Manifestos of hate: What white terrorists have in common
Writing for The Guardian on August 6, Moustafa Bayoumi stated the obvious. “If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim,” Bayoumi wrote, US President Donald Trump “would be lobbing accusations such as ‘Islam hates us’ in the direction of Muslims and not lecturing the public about video games.”
Bayoumi was referring to the double standards that — in the West — tend to define official discourse and media coverage regarding violence. When the alleged perpetrators are Muslim, the case becomes a matter of national security and is categorically referred to as an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a white male, however, it is a whole different story.
On Aug. 3, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius carried out a mass shooting in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 innocent people.
The Justice Department is “seriously considering” bringing federal hate crime charges against the killer, CNN reported. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that “mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” in another attempt at whitewashing violent crimes by white individuals.
The “mental illness” explanation, in particular, has long served as a convenient rationale for similar violence.
For example, when 28-year-old Ilan Long opened fire on college students in Thousand Oaks, California in November 2018, killing 12 people, Trump offered the following appraisal of the perpetrator: “He was a very, very mentally ill person. He’s a very sick — well, it’s a mental health problem. He is a very sick puppy. He was a very, very sick guy.”
The mental illness argument recurs frequently. Last March, when Brenton Tarrant opened fire on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people, Trump stated: “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
Compare this to the US president’s response to the killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, California, which was blamed on two Muslims. Trump immediately assigned the word “terrorism” to the violent act, while calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
But we already know “what is going on.” The truth goes beyond the typical Western double standards. Crusius, Tarrant and other white terrorists are connected through a deep bond that goes beyond the realms of mental illness into something truly sinister.
They are all part of a larger phenomenon — an amalgamation of various ultra-nationalist governments, political movements and other groups around the world, all united by their hate for immigrants, refugees and Muslims.
Crusius and Tarrant were not “lone wolf” terrorists, as some want us to believe. Even though they are solely responsible for the mass murder of innocent people, they are also members of a large, ideological, militant network that is dedicated to spreading hate and racism, one which sees immigrants — and especially Muslims — as “invaders.”
In his “manifesto,” a 74-page document that he posted online shortly before he carried out his heinous act, Tarrant references the far-right, racist ideologues who inspired him, along with fellow “ethno-soldiers” — like-minded murderers who committed equally horrific acts against civilians.
It was no accident that Tarrant named his document the “Great Replacement,” as it was based on a similarly named conspiracy theory made popular by Renaud Camus, a vociferous supporter of Israel.
Camus is an infamous French writer whose “Le Grand Remplacement” envisaged a global conflict that sees Muslims as the new enemy.
“The Great Replacement,” and other literature widely popular with the far-right, presents an ideological foundation for the — until recently — disorganized and disconnected efforts of various ultra-nationalist movements around the world, all united in their desire to address the “Muslim invasion.”
No form of violence targeting innocent people should be justified or tolerated, regardless of the skin color, religion or identity of the perpetrators.
The common thread between violent white males who commit mass killings is obvious: A deep indoctrination of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and hate for Muslims. Like Tarrant, Crusius also wrote his own manifesto, one that is, according to CNN, “filled with white-nationalist and racist hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics, blaming immigrants and first-generation Americans for taking away jobs and the blending of cultures in the US.”
Moreover, both seemed to subscribe to the same intellectual discourse, as they had posted links to a 16,000-word document on Twitter and 8chan that was “filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments.”
“The writer of the document linked to the El Paso suspect expressed support for the shootings (at) two mosques in Christchurch,” CNN also reported.
Promoters of the “Great Replacement” theory argue that followers of Islam are “ethnically replacing” other cultures and must be stopped, by violent means if necessary. Unsurprisingly, they see Israel as a model country that is succeeding in fighting against the “Muslim menace.”
What now makes violent white supremacists even more dangerous is the fact that they have friends in high places. Trump’s refusal to seriously address the issue of white nationalist militancy is no accident. And the American president is not alone. The rising star of Italian politics, Matteo Salvini, for example, has a great deal of sympathy for such movements. Following the Christchurch massacre, the Italian defense minister refused to condemn white extremists. Instead, he said: “The only extremism which should be carefully addressed is the Islamic one.”
The list of far-right ideologues and their benefactors is long and constantly expanding. But their hate-filled speech and disturbing “theories,” along with their fascination with Israeli violence and racism, would have been assigned to the dustbin of history if it were not for the high-profile violence that is now associated with this movement.
Our understanding of white nationalist violence should move beyond the double-standard argument into a more thorough analysis of the ideological links that tie these individuals and groups together. Ultimately, no form of violence targeting innocent people should be justified or tolerated, regardless of the skin color, religion or identity of the perpetrators.
- Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His most recent book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net. Twitter: @RamzyBaroud