US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



Trump must denounce white nationalist domestic terrorism

Aug 8, 2019

El Paso-2

Phoenix, AZ - Following the horrific domestic terror attack in El Paso, Texas, the US Human Rights Network released the following statement calling for Donald Trump to take responsibility for his dangerous, racist rhetoric and denounce white nationalist violence.

Domestic terrorist attacks and hate crimes committed by white nationalists in the US have been increasing since the current President took office in 2017. Indeed, Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was marked by divisive, dehumanizing, and racist rhetoric, which coincided with the rapid growth of white nationalist groups in the United States. The US Human Rights Network is calling on the President, the federal government, members of Congress, state and local governments, and mainstream media outlets in the US to strongly condemn fascism, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance, and to recognize that the violent, racist, xenophobic policies coming from the White House and accompanying rhetoric coming from the President himself, encourage and legitimize racist acts of violence.

Last weekend’s horrific shooting in El Paso, Texas was committed by a white nationalist male who published a manifesto stating: “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The shooter drove ten hours across the state of Texas to target El Paso, a city on the US-Mexico border with an 80% Hispanic population. Seven of the 22 people who were murdered in El Paso were Mexican nationals. Reports indicate that the majority of victims were people of Latinx heritage. The El Paso shooting was followed by a copycat shooting just hours later, resulting in nine more murders of innocent people in Dayton, Ohio.

While the nation grieves, we must recognize that these are not isolated incidents. We must name the shooting in El Paso for what it is: a white nationalist domestic terror attack. This attack and many others we have seen in the last few years, including but not limited to the Charlottesville, VA attack resulting in the murder of activist Heather Heyer, and the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA resulting in the murder of 11 worshippers, are “MAGA” inspired hate crimes. 

The US President, Donald Trump, has repeatedly failed to fully denounce white nationalist violence. He has failed to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups. He has provided clear targets for violence in the form of women, women leaders, women of color, Black people, Latinx communities, Indigenous Peoples, immigrant communities, Muslim communities, and LGBTQI communities. His policies like the Muslim Ban and Family Separation have targeted specific racial communities in this country and around the world. He has called Mexican people “rapists.” He has called the humanitarian crisis at our Southern border “an invasion.” He has used language to purposefully incite fear, hatred, and violence against women and communities of color. He has encouraged fans at his rallies to commit acts of violence against dissenters. He has coined racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic chants and slogans to mobilize his followers as calls to action: “Lock her up,” “Build the wall,” and “Send her back,” to name a few.

Trump’s rhetoric has lethal consequences. History has shown us what happens when leaders mobilize the public around false narratives rooted in racism, scapegoating, and fear-mongering, and when such views are normalized and treated as facts. We cannot allow more deaths to occur at the hands of white nationalist, white supremacist terrorists. We must recognize that what we have seen under the Trump Administration is interconnected and part of a growing anti-democratic movement: the suppression of human rights, the suppression of voting rights, increased gerrymandering, the criminalization of activists and social movements, increased white nationalist terrorist attacks, increased murders and violent physical attacks against marginalized groups, increased marches by white nationalist and white supremacist groups, and the White House’s own racist rhetoric and policies. We are facing a growing white nationalist movement in the US, legitimized and mobilized by Donald Trump.

We echo the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Special Rapporteur E. Tendayi Achiume who said, speaking jointly, “The increasing use of divisive language and attempts to marginalise racial, ethnic and religious minorities in political speech has functioned as a call to action, facilitating violence, intolerance and bigotry. The connections between mass shootings and white extremist ideology are well-established, and celebration of these atrocities in white nationalist social media is common. [...] The use of race to instill fear, gain votes or power, or mask injustices must stop. Those with privilege and power have a heightened responsibility to mitigate, not encourage, racism, intolerance, and bigotry. Communities and leaders throughout the United States should take seriously their obligations to prevent further tragedies and protect the human rights of all equally and without condition.” [1]

The US Human Rights Network calls on Trump and his administration to publicly take responsibility for the dehumanizing and scapegoating language that he has used to mobilize his voters; publicly apologize for his racist rhetoric; denounce all acts of racism, fascism, and violence; reinforce that his past use of racist, violent rhetoric was a mistake; immediately end the use of such language, and hold any perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions to the full extent of the law. In addition, we demand that the El Paso shooter be charged with domestic terrorism, and we urge the federal government to acknowledge the growing white nationalist movement in the US and allocate additional resources to stop further attacks from occurring, including addressing the particular threat that military-grade weapons play in these racially-motivated attacks. 

We stand with El Paso, Dayton, Gilroy, the victims, their families, their communities, and activists around the country advocating for gun control and for the human rights and human dignity of all people. In the face of white nationalist domestic terrorism, we will continue to advocate for the human rights of all and support our members on the frontlines who fight racism, fascism, and other forms of intolerance in their communities. 

The USHRN Coordinating Center sends our love and support to our members in El Paso and Dayton: Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee; Hope Border Institute; Texas RioGrande Legal Aid; and University of Dayton. We stand with you in the movement to protect human rights and fight white nationalism and white supremacy. 

[1] United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: US shootings: Use of racist language to gain votes or power must stop, say UN rights experts