Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz: What an American Terrorist Looks Like
Ed. Note: Since President Trump has used the media attention on recent mass shootings to repeat his assertions that immigrants pose a threat to American citizens, we at Vox Populi are glad to refute his claims with a persuasive infograph created by Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz which shows that mass shootings are, for the most part, terroristic acts committed by young misogynistic males with a White Nationalist agenda. However, a caveat is in order. Although shootings like the recent ones in El Paso and Dayton are covered extensively in the media, mass shootings in the United States account for only a fraction of 1% of gun-related deaths. According to FBI statistics, gun violence is most common in poor urban areas and frequently associated with gang violence. The statistics in the infograph below omit shooting deaths attributed to gangs, as well as ones committed during a robbery, domestic dispute, accident, police action, or suicide. Let’s be clear: the problem is not just that right-wing terrorists can easily get their hands on automatic weapons; the problem is that anyone with a grievance, personal or political, can easily get his or her hands on a firearm. As progressives, we should keep our attention on the issue of gun-law reform and not be distracted by the reprehensible rhetoric of the president.
Despite racist and anti-immigrant scapegoating, data shows that most American terrorists are resentful White men inspired by White supremacist and misogynist rhetoric.
“Invasion.” President Trump has used that very word about immigration at the southern border 19 times at rallies since he took office, according to a recent USA Today analysis. And six tweets between October 2018 and June 2019 use the word “invasion” that way.
An arrest affidavit for 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, the man charged in the Aug. 3 mass shooting in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that left 22 people dead and 24 wounded, reportedly says Crusius told police he was targeting Mexicans. Crusius allegedly referenced wanting to stop a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas in a statement on a right-wing online messaging board about 20 minutes before the shooting.
In one week, between July 31 and August 3, three White men massacred and wounded dozens of people in Gilroy, California; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso. Media often jump to analysis of mass shootings around gun control and mental illness. But what about their connection to electoral politics? Or misogyny in the face of feminist movements?
A lot of data exists to answer some of these questions and challenge notions that a mass shooter is likely a jihadist, or a mentally ill person illegally stockpiling assault weapons. In fact, the rise in these public-place mass shootings and extremist violence correlates with the rise in rhetoric on White supremacy, xenophobia, and misogyny. In the data, a picture emerges of the American terrorist and what sets him off.
Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz is the creative director for YES! Media.
This article first appeared inYes! Magazine. Included in Vox Populi with permission.