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What an American Terrorist Looks Like

Despite racist and anti-immigrant scapegoating, data shows that most American terrorists are resentful White men inspired by White supremacist and misogynist rhetoric.

The rise in these public-place mass shootings and extremist violence correlates with the rise in rhetoric on White supremacy, xenophobia, and misogyny. (Photo: YES! Infographic by Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz)

The rise in these public-place mass shootings and extremist violence correlates with the rise in rhetoric on White supremacy, xenophobia, and misogyny. (Photo: YES! Infographic by Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz)

"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?

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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

Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz is editorial director of YES! Magazine.

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