As we move past the initial shock and horror of the terror attack on the two mosques in Christchurch, it’s exposing what was already known to many of us- the rising threat of the white supremacist extreme right wing. It also appears that these extremists are gaining the inspiration from none other but our president Trump.
When asked at the White House yesterday whether white nationalists were a growing threat around the world, Donald Trump replied: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It’s certainly a terrible thing.”
The facts paint a different picture. Many laws enforcing agencies also disagree with the president’s view.
They point to the growing threat of terrorism by white supremacist/nationalists but our President once again failed to acknowledge it and in fact minimized it even when asked the question directly. The press has reported the threat for many years, well before the recent rise in the terror attacks or plots carried out by the white supremacists. Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer had reported this back in 2015 in a NY Times Op Ed.
In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction… An officer from a large metropolitan area said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism. One officer explained that he ranked the right-wing threat higher because “it is an emerging threat that we don’t have as good of a grip on,
Unfortunately what David and Charles reported 4 years ago is coming true and the recent reports supplement that assessment.
He may deny the threat, but the fact is that Donald Trump is actually a source of inspiration for the extreme right wing. The anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and hate-filled manifesto by the white supremacist terrorist in New Zealand, who killed 49 worshippers at two mosques, names Trump as an inspiration for his actions and views. He used some of the same words that Donald Trump uses for immigrants, such as “invaders”. The manifesto hailed Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” The manifesto also praised Anders Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011.
During the Neo-Nazi group’s march in Charlottesville, rather than condemning the white supremacist group who were chanting anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant slogans such as “Jews will not replace us”, he quipped
““You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Donald Trump did not use the word “terrorism” let alone “white supremacist terrorism” when addressing the Christchurch tragedy. He did label it as “terrible thing”. Well it is much more than “terrible thing”. As usual, he wanted to get more information before commenting further. This is the same president who didn’t waste any time in calling the San Bernardino, CA shooting as an act of radical Islamic terrorism, or the terror attacks in London or Paris- well before any of the ‘facts’ were known except for the Muslim identity of the terrorists. The Washington Post had an interesting review of how quickly Trump tweets or issues a statement when the culprits are Muslims.
My heart goes out to the victims of the victims of this tragedy in Christchurch. It is the worst attack in the history of New Zealand. Zahra Biloo, the executive director of CAIR- Bay Area San Francisco quoted this beautiful set of verses.
“And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not. And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” The Qur’an 2:154-157
We need clear-headed leadership in this country and around the globe, if we are serious about preventing further hate-filled violence. Just like the holocaust, the violence starts with hate speeches and hateful rhetoric, which we see aplenty from the White House. As the world leader, the White House needs to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Donald Trump may not be responsible for the terror attacks in Christchurch, or the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg but he is clearly providing a lot of inspiration and ammo for the extreme right wing white supremacists. I am not making it up- it is what they claim. If Donald Trump indeed feels he does not mean it, he must clearly denounce white supremacists and white nationalism and the growing threat of terrorism they pose.
The problem is you cannot denounce what you do not believe in.
- Islamophobia is more than expression of hate. Islamophobia kills.
- Whether it is Christchurch in New Zealand, Quebec City, Canada, Oslo Norway, or the daily “beef lynching” in India, hate against Muslims is directly responsible for these murders.
- Both the 74-page manifesto of the Christchurch terrorist and the 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Breivik, the Norway killer who murdered over 70 young people are inspired by and quote Islamophobes in the USA.
The struggle is not between Whites and Non-Whites, Muslims and non Muslims, immigrants and natives, Jews and non Jews but between extremists on all sides and the moderates on all sides.
Donald Trump needs to distance himself from the white supremacist extremists. But then again, he has his eyes on the elections in less than two years. Can he afford to upset this segment of his base? He ran the last election on inciting hate and fear- against Muslims and immigrants, calling Mexicans murderers, rapists , invaders and criminals. “Islam hates us” and “lets ban Muslims until the leaders of this country figure out what the hell is going on” are not only not helpful in diffusing hatred, they actually put flames to the fire and inspire the extremists.
I fear that with the coming elections, we will see more of the same hateful rhetoric. If it worked the last time around, why would he change course?