El Paso shooting hits close to home
August 14, 2019
Back when you could do it with little or no hassle, I remember casually walking across the bridge (and therefore the border) between downtown El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
As I left the U.S. side, lively Spanish music filled the air, slowly fading into the background as I made my way across the border. But by the time I had reached the south side of the bridge, I could hear music again — only this time, it was American-style rock ’n’ roll filling the streets of Juarez.
When I heard people explaining the overlapping nature of these two border cities last week, after 15 Americans and seven Mexicans were killed in the Walmart mass shooting, I thought back to that moment when I realized the U.S.-Mexico border isn’t the boundary a lot of people think it is. Sure, it’s a dividing line between two countries, but it doesn’t divide the cultures or the economies that encompass this region.
When a white nationalist decided to drive across Texas to kill a bunch of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, he easily found his mark in El Paso. And in doing so, he demonstrated just how deadly racism can be.
Of course, we should have figured that out long ago. This isn’t the first race-based mass shooting we’ve seen lately. Jews, Arabs, African-Americans and others have been targeted by white American men who are either sick in the head or so filled with hate they can’t see straight. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Latinos would be targeted too, especially given the rhetoric coming out of our racist-in-chief.
El Paso’s massacre hits close to home for New Mexicans. It’s just a few miles away from our southern border.
The tensions created by the massacre easily crossed state lines. In Roswell, where a majority of the city’s residents are Hispanic, the Walmart there was evacuated last week for fear of a shooter on the way to the store. It was a false alarm, but it couldn’t be taken lightly given the tone of our times.
El Paso’s mass shooting, and the manifesto behind it, has driven home the reality that something similar could happen here, and for much the same reason: We’re a heavily Hispanic state, with close ties to Mexico. Some people hate us for that.
Most Americans celebrate or at least tolerate diversity. We’ve always been a pluralistic society and nearly all of us have come to either accept or embrace that. But there are a few who hate it, or fear it so much they’ve become paranoid, and they’ve declared war on Americans who don’t look or act like them.
As for the peace-loving majority of Americans, we have to decide just how much political nonsense we’re willing to put up with.
Right now Congress is recessed for the rest of the month — just enough time for this latest outrage over assault weapons to subside — before coming back into session, where pretending to work for the people is as good as it gets.
Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at: