and 12 injured at the city’s annual garlic festival. Two of the casualties were Latino.
Early reports linked the shooter, identified as 19-year-old Santino William Legan, to white supremacists. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, FBI officials called those initial media reports “wrong.” They stressed that the motive behind the shooting was still not clear and they were not comfortable tying Legan to any particular ideology.
They did say, however, that the shooter had prepared a “target list” of other public events and government buildings. For now, the FBI has opened a full-blown domestic terrorism investigation in response to the Gilroy shooting. Until the results of that investigation are in, some will continue to speculate that race was a factor.
It’s no wonder that, speaking to the nation Monday, Trump tried to change the subject away from race and racism to mental health and video games. Remember when Republicans believed in taking responsibility for our actions? Yeah, that’s over with.
Meanwhile, in El Paso, Mexican-Americans say this the first time in their lives that they don't feel safe because of their ethnicity.
I get that. In studying the civil rights movement, I often wondered what it must have been like to live in the South in the 1960s and be terrorized because of the color of my skin. Now I no longer have to wonder.
Listen up, Haters. We hear you. We see you. And we’ll fight you.
Not because we’re a threat to America, but because we are America. And because this country we love is worth saving—from the likes of you.