The Atlantic

A Murder in Trump's America

When a gunman shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, he acted alone—but such tragedies are abetted by politicians who fuel the resentments that produce them.
Source: Orlin Wagner / AP

Last Wednesday evening, a couple of regulars were drinking al fresco at Austins Bar and Grill, in Olathe, on the southwestern, Kansan outskirts of Kansas City. Some of the wait staff were said to know Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani as “the Jameson guys.” By the end of the night, one was dead, and the other wounded. I wrote a book about a similar crime that took place a decade and a half ago, in Texas. And I learned along the way that understanding a tragedy like the one in Kansas requires looking at the broader context of hate and fear in which it took place, and at their enablers.

Kuchibhotla and Madasani were Indian immigrants who worked at Garmin, the company behind the GPS technology that has helped to bind the world; it was founded in Kansas by a white American and a Taiwanese immigrant and is now based in Switzerland. Olathe, today a suburb popular with Indians, was incorporated in 1857 by a Virginia transplant who tended to the local Shawnee Indians—the other kind of “Indians”—as their doctor, and who was also a militantly pro-slavery man who served the Confederacy as a surgeon in the Civil War—yet not before deferring to the Shawnees and naming the town after their term for “beautiful.”

America, too, is beautiful in these layers and complexities and comings and goings; and some people don’t like that. On that Wednesday night, the Jameson guys began to be harassed by one of those self-appointed guardians of a simpler, purer country that never was. A white man named Adam W. Purinton wanted to know where they came from. Witnesses said the former Navy man was shouting racial slurs at the Jameson guys. Although reports suggested that Purinton was in bad shape lately

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