Global White Supremacist Terrorism: No Denying It Any More

Image by Henrik Lehnerer — Shutterstock. Used by permission.

Are we finally beginning to acknowledge the threat and reach of global white supremacist terrorism?

It’s here. It’s real. It’s deadly. It’s global. It’s viral. And it’s growing.

March 15, 2019. The day when a 28-year old white supremacist terrorist shot and killed 50 people in two mosques in the beautiful city of Christchurch, New Zealand — a place that describes itself as ‘migrant friendly’, ‘attracting job seekers globally’ and ‘a great place to live, work and raise a family’.

The victims were from all over the world, including Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia. They were teachers, doctors, engineers, sportsmen, technologists, parents, children, old people. Many were refugees who thought they had found a safe place to be.

The Christchurch Killer: Profile of a White Power Terrorist

Brenton Tarrant was Australian by birth and citizenship, self-described as ‘an ordinary white man from a working class, low income family’ who had decided to ‘to take a stand to ensure a future for my people’.

For the past few years, he had lived in Dunedin, New Zealand, practicing how to shoot high-powered rifles at a gun club and planning his attack on the mosques.

According to the 74-page manifesto he released to time with his massacre at the mosques, he was an avowed white supremacist neo-Nazi (signing off the manifesto with ‘I will see you in Valhalla’) and deeply immersed in the global online world of white nationalist internet forums. At his arraignment in Christchurch District Court after the massacre, he flashed the White Power hand gesture as he smiled.

He apparently became radicalized in the course of a 2017 trip to Europe, in which he became enraged at what he perceived as the ‘milquetoast’ European, especially French, response to extremist Muslim terrorism and to the population changes brought about by immigration.

According to David Kirkpatrick, reviewing and quoting from the manifesto in The New York Times, Tarrant was interested in American politics above all, and his manifesto can be seen as directed to a U.S. white nationalist audience.

Tarrant wrote that he saw Donald Trump as ‘a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose’.

And that he chose to use firearms in his massacre ‘for the affect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the affect it could have on the politics of the United States and thereby the political situation of the world’.

His goal in the shooting, he said, was ‘to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide’, thus ‘ensuring the death of the melting-pot pipe dream’.

Lone Gunman Illusion vs. Reality of a Worldwide Movement

The world was shocked — once again.

We’ve seen this scenario before:

And once again, there was talk of whether the perpetrator had acted alone or as part of a wider organized plot involving other actors.

Like all these other horrific mass murders, the New Zealand mosque massacre was judged to be a ‘lone wolf’ attack by a disturbed and/or ideologically motivated individual, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group.

Technically, this is correct. Each of these mass shootings was indeed carried out by one person, working independently, not backed by associates involved logistically with the attacks.

But where the world has been turning a blind eye to reality is that the absence of a command structure doesn’t mean these crimes are somehow isolated.

Organizations at the forefront of fighting racial hatred and seeking justice have been warning us for years that this White Power movement is real, no longer fringe, growing rapidly, increasingly expressed through acts of terror, and needs to be taken with utmost seriousness — a threat to democratic society and cultural openness at least as great as that of any foreign interference in elections or armed invasion.

In the words of Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

In this context, it’s unconscionable that the President of the United States should have, once again, dismissed a white global white supremacist terrorist attack as nothing more than an the act of a lone disturbed individual.

It’s unconscionable that he should have, once again, refused to use the immense power of the U.S. presidential pulpit to categorically denounce this hate crime and all hate crimes.

And it’s unconscionable that he continues to deny the rise of global white supremacist nationalism, and the crucial role of his rhetoric and actions in encouraging it.

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Karine Schomer, PhD is a writer, speaker, scholar, and a political and social commentator. She writes on Medium at In her essays, she explores the worlds of society, politics, culture, history, language, world civilizations and life lessons. You can read her writer’s philosophy The Idea Factory. In her professional life, she earns her keep as a consultant at and

I explore the worlds of society, politics, culture, history, civilizations, language, life lessons— wherever curiosity takes me.

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