Dangerous Speech and White Supremacist Violence

The US suffered two mass shootings within the span of 12 hours this weekend – in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio – with a combined total of more than 30 deaths. As with several other massacres in the past year, the attacker in the El Paso shooting appears to have online ties with white supremacist ideology and published a racist screed prior to his attack.

Similarly to other recent killers, his “manifesto” argues that immigrants are invading America, and his people (whites) will be destroyed. The purpose of the document is to spread his violent ideas and promote more killing, and in doing so, he echoes immigration conspiracies pushed by President Trump and other influential conservative politicians and commentators.

We’ll be publishing more on the role of Dangerous Speech in this attack, but we’ve written on the ideas espoused by this killer many times in the past.

Most recently, Lucas Wright wrote about the promotion of fear and threat as a way of spreading violent conspiracies and justifying violence.

For more on how far-right ideas have worked their way into mainstream institutions, see this piece by Sean Manion.

The philosopher David Livingstone Smith wrote for our blog last year, arguing that President Trump’s language echoes America’s history of white supremacy.

Finally, this blog post by Susan Benesch explains how Trump’s description of immigrants as an infestation normalizes cruel treatment of immigrants by the government and violence against them by others.

None of these articles are about the attack in El Paso, but taken together, they show how the same racist, extremist ideas can be found in the media, the White House, and the written words of terrorists.