On anniversary of El Paso massacre, leaders link bullets to white supremacist beliefs – Baptist News Global

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Two years after the gun massacre at an El Paso Walmart, fears of the “big replacement” continue to fuel violence in America, according to attendees at a live-broadcast memorial to the 23 killed on Aug. 3, 2019.

White supremacists emboldened by conservative media and uncontrolled access to social media inspired a national terror movement that was responsible for the El Paso shooting as well as the Jan. 6 insurgency on the U.S. Capitol, said participants in the press conference. Memorial.

Tying it all together is a popular white supremacist myth known as “the great replacement,” a fear often shared on Fox News and social media that whites will be ousted by people of color, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. . He was among the speakers at the commemorative event, titled “A Better Future: Remembering the El Paso Massacre Victims and Fighting Disinformation Through Social Media.”

Jonathan greenblatt

“This toxic idea states that unless immediate action is taken, the so-called white race is doomed to extinction by an alleged rising tide of color that has been controlled and manipulated by the Jews, ”explained Greenblatt. “It was the ‘grand replacement theory’ that underpinned the El Paso gunman manifesto when he wrote that his attack was a response to the ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas.’ He said he was defending America from the cultural and ethnic replacement brought about by an invasion.

“This kind of language is untenable in any context, and it can have homicidal consequences,” he added. “Unfortunately, that rhetoric has not abated since El Paso.”

The League of United Citizens of Latin America hosted the online discussion with speakers, including its own leaders; Greenblatt; the leader of the National Hispanic Media Coalition; a member of Congress; and a White House domestic terrorism expert. Everyone expressed sorrow over the loss of life caused by the 2019 deaths and called for unity to oppose the racism that forced the shooter to travel hundreds of kilometers specifically to kill Mexicans.

“These were victims of the rhetoric of hate we see it coming from Washington and Austin and hate radio and television, LULAC President Domingo Garcia said, adding that the racist speech had radicalized the El Paso shooter and insurgents in Washington, DC

Domingo García

A march organized a week after the shooting demonstrated the spirit of unity that started the healing process in El Pasoans and is still needed to remember the victims of the murder, Garcia said. “We have to celebrate their lives, uplift their memories, but we have to come together as a community to keep fighting because peace can overcome hatred. “

Greenblatt said the ADL has made “a firm and unyielding commitment to tackle hate on the ground and online.”

The reasons justifying such an action are worrying, he said. “Over the past few years, we have watched the increasing normalization of hate spread in our country and across the world, and the interdependence of hate online and offline is simply indisputable.

He cited the El Paso massacre, the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in which 11 died, and the two mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51 people in 2019.

“The unchecked hatred on social media and other platforms, and the misinformation that emanates from it, as we have seen, has deadly consequences,” Greenblatt said.

The phrases associated with movement are unmistakable and include “one nation against invasion”, “mass immigration is white genocide”, “expel illegal aliens” and “expel them all”.

Another may be more familiar: “Build the wall”.

Véronique Escobar

El Paso’s Democratic US MP Veronica Escobar said the need for action is clear but action remains emotionally difficult on the anniversary of the Walmart massacre.

“This is a day that I have been thinking about for some time with a sense of pain and dread because of all that we are going to relive,” she said. “But we are going to go ahead and learn from these painful times.”

One lesson is that the 2019 shooting put El Paso “at the crossroads of our country’s hate epidemic,” Escobar added.

Another is that insufficient measures have been taken to prevent further massacres. She cited a new Texas law allowing state residents to carry firearms without a license effective September 1.

“It is tragic to know that not only have we as a country not learned the lessons of today’s tragedy, but we have started to move very sharply in the wrong direction. In my state we have not only seen a lack of interest in gun violence prevention, but we have essentially seen a state legislature whose interest is in flooding the streets of Texas with guns. . It will create incredible damage in our state, ”she said.

“We have also seen leaders with the loudest intimidating chairs in our state using xenophobia and racism to fuel the same kind of hatred that led to August 3rd. “

“We have also seen leaders with the loudest intimidating chairs in our state use xenophobia and racism to fuel the same kind of hatred that led to August 3.”

The El Paso shooter told authorities at the time that he was specifically targeting Mexicans. Investigators also found that Crusius shared his concerns online about the Hispanic invasion of Texas. He drove from the northern suburbs of Dallas to El Paso – 650 miles – to perpetuate his terror.

“What allows this to spread are social media and the very powerful platforms that are not yet regulated,” Escobar said. “As we dialogue and seek to do better and create a country where families can live free from fear, I hope that we can find concrete answers and I hope that the Congress develops the political will and the courage to protect everyone. “

Opponents of white supremacy must transform grief from tragedies like the El Paso shooting to a sense of urgency in the fight against domestic terrorism, said Joshua Geltzer, U.S. Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden on Domestic Terrorism.

The White House recently developed a national strategy to combat domestic terrorism. The strategy aims to assess threats, prevent attacks and give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools to respond effectively when attacks occur, he said.

The approach also calls for combating “the racism that fuels the terrorism that we saw in El Paso” by tracking gun movements and combating white supremacist disinformation spread online, Geltzer added.

Brenda Castillo

This misinformation includes blaming Hispanics for the spread of COVID-19 and to invade the border, said Brenda Castillo, CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

“I was not surprised by another terrorist attack by a white terrorist,” she said of the El Paso Walmart killings.

Castillo said social media contributed to the crisis by running ads for then-President Donald Trump that spread false information about migrants on the US-Mexico border.

“These advertisements were intended to spread hatred and misinformation about Mexicans, immigrants and all the other native browns that Trump considered criminals and rapists, ”she said. “To social media companies, we say enough is enough. How many more must die before we hold social media companies accountable for the violence and harassment that results from their inaction? “

Castillo said his coalition has asked these media to disclose how their English-Spanish translation algorithms work and how Spanish posts are moderated, and by whom.

“To prevent future massacres, we must stop the hatred and misinformation online. Self-regulation of the platform does not work. A federal agency must apply it.

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