Bigotry makes politicians ‘complicit in the violence that follows’ : UN independent experts

UN Photo The “Non-Violence” (or “Knotted Gun”) sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd on display at the UN Visitors’ Plaza.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Responding to the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio on Saturday, a group of independent UN experts has called out the “increased use of divisive language”, as well as attempts to marginalise racial, ethnic and religious minorities”, by some politicians and leaders.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent stated that they “encourage the United States to address such violence without delay as a matter of white supremacy and racism”, adding that the refusal to take “immediate and direct action” to prevent further acts of domestic terrorism, exacerbates complicity in the violence.

In the joint statement, E. Tendayi Achiume, independent expert, or Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, also condemned the use of hate speech in political discourse, declaring that “intolerance, bigotry and racism by politicians and leaders to secure or maintain popular support renders those individuals complicit in the violence that follows.”

‘Well-established connections’ between mass shootings and white extremism

“The United States must recognise the direct impact that racism, xenophobia and intolerance have in promoting violence and in creating fear and instability in ethnic and religious minority communities”, Ahmed Reid, chairperson of the Working Group of Experts said on Wednesday, in response to the massacres in Dayton, Ohio, and the US-Mexican border city of El Paso. “Perpetuating racism perpetuates violence.”

The Group questioned the theory, voiced by several leading US politicians this week, that the proliferation of mass shootings can be explained by mental illness, citing a recent statement from the American Psychological Association, and encouraged the US to “address such violence without delay as a matter of white supremacy and racism”, arguing that the “connections between mass shootings and white extremist ideology are well-established”.

According to the experts, such atrocities are commonly celebrated on white nationalist media platforms, and ideas promoted by white nationalist and populist movements, have inspired the attackers in several mass shootings, as reflected in their manifestos and social media posts.

The Special Rapporteur, and the members of the Working Group, offered their condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those murdered in the shootings.

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