This past Friday, the Kansas US Attorney’s Office filed federal charges against three men who had been actively conspiring to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City, Kansas, where 120 Somali Muslim refugees live and worship. The men, who are members of an anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group called The Crusaders, had planned to carry out their attacks on the day after the November election.
The US Attorney’s formal complaint detailing the Kansas plot provides terrifying, insights about the extent of the hate and bigotry targeting Muslim communities. In it, we learn about the active surveillance and stockpiling of ammunition and firearms that the three suspects—Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright, and Patrick Stein—engaged in for at least eight months. For example, on one surveillance mission, Stein yelled at Somali women who were wearing the hijab, calling them “fucking raghead bitches.” On a conference call with his co-conspirators, Stein declared that “when we go on operations there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a 1-year-old, I’m serious.” On another call, Stein stated: “The only fucking way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherfucker. Unless a lot more people in this country wake up and smell the fucking coffee and decide they want this country back…. we might be too late, if they do wake up…. I think we can get it done. But it ain’t going to be nothing nice about it.”
In the current political season, groups like the Crusaders are acting more visibly and brazenly, according to an investigation by reporters Sarah Posner and David Neiwert. They write in Mother Jones: “Trump’s tacit welcoming of…hate groups into mainstream American politics will have long-lasting consequences, according to these groups’ own leaders, regardless of the election outcome.”
These days, I find myself more worried about the aftermath of the election than the election itself. Regardless of who prevails, the climate of divisiveness and hostility in the country—which has in its crosshairs those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim—won’t disappear overnight. What happened in Kansas is not an anomaly but rather an outgrowth of the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim climate in our nation.
Indeed, in Kansas, where many Somali refugees work in meatpacking factories, the governor has refused to admit Syrian refugees, and anti–immigrant voter legislation, spurred on by Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who is also the author of the Arizona “show me your papers” law) is creating voting barriers.