While America Reels in the Wake of the Most Recent Acts of Domestic Terrorism by White Supremacists, We Recall the 100th Anniversary of the “Red Summer of 1919” When Some of the Worst Violence in U.S. History Against African Americans Took Place
On July 28, a 19-year-old White man named Santino William Legan opened fire at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California killing three people and injuring 13 others before taking his own life.
As the Daily Beast reported, just before the shooting Legan “posted a picture with a caption that told followers to read a 19th-century, proto-fascist book.” As the site explained:
“The book, which is repeatedly recommended alongside works by Hitler and other fascists on forums like 8chan, is full of anti-Semitic, sexist and White supremacist ideology. The book glorifies ‘Aryan’ men, condemns intermarriage between races, and defends violence based on bogus eugenicist tropes.”
Saturday, a 21-year-old White man identified by the police as Patrick Crusius walked into a crowded Walmart in El Paso and opened fire, killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others, some children. It was a massacre.
As The New York Times reported, “Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call” about the shooting at the Walmart, “a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.” CNN reports that authorities are investigating the racist screed which “police believe” was posted by Crusius.
The manifesto is heavily anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic. It’s riddled with the fear of White “displacement” and fear that changing demographics will favor Democrats and turn America into “a one party-state.”
And then on Sunday, a 24-year-old man named Connor Betts opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people and injuring at least 27 others. According to news reports, most of those killed were Black.
We are reminded that this summer is the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer,” when some of the worst violence in U.S. History against African Americans took place in 1919, mostly in cities and towns across the South and Northeast. Violent anti-Black White supremacists rioted in cities across the country, killing many, just as the Great Migration — the mass migration of millions of Black people mostly from the rural South to the urban North — was getting underway. Violence is the way the White terrorists respond to demographic shifts and demographic threat.
It’s not simply a matter of whether Trump’s rhetoric, or that of any other politician, led these shooters to do what they did. Maybe. It is also about recognizing that all of these people are on the same team and share the same mission and eat from the same philosophical trough. It’s just that their methods differ. The White supremacist terrorists and the White supremacist policymakers are bound at the hip.
Please note: This national nightmare is NOT being brought by Muslims, BlackAmericans. Brown peoples or the poor. It is being committed by White Americans urged on by a sick supremacist ideology and Americans in positions of influence and power.
We continue to see how racism against Black Americans provides a foundation for prejudice against other communities of color today.