In Australia, whence the [Christchurch massacre] suspect [Brenton Tarrant] hails, the rise in unabashed Islamophobia has buoyed far-right and ultra-nationalist movements in recent years. The country’s broad far-right category includes “several very different groups positioned on an ideological spectrum of extremism from conservative anti-immigration, anti-Islam groups to far-right neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, generally racist, white supremacy groups,” a group of Griffith University criminologists wrote in 2016.
Many of these groups nurture relationships with international counterparts, stretching from Greece’s Golden Dawn, a violent neo-Nazi outfit currently on trial for operating a criminal organization, to anti-Muslim hucksters in the United Kingdom and the U.S. In 2018, U.K. Islamophobe Tommy Robinson and former Proud Boys leader Gavin McInnes, known for urging his followers to attack anti-fascists in the streets, managed to sell tickets for up to around $750 a head for a planned five-event December speaking tour of Australia. (It was postponed when Robinson planned a conflicting Brexit protest.) “The Australian far right draws inspiration from overseas groups in the U.S. and U.K. trying to form local chapters,” sociologist Joshua Roose told Australian broadcaster SBS in November. “However, other groups formed organically in Australia. And they mostly formed in past three years.”
These international links were on full display in the violence in Christchurch. Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) president Richard Cohen observed as much in a statement Friday, warning that the manifesto “bears the unmistakable fingerprints of the so-called alt-right, both in tone and reference.” On Twitter, SPLC journalist Michael Edison Hayden pointed out that the same meme posted on the cover of the manifesto had been promoted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke last month.
The symbols and slogans emblazoned on the killer’s weapon also pointed to the global nature of neo-fascism and white nationalism. Written in white on the suspect’s guns were the Greek word for “Turk eater” and the number fourteen, an apparent reference to the “Fourteen Words,” a white nationalist mantra coined by David Lane.
President Trump condemned the Christchurch attacks, but his administration has spent the last three years emboldening white nationalists and neo-Nazis, cracking down on left-wing activists, and mainstreaming anti-immigration conspiracy theories tinged with anti-Semitic undertones not dissimilar to those promulgated by Tarrant. In October, the president addressed an audience of supporters at a campaign rally in Houston, Texas. He prompted “USA!” chants from the crowd when he declared himself a “nationalist” fighting against “power-hungry globalists.”
During the 2018 midterm elections, Trump maligned a U.S.-bound caravan of refugees and migrants as an “invasion,” a conspiracy theory repeated by white nationalist Robert Bowers when he gunned down worshippers at a Pittsburg synagogue last November. The Christchurch shooter used eerily similar language in a blog post on Thursday: “I will carry out an attack against the invaders,” he wrote, apparently referring to Muslim immigrants. [Continue reading…]