Gov. Greg Abbott shrugs off racist fundraising letter he sent day before El Paso shooting


Gov. Greg Abbott is getting called out for using 'white supremacist rhetoric' in a letter designed to raise money for his campaign.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas sent a racist fundraising appeal demonizing migrants as an invasionary force hours before the mass shooting in El Paso on Aug. 3, but he doesn't think he should be held responsible.

On Aug. 2, Abbott sent a fundraising letter to Republicans complaining that large numbers of "illegal immigrants" were apprehended crossing the Mexican border into Texas, imperiling the state.

"If we're going to DEFEND Texas, we'll need to take matters into our own hands," Abbott's letter stated.

The letter includes racist rhetoric used repeatedly by Trump and the GOP about an "invasion" at the southern border, used to justify harsh immigration policies and efforts to erect a southern border wall, stating that the number of arrests "amounts to the entire population of Galveston — every three weeks. In just six months, we'd add the population of Arlington!"

A day after the letter was distributed, a shooter targeted a Walmart in El Paso. In his murderous rampage, 22 people were shot and killed, and 24 others were injured. The shooter left an online manifesto with language similar to that in Abbott's letter, lamenting an "invasion" from Mexican immigrants through "open borders."

Abbott has now refused the opportunity to take responsibility for the letter and tried to distance himself from it, without directly condemning its content.

On Thursday, Abbott addressed the letter and its timing.

"I did get the chance to visit with the El Paso delegation and help them understand that mistakes were made and course correction has been made," he said.

The comments lacked detail.

"In his short remarks, Abbott didn’t address the specific language of the letter, what mistakes were made or what course correction has been made on his end," the Texas Tribune noted.

The non-apology was criticized by other Texans.

"Governor Abbott refuses to apologize for this racist fundraising mailer and won’t answer questions about ending his racist rhetoric immediately," said Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. "Governor Abbott and the Republican Party's white supremacist rhetoric, like that seen in Abbott’s fundraising mailer the day before the El Paso shooting, continues to be a major part of the problem."

Abbott also has yet to address a 2015 tweet that was unearthed and widely circulated after the shooting, in which he lamented that he was "EMBARASSED" that Texas was second in the nation for new gun purchases. "Let's pick up the pace Texans," he wrote, tagging the NRA.

Even if Abbott truly has regrets about the anti-immigrant letter, it was sent after several high-profile shootings and attacks involving the demonization of immigrants.

There have been dozens of criminal cases over the last few years in which racist attackers invoked immigration while targeting others, including many cases where Trump was invoked.

The mass murderer who killed 49 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, left a manifesto attacking immigration and diversity.

Abbott's letter was sent out after all those incidents were widely publicized. He chose — as have many other Republicans — to use it for political gain anyway.

And he isn't sorry about it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.