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The White Supremacist Kansas City Shooting and the Need for Global Solidarity

On February 22, a white man shot two Indian men in a bar in Kansas City.

Earlier in the night, the shooter, Adam Purinton, had targeted the men with racial slurs; as he opened fire, he reportedly shouted “Get out of my country.” One of the men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was killed. His friend, Alok Madasani — as well as a bystander who tried to intervene— sustained serious injuries. 

The Trump administration has denied that their racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies had anything to do with the shootings: Sean Spicer has conveniently ignored the connection between Purinton’s repeated inquiries into the men’s immigration status before he opened fire, and the regime’s own rampant racism. Yet we must hold the stokers of anti-immigrant and Islamophobic sentiment accountable for crimes committed in the name of xenophobic nationalism. And white Americans must hold ourselves accountable in standing for the rights of people of color. 

It’s not the first fatal hate crime against Indian and other South Asian Americans. Since the inception of the War on Terror, South Asians of all religions have borne the brunt of rising tides of Islamophobia, xenophobia, and anti-brown racism. It is, however, the first documented hate-motivated murder of the Trump regime, and that matters. It matters for the millions of South Asian and Muslim Americans already living under the terror of white-supremacist American governments past and present. And it matters that we mourn and remember this crime as part of the broader fight against xenophobic, ethnocentric, and fascist regimes the world over. 

I write this post from India, where the shootings were big news—perhaps just as big as in the United States. Among the coverage of the hate crime were acute fear for family and friends in the United States. There were also criticisms of the silence of the Trump government.

Some Indian commentators also critiqued the silence of the Indian government, including the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, about the shooting. One writer points out that, while there was a tweet from the Foreign Minister (and while the Consul general from India has met with the man who attempted to intervene in the shootings), the Indian government has largely remained mum in the face of the murder of an Indian citizen by what is effectively a foreign terrorist. As this article’s author argues, this potential omission challenges us to confront the affinities between different kinds of right-wing violence worldwide, and to stand as a global movement against xenophobic nationalism.

The writer speaks from a climate of Indian domestic right-wing politics in which members of some groups, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sena (RSS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have expressed admiration for Trump’s anti-Muslim and hyper-nationalist policies, including the Muslim ban. One such group, the extreme right Hindu Sena, even threw a birthday party for Trump in Delhi this summer. 

These organizations tend to be pro-capitalist and espouse a brand of nationalism which equates Indian identity with Hindu identity and casts Muslims and other religious minorities as “terrorists” or “anti-nationals” who risk lynching for supposed violations of dominant norms. Some American Trump supporters come from a similar right-wing perspective, as illustrated in the Hindus for Trump event in New Jersey this past October. So it makes sense that some members of these organizations and Trump, whose extensive business holdings in India are only matched by his Islamophobia, would find common ground. 

This is the context of global right-wing alliance in which the writer for The Daily O asks, “Does [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi feel hesitant over calling out xenophobia in the United States because it would draw parallels to events in India?”

The question reminds us that violent, capitalist ethnocentrism is a global issue, but also gives us hope that we can therefore wage a global struggle, as well. 

In terms of Purinton’s crime, those of us who are white in the U.S. must bear the greatest moral responsibility for fighting violence committed in our names. For regardless of the rallying of the global right behind Trump, the cruelest and most overwhelming fact of Kuchibhota’s death is the violence of white supremacy.

But if the global right is organized, we can be, too. We can take inspiration from the struggles against fascism and social injustice which continue to be waged in India—from the anti-caste activism of the Una movement to the struggles of indigenous leaders against state violence to student activism against the stifling of dissent in universities. And white Americans can similarly learn from the struggles of South Asian Americans leading fights for racial, economic, and gender justice in the United States.

In standing with American people of color as well as Indian and global struggles against fascism, we must— the white, the rich, the male, the non-Muslim— actively choose the collective project of social justice over some of our more narrow racial, class, or religio-nationalist interests. Masculinity and ethnocentrism, wealth and whiteness urge their beneficiaries to look out only for themselves. We will have to choose, instead, to look out for each other.

Reina Gattuso is passionate about empowering conversations around queerness, sexual ethics, and social movements with equal parts rhapsody and sass. Her writing has appeared at Time, Bitch, attn:, and The Washington Post. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Indian cinema, theater, and visual art at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

Reina Gattuso writes about her sex life for the good of human kind.

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