After the horrendous terrorist attack by an Australian white ethno-nationalist ― a subscriber to the myth of “White Replacement” ― who murdered 50 Muslims in New Zealand mosques last month, how do we ensure such an attack does not occur in Australia?
Many ideas have been put forward, from proposals for more laws against hate speech to a greater crackdown on right-wing extremism. Many have put the blame for the massacre on the shoulders of politicians and/or the media. There has been much virtue signalling and much genuine discussion. Much talk has included conspiracy theories; and much talk has been constricted due to “political correctness.”
To solve a problem we must first be familiar with it. We must know its belief system and motivation and look at all contributing factors, without fear or favour. The only questions are: what is it and how do we deal with it?
The concept of “White Replacement” (sometimes called “White Genocide”) is the false belief that there is a global conspiracy, usually described as orchestrated by “the Jews,” to “import” non-Europeans ― especially Africans, Asians and Arabs ― into Europe, North America and Australasia for the express purpose of subjugating and decimating the European races and destroying Western civilisation. Those who subscribe to the “White Replacement” myth believe that through such mass immigration, people of ethnic European background will become a minority group, outnumbered and dominated ― that is, replaced ― in countries where once they were a majority of the population.
Many white ethno-nationalists view Muslims, though a religious and not a racial group, as the largest, most powerful, most militant and therefore most threatening, non-European group entering Christian European nations. Those who subscribe to the “White Replacement” myth often view both Jews and Muslims as the prime enemies ― Jews as the plotters and instigators, Muslims as the means. Or, as one white ethno-nationalist phrased it: Jews are “the disease,” Muslims are “the symptom.”
Those who subscribe to the “White Replacement” myth often see the solution in terms of what they term “White Revolution” and “Race War”. Through the strategy of “leaderless resistance” (code name for terrorism), as advocated by James Mason in his book Siege, they advocate violence, followed by more violence, with the aim of instigating a civil war between the majority ethnic Europeans and the various minorities of non-European ethnicity. Acts of terrorism and mass murder, such as occurred at the synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 and the mosques in Christchurch in 2019, aim at sparking this “Race War.”
How do we deal with this ideology and those who subscribe to it, especially its tenets of “Race War”? There are two choices: we can stomp on it or we can dissipate it. The answer lies in what will be the most effective method. There are two related but separate issues here: dealing with the ideology, and dealing with its adherents.
These are matters to be addressed by government, law enforcement, counter-terrorism experts, criminologists, psychologists and sociologists. Additionally, civil society and the minority communities affected need to have their input into dealing with this. Importantly, the media needs to take great care in how it portrays the issues, to act responsibly and not sensationally.
Dealing with the ideology requires discussing the issues and the beliefs of its adherents. Sweeping it under the carpet or shutting down debate ― for instance, by calling them racists, even if many of them are ― is counter-productive. Immigration, like all government policies, needs to be, and should be, openly but respectfully debated in the public arena. If a policy debate is forced underground because the loudest public voices, from whatever direction, deem it a shut-and-closed case and shout down dissident views, it can lead to frustration and desperation for those who are denied, or feel they are denied, a voice.
Views within the white ethno-nationalist grouping encompass a wide range from ordinary Australians, of various ethnic backgrounds, concerned about immigration and changing cultural and ethnic patterns, especially in our cities, through to hard-core racists. Responses need to be tailored to take this into account. For those who advocate violence and murder, the law is the method. For those not fully ensconced in the “White Replacement” myth, but who are concerned about the changing ethnic demographic of their country, then education and dialogue may be an effective method.
Since the Christchurch massacre, many white ethno-nationalists have been forced onto the defensive. Some have publicly distanced themselves from Brenton Tarrant, some have condemned his act in principle, while others have condemned it for damaging the white ethno-nationalist cause. In contrast, others are openly supportive of the massacre, some even to the extent of calling for more massacres. Others are in complete denial, caught up in a fantasy, accusing Tarrant (who demands all Jews be expelled from “white” countries) of being a Zionist stooge, a puppet of “the Jews,” who massacred innocents in order to discredit and destroy the white ethno-nationalist movement.
Some white ethno-nationalists are being pushed back into their corners. Many have been removed from Facebook and Twitter, thus limiting their ability to spread their hate. Several far right websites have been taken offline or been made inaccessible in Australasia. New Zealand has enacted a ban on certain types of firearms, and has also banned possession of Tarrant’s 74 page manifesto, on pain of up to ten years in prison.
In response to these reactions by governments and others, many of these white ethno-nationalists are adopting the maxim succinctly espoused by Neil Erikson, a convicted antisemite, on Gab (26 March 2019): “When you make peaceful revolution impossible you make violent revolution possible.”
The problem is: the more they are stomped on, the more militant they become. The more the public debate on immigration is squeezed towards only one view, the more desperate they feel. It may seem a good idea to stomp on them. But if they are feeling increasingly desperate and isolated, without any way out, it can lead to violence and the mindset espoused by Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh killer: “Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Given the potential for further violence, especially in the form of mass killing by white ethno-nationalists, or any extremist, as part of the instigation of a “Race War,” we need to ensure that the response by governments, law enforcement, media and others is appropriate and effective rather than mere feel-good measures or knee-jerk reactions that are often simplistic and counterproductive. Lives depend on getting this right.