The only way to defeat the growing wave of white supremacism is to become allies of one another.
Following the recent terror attack against Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, the momentum of the white supremacist movements have been brought back into the forefront of how we view extremism and what can be done to combat it. While certain media outlets have strived to portray this Islamophobic or anti-Muslim, attack as an isolated incident, the reality is, it is the result of a much larger movement.
In a 74-page manifesto that the shooter published online, he cited other white supremacists and mass murderers as inspiration for his acts, and described himself as a “racist” and “ethno-nationalist eco-fascist”.
While he stated that he had no issue with Muslims in their “homelands”, his issue is with them being “invaders” in the West, but even more so expressed hatred for white Muslim converts, who he felt were “traitors” to their kind. When posing questions to himself within his manifesto, he asked “Do you feel any remorse for the attack?” to which he replied, “No, I only wish I could have killed more invaders, and more traitors as well.”
This notion of “invaders” held by the shooter is quite ironic, considering he was born and raised on colonised land that was initially inhabited by Aboriginals, who are to this day fighting for the rights of their land and territory. Similarly to America and South Africa, it is the white settlers who are historically the “invaders” of these lands, that have now only grown more diverse with globalisation and mass migration.
As for Brenton Tarrant's mention of so-called “traitors”, a white Muslim convert myself, I know the feeling of being titled a “traitor” all too well.
I have been labelled as one countless times online, as well as felt the judgements from within my own family. While half of my family is rather accepting and acclimated to the change, the other side could only be described as “soft-racists” or “white supremacist sympathisers”, at the least, and avid Trump supporters.
So it is admittedly strange seeing anti-Muslim propaganda from my friends and family on social media while being a follower of the Islamic faith myself. However, I do have the added advantage of viewing ‘both sides’, and while I may not be able to bring myself to empathise with racism or white supremacy - I can understand those who live in apathy.
With so much going on in the world - it can be difficult to give our already limited attention to things that seemingly don’t ‘affect’ us. However, we run the risk of isolating ourselves of support from other communities when we experience traumatic events if we don’t ally ourselves with others causes and strife.
When the attack in New Zealand occurred this past week, I was astonished at the number of non-Muslim friends, family and colleagues of mine that did not seem even to be aware that it took place. People who were previously very vocal regarding terror attacks committed by “Muslims”, suddenly did not have anything to say.
While it is easier for us to disconnect from events that happen to those we identify as ‘others’, I expected that the fact that it happened in a Western country would have drawn more attention and acknowledgement from fellow communities.
The most notable support, however, was on the ground in New Zealand, particularly that of the Indigenous Maori people. Multiple groups of individuals performed ceremonial haka in honour of the victims, and members of the community visited their local mosques to ‘guard’ the worshippers while they prayed. Two seemingly different cultures brought together by a mutual understanding of how it feels to face oppression and injustice at the hands of white supremacist collectives.
When commenting on the support offered to Muslims by the Maori community, Nga Mokopuna Teacher Karina Ngaropo, Kaiako stated, “[the Muslim community] are the same as Maori. Some of their protocols and practices are very similar to ours and knowing that love is what matters most.”
International Muslim Association NZ President Tahir Nawaz also stated that they would seek further ways to incorporate Maori culture within the mosque structure, to further involve their community and return the hospitality offered to them in such a difficult time.
While this particular tragedy may not have directly impacted individuals who aren’t Muslim, the rise of white supremacist ideology does and will have drastic implications for anyone that isn’t white and for the most part, who isn’t male.
Therefore; it is all of our responsibilities to support our diverse communities of ethnicity and religion, to combat this very dangerous mentality. When speaking of the attack in New Zealand, mayor of South Bend in Indiana Pete Buttigieg, stated that the attack was “an attack on us all” and tweeted “And yet again, the obvious bears repeating: white nationalism kills.”
While white nationalist mentality has existed for a long time, the issue at hand is that our current political climate is one that does not discourage this ideology, and only fuels and empowers those who ascribe to it.
President Donald Trump speaking of the attack made no mention of Muslims, terrorism, hate or white supremacy, rather he tweeted his “warmest sympathy and best wishes” to those affected. Shortly after the attack during an interview in the oval office, Trump stated that he did not feel the growing danger of white supremacy was a problem, asserting that it’s only a “small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It’s certainly a terrible thing.”
The fact of the matter is, we are a diverse world full of varied cultures and religions, and to combat this growing notion of it being an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ dynamic, we all need to be allies of one another.
The stronger we band together as smaller communities forming one large community, the weaker the white supremacist movement becomes. That means learning about and understanding one another and coming together to support communities in need, or those affected by terrorism, racism, and brutality.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.
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