[Before continuing with the Ethics Alarms commentary to follow, readers should take the time to read the entire El Paso shooter’s manifesto here, in Part I.]
4. To be clear, the man is mad as a hatter. He is surprisingly articulate and thoughtful, however—more than many of the pundits that have tried to exploit his screed for their own purposes.
5. The basic inspiration for both the manifesto itself and the attack it preceded was the “Great Replacement,” a fevered conspiracy theory posited by Renaud Camus, a French writer. The idea is neither novel nor complicated. It is like the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” although it is more like the invasion of the culture snatchers. Unrestrained immigration by an alien culture allows the majority, predominant culture to be replaced before it knows what has happened.
In the introduction to his manifesto, the shooter says, “My motives for this attack are not at all personal. Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read “The Great Replacement.” For the record, President Trump has never said or written anything that echoes or references the “Great Replacement” paranoia. Pat Buchanan, when he was the champion of the GOP far right in the 80s and 90s, espoused similar theories, but never Trump. The President has never attacked the concept of immigration, only illegal immigration. Tying the manifesto to the President is another despicable example of representing opposition to illegal immigration as a variety of xenophobia or racism.
6. The manifesto is not partisan. “The inconvenient truth is that our leaders, both Democrat AND Republican, have been failing us for decades,” it states early on. This is true, incidentally, regarding illegal immigration. Like most conspiracy theories, there are elements of truth in the shooter’s arguments; the problem is the extreme and unwarranted conclusions they lead him to adopt.
The shooter does finger the Democratic Party as the greater culprit, because they “intend to use open borders, free healthcare for illegals, citizenship and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters.” Again, there’s nothing crazy about that theory, which has been posited by many for decades by non-crazy people, and it still seems more likely than not. Again, it contains elements of truth, and there is nothing about objecting to such strategy or finding it cynical and unethical that makes the argument racist. Still, “the Republican Party is also terrible,” the shooter writes.
7. Most of the shooter’s ideological positions could hardly be more contrary to Trumpism (whatever it is) or conservatism:
- “[Both parties] are either complacent or involved in one of the biggest betrayals of the American public in our history, the takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations.”
- “In the near future, America will have to initiate a basic universal income to prevent widespread poverty and civil unrest as people lose their jobs.” He approvingly cites universal health care and guaranteed income, and suggests that the government must reduce student debt from college loans.
- He is an environmentalist, who seems to believe that the government needs to do more to save the environment:
[O]ur lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly over-harvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax.” Watersheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just wipe water off our hands. Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations.
This secion could have been authored by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, except that it’s more coherent and less hysterical than her typical comments on the environment. When did you ever hear a conservative praise “The Lorax”?
- The shooter is a pacifist. He writes,
People who are hypocrites because they support imperialistic wars that have caused the loss of tens of thousands of American lives and untold numbers of civilian lives. The argument that mass murder is okay when it is state sanctioned is absurd.
8. The shooter leaps to a series of rash, illogical, ultimately crack-pot conclusions from some barely defensible arguments. Simple statistical analysis shows that there is no way the current rate of immigration, even adding current rates of illegal immigration, is going to “replace” the culture. The United States is a lot bigger than France, and its a crazy argument for France. Nor is anything, including periodic massacres, going to reduce the population and work force of the U.S. The shooter’s terroristic plan, if you can dignify such craziness with the term “plan,”, that his attack will cause a mass exodus of Hispanic-Americans is as deluded as they come. (Although, ironically, groups like Amnesty International seem determined to make it work.) He’s wrong about demographics, he’s wrong about culture, he’s wrong about human nature, he’s wrong about his doomsday scenarios, he’s just wrong. He’s probably even wrong in his assumptions about where Hispanic-Americans will end up politically.
But he’s wrong in completely different ways than Donald Trump, who is optimistic, believes in America’s strength, and never speaks in apocalyptic terms, or raises fears that the nation is in imminent peril. It is Trump’s opposition that keeps claiming that the U.S. is headed for disaster—just as the shooter does.
9. Though the shooter claims not to be a white supremacist, this section is both the most obnoxious, contradictory and irrational in the document:
I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems; also because it’s completely unnecessary and selfish. 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics form interracial unions at much higher rates than average, yet another reason to send them back. Cultural and racial diversity is largely temporary. Cultural diversity diminishes as stronger and/or more appealing cultures overtake weaker and/or undesirable ones.
He needs to read up on genetics. Race-mixing advances genetic diversity. It only creates identity problems if one is obsessed with tribal identity—you know, like progressives and Democrats. The underlying values of our culture holds that such identity is and should be artificial. It is the individual, not the race, gender or tribe, that matters. This section also undermines his central thesis. If the stronger, more beneficial cultures prevail, and they do, there’s no threat to the U.S. from immigration. The best parts of the diverse cultures enhance ours, that’s all. It is how the nation has thrived for centuries, and there is no reason to believe the system no longer works, even with the obstacles erected by misguided policy-makers.
10. Finally, the manifesto leaves the rails entirely, with this nonsense:
Racial diversity will disappear as either race mixing or genocide will take place. But the idea of deporting or murdering all non-white Americans is horrific. Many have been here at least as long as the whites, and have done as much to build our country. The best solution to this for now would be to divide America into a confederacy of territories with at least one territory for each race. This physical separation would nearly eliminate race mixing and improve social unity by granting each race self-determination within their respective territory(s).
Okaaaaay…we have a nice padded room for you now, just take these pretty pills.
But again, this doesn’t ring of Trump: it is more similar to the resurgent racial segregationists among black students on college campuses.
In summary and conclusion, the assertions by pundits and democrats that the rhetoric of President Trump did or could have triggered this articulate lunatic is a complete and vicious fabrication, enabled in part by efforts to make it as difficult for members of the public to read the document themselves. The shooter, like the sniper who shot Rep Scalise, is more philosophically aligned with Democratic and progressive talking points than anything the President says, believes, or advocates. He just believes that killing people is a terrific policy, and neither the Democrats nor the President advocate that.
Addendum: Yes, it is true that both President Trump and the shooter use the term “invasion,” and to many critics this single convergence is sufficient to claim that the President is “responsible” for the El Paso shooting. “Invasion” is a word, not a theory or a philosophy, and the two apply it differently. President Trump has used it to describe illegal immigration, for which it is a defensible, if inflammatory, description.
Describing legal immigration as an invasion is not defensible—invasions are not legal—and is materially different. Ironically, it is the President’s foes, who intentionally refuse to distinguish between the validity of illegal and legal immigration—just like the shooter!—who have spread the lie that the President has called immigration itself “an invasion.”