The manifesto written by accused El Paso mass killer Patrick Crusius is the basis for the argument that the shootings were inspired by President Trump. Media commentators, Democratic presidential candidates, and all types of Trump critics have made that case in the days since the murders.
Much discussion was spurred by an article in the New York Times with the headline, “El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language.” The story quoted just 28 words of the nearly 2,400-word manifesto. It noted that Crusius specifically wrote that his views “predate Trump.” And it warned that “linking political speech, however heated, to the specific acts of ruthless mass killers is a fraught exercise.” Nevertheless, the Times declared that even “if Mr. Trump did not originally inspire the gunman, he has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once consigned to the fringes of American society.”
Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native, was much more blunt. “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism,” O’Rourke tweeted to the president.
So what did Crusius actually write? The Times story did not link to the manifesto, nor did many other media accounts. Most news organizations decided that even though the manifesto is clearly part of the El Paso story, they should not give Crusius the exposure he sought by linking to its full text. So many stories have included just a few snippets from the document. (The Washington Examiner has also decided not to link to the manifesto, but it can be easily found on the internet.)
But since the manifesto has become such an important part of the moment’s political debate, it is worth looking at the whole thing. And the impression one gets after reading the manifesto is quite different than some press accounts.
First, to be clear: The manifesto is insane. Part of it discussed commonly debated issues such as the environment and the economy in ways that are well within the boundaries of political conversation going on today — indeed, that might have come out of the New York Times or many other outlets. Other parts of it mixed in theories on immigration from far right circles in Europe and the U.S. Then it threw in beliefs on “race-mixing” straight from the fever swamps. And then it concluded that the solution is to murder Hispanic immigrants, going on to debate whether an AK-47 or an AR-15 would best do the job. By that point, Crusius had veered far from both reality and basic humanity.
But the question is, was he inspired by President Trump? It is hard to make that case looking at the manifesto in its entirety.
Crusius worried about many things, if the manifesto is any indication. He certainly worried about immigration, but also about automation. About job losses. About a universal basic income. Oil drilling. Urban sprawl. Watersheds. Plastic waste. Paper waste. A blue Texas. College debt. Recycling. Healthcare. Sustainability. And more. Large portions of the manifesto simply could not be more un-Trumpian.
Crusius began the manifesto by expressing support for Brenton Tarrant, the man who in March murdered 51 people and wounded 49 others in attacks on a mosque and an Islamic center in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tarrant wrote a 74-page manifesto entitled “The Great Replacement” that dwelled on demographic change in Europe, which Tarrant said was experiencing an “invasion” of immigrants with higher fertility rates than native Europeans. “This crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility is an assault on the European people that, if not combated, will ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people,” Tarrant wrote.
Tarrant’s writing deeply affected Crusius. The first words of Crusius’ manifesto were, “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto.” Crusius went on to write that, “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion* of Texas. … I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.” Later, Crusius referred to Hispanic immigrants as “invaders who also have close to the highest birthrate of all ethnicities in America,” and noted: “Actually, the Hispanic community was not my target before I read ‘The Great Replacement.'”
Crusius was clearly inspired in large part by Tarrant, who in turn said he was inspired by seeing demographic change in France when he traveled to Europe in 2017.
With that in the background, Crusius expressed deep concerns about politics in the U.S. One of the “biggest betrayals” in history, he wrote, was “the takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations.” Crusius said he could write “a ten page essay on all the damage these corporations have caused.” But the biggest problem, he said, was a dangerous political mix: “Due to the death of the baby boomers, the increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric of the right and the ever increasing Hispanic population, America will soon become a one party-state.”
That one party, of course, was the Democratic Party. And although Crusius had little use for Republicans, he was most angry about what he had seen in the recent Democratic presidential debates:
They intend to use open borders, free healthcare for illegals, citizenship and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters. With policies like these, the Hispanic support for Democrats will likely become nearly unanimous in the future. The heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold. Losing Texas and a few other states with heavy Hispanic population to the Democrats is all it would take for them to win nearly every presidential election. Although the Republican Party is also terrible. Many factions within the Republican Party are pro-corporation. Pro-corporation = pro-immigration. But some factions within the Republican Party don’t prioritize corporations over our future. So the Democrats are nearly unanimous with their support of immigration while the Republicans are divided over it. At least with Republicans, the process of mass immigration and citizenship can be greatly reduced.
That is a not-inaccurate restatement of some of the calculations that have been going on in both Republican and Democratic strategy rooms around the country for many years, certainly before the emergence of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.
Crusius expressed a number of reasons for his anxiety about immigration. Among them was the growth of automation in the American economy. “Continued immigration will make one of the biggest issues of our time, automation, so much worse,” Crusius wrote. Crusius had obviously read reports that millions of American jobs will be lost to automation in coming years. He noted that while “some people will be retrained … most will not.”
Crusius felt automation would take away his future, too. “My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist,” he wrote. “The job of my dreams will likely be automated.”
The automation threat, Crusius continued, means the U.S. “will have to initiate a basic universal income to prevent widespread poverty and civil unrest as people lose their jobs.” (Crusius shared an interest in universal basic income, or UBI, and a pessimism about job retraining, with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.) Crusius’ idea was that fewer “invaders” meant more resources for government programs. “Achieving ambitious social projects like universal healthcare and UBI would become far more likely to succeed if tens of millions of dependents are removed,” he wrote.
Then there was education, the price of college, and the job market. “The cost of college degrees has exploded as their value has plummeted,” Crusius wrote. As a result, “a generation of indebted, overqualified students [are] filling menial, low paying, and unfulfilling jobs.” A high school degree used to be “worth something,” he said. No longer.
And then, the environment. Americans enjoy an “incredible” quality of life, Crusius wrote, but “our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country.” Corporations, he said, are destroying the environment by “shamelessly over-harvesting resources.”
Crusius cited a children’s book by Dr. Seuss, The Lorax, which dealt with environmental devastation. It was published in 1971 and was made into a successful movie in 2012, when Crusius was 14. “This phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic ‘The Lorax,'” Crusius wrote. “Water sheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent.”
There was more: “Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land,” Crusius wrote. And: “We even use God knows how many trees worth of paper towels just [to] wipe water off our hands.”
After his environmental concerns, Crusius, incredibly, moved to a discussion of the AK-47 versus the AR-15. And then to his racial theories. “I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems,” he wrote. “Racial diversity will disappear as either race mixing or genocide will take place. But the idea of deporting or murdering all non-white Americans is horrific. Many have been here at least as long as the whites, and have done as much to build our country.” Crusius then suggested dividing America into a “confederacy of territories” by race.
Crusius ended the manifesto by saying he expected to be killed in the attack he would allegedly carry out on Saturday. As it turned out, the shooter was not, and he is now behind bars, charged with killing 22 people and wounding 26 others. He said his actions would be misunderstood as being tied to Trump.
“My ideology has not changed for several years,” Crusius wrote. “My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I [am] putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.”
That was the only time Trump appeared in the manifesto, and it appears clear that Crusius borrowed his “fake news” characterization of the news media from the president. But that is not what Trump’s critics have charged. They have charged that Trump inspired Crusius to kill. They have charged it so often in the last few days that it has hardened into a general perception that Crusius was inspired by the president. But read the manifesto. It’s just not there.
*The word “invasion” has been used in connection with illegal immigration since long before the president ran for office. In the 1990s, for example, the state of California unsuccessfully sued the federal government, claiming the government did not protect states from an “invasion” of illegal immigrants. In 2010, the state of Arizona also unsuccessfully challenged the federal government over a similar “invasion.” The word was also used, well before Trump, in general commentary, usually by those who sought to restrict immigration levels into the United States. And more generally, too: Bobby Jindal, the son of immigrants and governor of Louisiana who ended his 2016 presidential campaign with a bitter attack on Trump, used to say that “immigration without assimilation is invasion.”