What an American Terrorist Looks Like
“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 2019 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 August 2019 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 former creative director at YES!, where she directed artistic and visual components of YES! Magazine, and drove branding across the organization for nearly 15 years. She specializes in infographic research and design, and currently works with The Nation, in addition to YES! She previously worked at The Seattle Times, The Virginian-Pilot, Scripps Howard Newspapers, Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, The Connecticut Post, The San Diego Tribune, The Honolulu Advertiser. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and currently serves on the board of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association. Tracy speaks English.