2019-08-09 18:00:131 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Everyone is trying to distance themselves far away from the ideology of the El Paso gunman who killed 22 last Saturday at a Walmart and who has admitted he was targeting Mexicans. After making many racist remarks lately, Donald Trump is not claiming a connection to the gunman, and neither are three anti-immigration groups.
After the shooting in El Paso, Texas, a manifesto targeting immigrants was discovered on the website 8chan, where similar manifestos have been published in the past. The document, that is said to have screeds about immigrants and a warning of a "Hispanic invasion" of Texas, was posted just before the mass shooting and is believed to belong to the shooter.
The president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Dan Stein, tweeted hours after the shooting, making it clear the "tragic" event was not something they supported and urging others to "stand together against senseless rage and destructive impulses."
The organization has a goal to restrict immigration in the United States and shares links to studies and news stories regarding the negative side of immigration, such as the economy, public safety, and environmental costs, with around 300,000 followers on Twitter and 2.1 million more on Facebook.
Stein did not mention the manifesto, despite the fact the ideals shared in the manifesto seem to match some of FAIR's. Those same ideals have also been compared to some of Donald Trump's previous statements.
FAIR's president made sure to comment quickly regarding the El Paso shooting while saying nothing of the Dayton, Ohio, shooting that took place less than 24 hours later, but that one is not known to have immigration ties.
Two other groups with similar ideology, along with FAIR, are concerned about a possible response coming their way because of the shared views. These groups have helped provide the intellectual and ideological framework of the Trump administration's stance on immigration. These views have led to Trump being referred to as xenophobic and racist.
Stein ignored the connections between his group's ideology and that of the gunman's in an interview. He also raised doubt of whether it was the gunman who wrote the document and believes it's unfair to connect those views to the massacre.
"Any lunatic could, can take paragraphs strung together from many different places and try to rationalize irrational behavior,' said Stein, suggesting the gunman was mentally ill and accusing Democrats of attempting to exploit the situation to make gains politically.
"The fact that this alleged manifesto was picked up by people desperate for attention in the crowded Democratic [presidential] field before the blood was even cleaned off the floor tells you everything about the 2020 election," he added.
Democrats, including the presidential candidates, have indeed condemned the president for his part in this, with former Vice President Joe Biden saying Trump "fanned the flames of white supremacy."
The massacre came a few weeks after Trump had suggested four congresswomen of color "go back" to the countries they originated from, despite that country being the United States for three of them, and has also disparaged House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and criticized his district in Baltimore, claiming "it is a rodent-infested mess" with garbage strewn all around.
The gunman wasn't the first to pick up on some of Trump's immigration thoughts. The gunman who killed 11 in the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh last year talked of immigrant "invaders" while Trump has discussed the "invasion" of Central Americans.
The El Paso gunman worried that the United States was experiencing a "cultural and ethnic replacement" and worried immigrants would bury taxpayers with free health care, take over their jobs, and make the strain on environmental resources worse.
"If you have a guy who is going to be angry about immigration, have a killer offering reasons for shooting up immigrants, how could he not use reasons that have already been articulated by legitimate sources?" asked Mark Krikorian, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) executive director. He believes the manifesto is "remarkably well-written for a 21-year-old loner."
Krikorian tweeted after the shooting that "it takes a special kind of evil to shoot children" and said it appeared to be politically-motivated violence that was meant to be an act of terrorism.
"There's only so many concerns about immigration," he said. "Of course he's going to articulate reasons that already have been spelled out in great detail by immigration skeptics. I don't know how you avoid that."
Both FAIR and CIS, as well as Numbers USA, the other group to push back against being connected to the shooter's ideologies, have been founded by John Tanton, a Michigan doctor who supports eugenics.
The Southern Poverty Law Center includes FAIR and CIS on its list of hate groups, leading to CIS filing a lawsuit earlier this year, claiming the designation damaged the group's reputation.
FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman stated that their position is "everybody needs to moderate their tone." When asked about Trump's tone, he said, "Look, he needs to recognize that his words and his tweets carry a lot of consequences and, like everybody else, should be used judiciously."
Stein offered that "people can argue that Trump's style can be tamped down, and he could be more eloquent. But nothing Trump has ever said, ever articulated, in a million years could possibly justify or be used to rationalize the behavior in El Paso."
Stephen Miller and other Trump administration aides have met with the groups and asked them to share studies and data.
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