Can We Take Right-Wing Terrorism Seriously Now?

Just hours after the so-called president dropped an unsubtle threat of violence against his political enemies, a right-wing terrorist attack took the lives of (so far) 49 people in New Zealand. The shooter was a right-wing white nationalist/supremacist. C.J. Werleman writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that the killer’s social media profile “reads as the sum total of every counter-terrorism practitioner’s and academic’s fear, one that law-enforcement agencies throughout the Western hemisphere have long warned to be the No. 1 terror threat: right-wing extremism.”

Tried to warn,anyway. Here in the U.S., in 2009 political pressure from “conservatives” squelched a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security to federal, state and local law enforcement regarding the threat of terrorism from right-wing extremists groups. See The Terrorists Among Us (November 2018) and Malkin et al. Admit That “Conservatives” Are Right-Wing Extremists and Potential Terrorists (April 2009).

Back to Werleman:

More specifically, Tarrant represents the dangerous convergence between broken white men and extreme right-wing media, bearing in mind that 100 per cent of all terrorist attacks carried out on US soil in 2018 were carried out by right-wing extremists, with the Southern Poverty Law Centre crediting a “toxic combination of political polarisation, anti-immigrant sentiment and modern technologies that help spread propaganda online”.

This particular shooter was streaming a live video of the massacre as it happened and had uploaded a 74-page manifesto explaining his motivation. Josh Marshall:

This shooter is someone who is immersed in the great arc of anti-immigrant, racist hyper-nationalist discourse and paramilitary violence ranging from the rightist parties of Europe, various mass murderers like Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik to the white supremacist and neo-Nazi subculturewe have come to know so well in the US. Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Charleston. Dylann Roof’s massacre gets explicit reference as an inspiration and antecedent for this massacre.

Josh Marshall goes on to say that a thread running through white nationalist terrorism around the globe is an obsession with being replaced by minorities.

This will not surprise you.

The ringleader of a deadly terrorist attack on two New Zealand mosques left a 74-page manifesto explaining their rationale for going on a murder spree that has so far caused 49 deaths and many more serious injuries. In that manifesto, the author explains “that he supported President Donald Trump as a ‘symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose’ but not as a ‘policy maker.’” The overall tenor of the manifesto is a familiar argument about immigration causing a “white genocide.”

I’ve written about the confluence of white entitlement and right-wing politics a lot over the years, such as in this post from about a year ago. Individuals who get sucked into right-wing extremism tend to be people with a fanatical grievance — they aren’t getting something to which they believe they are entitled — who somehow find empowerment in nationalist symbolism and some authority figure who articulates their anger. Such people are dangerous. I don’t have anything new to add.

I will give the last word to Waheed Aly, speaking on Australian television.

A postscript — the ever brilliant Louie Gohmert thinks that such violence is so unnecessary and can be corrected with more death. (H/t Oliver Willis).

“There are courts, dispute resolutions, and legislatures to resolve controversies – there is no place for cold blooded murders. Though New Zealand does not have the death penalty, hopefully its people, through their justice system, will send the message loudly and clearly that such barbarity from anyone will not be tolerated,” he wrote.

Well, at least Louie didn’t claim the shooter wasn’t mentally ill.

12 thoughts on “Can We Take Right-Wing Terrorism Seriously Now?

  1. Remember folks, that the blistering report about American right-wing terrorism groups that our "conservatives" ( in quotes, because the only things they want to "conserve" are bigotry, fear, and hatred for women and pretty much all minorities) successfully squelched, was ordered not by the Democratic Obama administration, but by Republican POTUS George W. Bush's!

    That squelching has resulted in countless deaths in our country.  

    But our "conservatves" are not unhappy about that, because the vast majority of those who died, weren't white, so…

    It's after 10, and almost my bedtime, so I'll bid goodnight to you all!

    Hug a Muslim this weekend.  Or say and/or do something else kind and loving to any followers of Islam that you know.  Sadly, I'm now surrounded by non-Muslims where I'm at, and have lost contact with ones I knew in the past…r

    'Nuff said! 


  2. "Conservatism" as it has come to be known is based on, steeped in and fed by racism and bigotry.  There would be no republican party as it is today without racism.  Its as plain as day: they want to excuse right wing terrorism because it is the sentiment of a large portion of their base.  Those who find this stuff abhorrent but excuse it to support the GOP and keep it in power are just as complicit. 

    Trump, who has figured out these violent extremists are fellow travelers with the racism he and his family grew up with, can no more be expected to unequivocally condemn right wing extremism than a fish would condemn water.  Its what carried him into office, and its the buffer that keeps him there and protects him and his family from prosecution.  But make no mistake, this is not about expediency for him; Trump IS a racist and true believer in white nationalism and supremacy.  He has said so himself, directly and indirectly in many ways.

    Who would have ever thought, in the wake of the first black POTUS, that he would be followed by an overt racist in the white house?  But the reality is, even though Obama's presidency is done, replace by a white man fully representative of many of their sentiments, there is still deep resentment against the fact that there was a black president.  Thus the hatred and violence is being driven and motivated by clear undercurrents of revenge. 

    They're not done yet, and as long as they're not, we need to be prepared to call this stuff out for what it is, and not excuse those who pretend to be disgusted by it while doing everything they can, directly and indirectly, to benefit from it.

  3. Hug a Muslim this weekend. Or say and/or do something else kind and loving to any followers of Islam that you know.

    Amen to that. The thought that comes to mind about all this is “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9). Spiritual power is what’s required.

    Getting rid of the haters that run our country, and who provide inspiration to frustrated young men everywhere, is our task.

  4. Today we are aware of a human who would have remained anonymous except for behavior of horror which we could not ignore.  Yet every day, we ignore or even  tolerate or defend abhorrent behavior that is a precursor to mass shootings. In this case we can already identify a number of behaviors that might qualify as borderline abhorrent, especially if viewed as a group of behaviors.

    The New Zealand shooter wrote a manifesto or so it is reported.  In fact he mostly near plagiarized a manifesto.  The ideas in the manifesto, and even the word choices used, are hardly his own creation.  He has acquired these ideas and word preferences over time.  He seems to have narrowed his social contacts to those inspired by his brand of hate.  Like most of us, his social preference exclude those who voice disagreement with key words or ideas.  The social exclusion probably also extended to those who did not voice or write words or ideas that did not ring as well with him but were generally consistent with those of manifesto quality. His manifesto's quality did get poor reviews from the media for rambling and incoherent content.  In fairness the media did also report a choice of apparent source material with extreme hate based content. 

    The shooter also acquired weapons, ammunition, and other tactical gear.  Like the accumulation of ideas and words for his manifesto this took time, money, and skill acquisition.   Permits had to be obtained and business relationships needed to be established.  Weapons designed for target shooting or varmint control were not amassed.  The weapons that were bought and collected included ones consistent with acts of horror.  The group of people that own these sorts of weapons get shunned even by avid gun owners.  Within the group who sells, buys, amasses, and test fires these weapons a social subset exists who tolerate and encourage this expensive and time consuming activity.  The defense of this sort of behavior varies from country to country, but in a few countries, the defense of this behavior is institutionalized and organized.    

    New Zealand has a reputation as a friendly, remote, idealistic place with cultural diversity and tolerance.  The shooter faced probable near complete social isolation from hate groups except from those on internet hate sites.  That he included a camera with his gear and managed to get footage out and beyond internet controls also took time, skill, and money.  That his plan included this play to what he knew as a "fan base" and sure fire accomplices to spread his brand of terrorism.  Surely the intent of those providing connection  for internet to New Zealand to the was not to promote international terrorism.   Is that not, though, the essence of terrorism.  The bastardization of resources of good for evil intentions.  The mutation of the internet by the less than civil is ubiquitous.  Even with spam filters countless hours are spent uncluttering mail boxes.  The filtering technology seems always three steps behind the spammers.  Filters here faced similar problems of inadequacy in stopping the spread of the videos.

    The shooter stood on a mountains of incivility. The three example given here are just part of a great range of heaps of the unsavory.  His abhorrent actions were tacitly supported by layers of people whose actions range from mildly rude through despicable, to proud of being despicable, to almost as abhorrent, or wannabe more abhorrent than even he was.   So fostering civility might be all we need to do to eliminate terrorism and these horrible actions.  My recent experience is that the opposite trend, one toward rampant increases in rudeness and incivility.  This is not a good trend.  A corresponding rise in the whole continuum of uncivil behavior through the despicable and the abhorrent seems equally apparent.  So, point hopefully made,  please pardon my verbosity.  Thank you for making it to the end, a feat of perseverance for sure. 

  5. The piece of garbage who shot those innocent people during a moment of surrender to God is not "right-wing."

    A quick glance at the manifesto he wrote reveals he holds strong socialist views.

    It doesn't matter anyway. No one is publicly cheering for what he did.

    • “A quick glance at the manifesto he wrote reveals he holds strong socialist views.” I haven’t seen his manifesto, but I doubt you have, either. I understand he praised China, which isn’t exactly “socialist” any more and is probably a misdirection. Or else he just like authoritarian governments. Bottom line, the guy is a white nationalist; therefore, he is right wing. End of discussion.

  6. I’ve seen bits of his manifesto. He is a white nationalist. I wish I could quote exactly what he said about Trump. It ran along the lines of: Trump is a great symbol for white nationalism, but as a leader and his policies “god, no”.

    He was also strongly in favor of ecology and taking care of the planet. He may well favor socialist economic ideas, I didn’t read that far. As a 28 year old, taking care of the planet and socialist economic ideas are current for that generation, particularly for someone from Australia and who has traveled the world a bit.

    He just seems like an aggrieved young man, swimming in the ideas that are current with his generation as well as finding an out-group to blame for his problems. I’d argue that his politics are bit more complex than what we think of as “right wing”.

    • Nevertheless, he didn’t kill 49 people to further the cause of socialism.

      (Update) I’m reading here that he said one of the key events that radicalized him was the defeat of Marine Le Pen in the French election in 2017, which pretty much shoots down any claim he was an admirer of socialism. Of course, Le Pen’s opinions on many issues differ from those of the American Right, but that’s the difference between politics in Europe and the U.S. It may well be true that his stated opinions don’t neatly fall on the same left-right axis we’re used to in the U.S., but it’s also probably the case the guy is not terribly bright or well informed and has few strong convictions other than white nationalism. On that, he’s solid.

  7. I don't care about socialism.

    I don't care about capitalism.

    I care about solutions for people – all people. When that solution can be attained through the free market, great. When the free market has clearly failed on an issue important to peopele (health care, clean water, clean energy, fair wages) I'm fine with a government-sponsored solution. 

    Let's face the racist reality. Once upon a time, the Democratic Party was the face of racism. When Democrats embraced equality and rejected apartahid, the GOP won those people over and the GOP drove all moderation from the party. That's not a logical construct that says all Republicans are racists – they're not. But most racists (now) are Republicans. That's not too say all Democrats are nice people – some are pure a-holes and stupid to boot. But the Democratic Party isn't racist as a matter of policy, and the GOP is the haven of policies that rob minorities of voting rights and power.

  8. The one respect in which Muslim Jihaders are a greater threat is that they would drop a nuke or a radiological bomb on us if they could, and that has to be a concern.

    At a guess, the white nationalists would not want to do that to any "white man's country".

    Scary thought.

    When will these eurowhite Jihaders launch an attack on Muslims in some predominantly Muslim country?

    And who says no one among them would like to drop a nuke on Saudi Arabia or Iraq, or a radiological bomb?

    Does any of us want to wake up some morning to the news that some fan of Anders Brevik has destroyed the Blue Mosque with a bomb?

  9. Somewhere in all the crud in that manifesto he says people can call him a fascist because he really is a fascist.

    So, yeah, right wing.

  10. The shooter certainly is the sort of example of "good people on both sides" that deserves a deeper look at what "good" means to Donald Trump.  Right wing nut for sure.  I am grateful that New Zealand did not mince words and came right out and called him a terrorist rather than giving him the mental illness-get-out-of-terrorism-label free card. 

    Then that brave woman leader told Donald Trump that what she wants as help from America is support and love for all Muslim communities.   I'd venture to say, since America's press is not reporting this, that it means his jaw is still locked up from hearting that said to him!

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