Photo: Vigil in El Paso to mourn fascist shooting that left 22 dead
By The Incendiary Editorial Board (Editor’s Note – the headline has been updated to accurately reflect our position)
On Saturday, a white nationalist went on a fascist shooting rampage at a Walmart in the Cielo Vista shopping complex in El Paso, Texas, killing at least twenty-two and injuring dozens more. Many of the deceased are Chicanos from El Paso, and seven so far have been confirmed as Mexican citizens.
The perpetrator of the massacre was identified as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old white man from Allen, Texas. He drove to El Paso to launch an attack in “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” as stated in a manifesto posted minutes before the attack on 8chan, a reactionary online forum. He targeted El Paso as a border city and as a site of border crossing, but it should not be assumed that the Mexican nationals killed were immigrants; people travel back and forth across the border daily.
In his manifesto, Crusius asserts his opposition to “race-mixing,” a clear attack on the Chicano nation that exists between the US and Mexico. One of his victims was Jordan Arredondo, a white woman married to a Chicano, who died shielding her now orphaned 2-month-old with her body. Her husband Andre is also among the dead.
Yesterday, Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard called the shooting “an act of terrorism against the Mexican-American community and Mexican nationals in the United States.” This emphasis on the nationality of the victims goes contrary to the US bourgeois media’s portrayal of them as “Latino.” Ebrard went on to say that Mexican authorities would be seeking Crusius’s extradition.
The same night as the El Paso shooting, in Dayton, Ohio, Connor Betts shot and killed his sister and her Black companion outside of a nightclub primarily frequented by the Black community. The shooter entered in the building and killed seven others, five of them Black. Emerging reports show he claimed to be a “leftist” who had said he would vote for Elizabeth Warren.
Both shootings come less than a week after 19-year-old Santino William Legan opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, killing three and injuring thirteen more, mostly children. White supremacist readings were discovered at Legan’s residence, and the day of the shooting he made a post to Instagram about a book popular among fascists and white supremacists.
All three of these shooters should be understood as anti-people reactionaries, regardless of whether they support Donald Trump or the Democrats. They are the result of an economic base of imperialism that breeds alienation and glorifies the violent subjugation of others. Both the El Paso and Dayton shooter reference economics in their writings.
In the wake of these tragedies, the masses search for answers. Slimy bourgeois politicians like Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, have nothing to offer but lies. O’Rourke is opportunistically exploiting the tragedy to boost his poor polling numbers by linking Trump’s rhetoric about “invasions” to Crusius’s manifesto.
While O’Rourke’s ploy will likely fool some, tracing the cause of these shootings to Trump’s rhetoric overlooks the fact that these shootings have been happening for much longer than the past few years.
Like O’Rourke, Trump intends to use the tragedy for his own personal ends. He announced Monday that he plans to visit El Paso on Wednesday, dishonoring the dead and insulting the mourners with his presence. He has blamed the shootings on “mental illness” and has called for social media companies to “develop tools to detect mass shooters before they strike.”
Republicans blame the mental health of the shooters, and Democrats respond by blaming gun access. All three shooters purchased their firearms legally; Betts purchased his gun from a Texas online retailer, and Legan had smuggled his gun into California illegally from Nevada.
The masses have grown weary of these hollow calls for gun law reforms, which have done nothing to curb the upward trend of mass shootings. This frustration boiled over at a Sunday night vigil for the victims of the Dayton shooting. When Governor Mike DeWine attempted to speak, the crowd repeatedly yelled, “Do something!”
After DeWine (a Republican) left the stage, Democrat Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley chastised the crowd for being disrespectful. “There will be time to take action but let us come together as a community as we work to heal,” she said. Democrats and Republicans will insist on their differences in government policy when it comes to mass shootings, but they are the same in their fear and loathing of the unruly masses.
Bourgeois politicians and their supporters will say anything to distract from the settler-colonial history of the US and its modern imperialism. The borders of the contemporary US were expanded in part by settlers who would squat on Indigenous land and go on mass shootings of Indigenous peoples, and when those Indigenous nations retaliated the US military would declare war.
The US is now a prison-house of nations, which includes the internal colonies of the Chicano Nation in the southwest and the Black Nation in the south. The El Paso and Gilroy shootings occurred in Chicano territory, and both specifically targeted immigrants and Chicano people. Likewise, the Dayton shooter killed mostly Black people. All were radicalized by the economic conditions that have given rise to fascism.
US imperialism produces fascism as it enters deepening crisis and stumbles from war to war. Fascism’s push towards more reactionary coercive means, as well as its negation of bourgeois democracy, makes it even more unstable. The terrifying chaos that unfolds in the course of a mass shooting is a tiny reflection of the worldwide havoc wreaked by US imperialism, the number one enemy of the world’s people.
Combat and Resist
The day of the El Paso shooting, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took the opportunity to warn “antifa” (antifascists) not to come to Texas. “Stay out of Texas, basically,” Patrick said. “We don’t need them coming in on Sept. 1. We didn’t need them coming in before this happened,” referring to a “border resistance convergence” planned for September, promoted by anarchist news outlet ItsGoingDown.
This anarchist-led caravan opportunistically taking a “tour” to El Paso may appear as antifascism to reactionaries, but it is a sham, a parody of the antifascism needed to combat and resist the fascism that leads to mass shootings. The petit-bourgeois idealism of anarchism and its apathy in regards to principles and discipline cannot lead antifascists against the civilian fascist movement, let alone the greater fascist agencies of US imperialism like Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Only the revolutionary ideology of Maoism can transform the largely disorganized antifascist movement in the US today into an organized paramilitary force capable of combating and resisting fascism in all its forms.
Patrick is not the only Texas politician to condemn antifascism recently. Texas senator Ted Cruz, along with senator Bill Cassidy, introduced a non-binding resolution on July 21 to label “ANTIFA” as “terrorists,” prompting Trump to tweet his support for the idea. These mass shootings and denunciations of antifascism should not discourage antifascists from organizing against these threats, but they should clarify the urgent necessity to take up the fight.
Crusius was taken in alive, but he wrote in his manifesto, “If not killed by the police, I’ll probably be gunned down by one of the invaders.” The oppressed Chicano nation should make good on Crusius’s fear and begin to unite with the project of reconstituting the Communist Party in US and organize people’s militias that can defend against fascists and strike back when they dare to step foot in oppressed nations neighborhoods, eventually leading a Red Army that can go to war against US imperialism.
It is imperative that antifascism not be limited to defensive actions, but antifascists must also go on the offensive against those who preach the fascist views that radicalize many mass shooters. This has been seen in combative street actions that have prevented fascist and reactionary marches from happening as well as the vandalizing of fascists’ homes and workplaces. Each blow struck against fascists weakens their resolve to organize and limits their ability to recruit and politicize men like Crusius and Legan.
Antifascists should mourn with the masses at the lives lost in these tragedies. All over the country, people are demanding an end to these attacks, and it is the duty of Communists to organize this rage and transform it into a People’s War that will put an end to these fascist, racist mass shootings once and for all.