Twenty people are dead in a weekend shooting at an El Paso Wal-Mart. The incident is being called one of the worst attacks on Latinos in US history. The suspected shooter is in police custody, and posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online before the attack. Authorities are charging him with “domestic terrorism .”
Around the country, calls are growing for the US to starting taking white nationalism seriously. In July, FBI director Christopher Wray said the majority of the 100 “domestic terrorism” arrests made by the bureau this year involved white supremacists. And white supremacists were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks in the US from 2006 to 2016, far more than those committed by members of any other group, according the FBI and Homeland Security.
But even after Charlottesville, The Tree of Life Synagogue and now El Paso, conservatives in the US are not focused on this growing threat.
Instead, they are sounding the alarm about antifa. In July, two senators introduced a non-binding resolution to designate the group as “domestic terrorists.” Trump threw his support behind the move, tweeting that it would be much easier for the police to do their job if “the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats” were designated as “terrorists”.
Given antifa’s amorphous structure, rights groups said they are concerned that a terror designation would be used by the conservative movement to silence dissent. Activists also worry that a moral equivalency is being drawn between antifa and the alt-right movement, at a time when authorities should be working with community members to address growing white nationalist violence worldwide.