The Massacre in New Zealand, White Nationalism, and The Christian Response

The Massacre in New Zealand, White Nationalism, and The Christian Response March 15, 2019

Canterbury Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand / WikimediaCommons

I woke up this morning and saw, to my dismay, the horrible mass killing of Muslims in New Zealand. Over forty Muslims were shot and killed at two different mosques. This was an orchestrated terrorist attack.   One of the gunmen involved, a young man from Australia, posted a manifesto explaining that the attack was racially motivated: he was a white supremacist who saw foreigners as a deadly threat to be destroyed.

We have a major problem, not only in the United States, but in the world at large. Racist, white supremacist ideologies are spreading across the world.  Those who accept such an ideology are not interested in ideological debates but a race war. They are violent. They are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.  This ideology is often spread by, and tied to, the alt-right, because the alt-right with its nationalism reinforces white supremacy and its ideologies.

In the United States and around the world, we continue to see manifestations of this dangerous ideology before us:

  1. A Coast Guard Lieutenant, Christopher P. Hasson, one of many examples of white supremacists in the military, was arrested before he could execute plans of mass killing using deadly biological weapons on the American food supply.
  2. Jeanine Pirro attacked Ilhan Omar for her hajib, continuing the recent trend in America by many in the right to promote anti-Islamic rhetoric for Fox News viewers.
  3. In the United Kingdom, authorities are having to deal with constant racist attacks against Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
  4. Anti-Semitism is causing great trouble for the Labor Party in the U.K.
  5. Anti-Semitism and racism is on the rise in France.
  6. In Poland, a newspaper ran a front page article on how to find “a Jew.”
  7. In Belgium, anti-Jewish caricatures find themselves employed in public displays, such as in a carnival float.
  8. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s poster were defaced with a Swastika and an anti-Jewish death wish.

Hate groups are on the rise in the United States.  This should not be surprising. President Trump’s support for them at Charlottesville has emboldened them. They have been mainstreamed, and not just in the United States. Political commentators give subtle clues, dog whistles, showing their support for dangerous racist ideologies. Raymond Arroyo, from EWTN, suggested those who were upset at and critical of John Wayne’s racism were the equivalent of ISIS and attacking America, demonstrating the connection many in the right make between America and whiteness.

Donald Trump’s promotion of a wall between Mexico and the United States comes, in part, as a response to, and continued promotion of these hateful ideologies. He knows his base. By pushing for the wall, which most Americans do not want to be built, he knows he continues to get the support of his militant base. It is with this base, encouraged to think of outsiders with hate and disgust, Trump finds his greatest support and so it is to them he addresses his policies and rhetoric; indeed, it is his support from this base which made him think he could threaten Congress if they passed a resolution denying his emergency order at the border for the sake of building a wall. The military, police, and “bikers” were specifically mentioned by Trump as those who would act contrary to the rule of law if Trump did not get his way in support of his nationalistic ideology. What ties them together is the rise of a militant white supremacy gaining power in and through them, a white supremacy which has no qualms enforcing Trump’s nationalism contrary to the common good. White supremacy is bloodthirsty and will kill when it feels its power and authority is threatened.  There can be no codling of white supremacists: to do so is to allow the demonic spirit of racism to fester and grow in strength: it must be rejected, and treated as the evil it is.

The Compendium of Social Doctrine speaks prophetically when it says:

The centrality of the human person and the natural inclination of persons and peoples to establish relationships among themselves are the fundamental elements for building a true international community, the ordering of which must aim at guaranteeing the effective universal common good. Despite the widespread aspiration to build an authentic international community, the unity of the human family is not yet becoming a reality. This is due to obstacles originating in materialistic and nationalistic ideologies that contradict the values of the person integrally considered in all his various dimensions, material and spiritual, individual and community. In particular, any theory or form whatsoever of racism and racial discrimination is morally unacceptable.[1]

Humanity needs to see itself as one large, extended family. Nationalistic ideologies, especially those founded upon racist notions, destroy the common bond of humanity, and in doing so, ends up justifying hate and destruction against the other by turning them into something sub-human so that the other can be eradicated. Nationalism and racism are antithetical to the dignity of life, to the dignity of the human person, and those who promote and engage such ideologies do so with a hate for humanity and the common good. No one can be said to be pro-life if what they offer is hate. They can only be false prophets, mimicking the good so as to distract from the evil which they want to implement upon the world.

There can be no hatred for Jews or Muslims, for the foreigner or the poor within the Christian heart: to do so is to go against the central teaching of the Christian faith, the teaching of love.  Even those who hold ideologies which we must oppose, indeed, with ideologies which we must resist with the very fabric of our beings, are still humans who are to be loved, for Christ himself we are to love our enemies. But he also said we are to do good for those who would persecute us; that good includes seeking justice, making those who have done evil restore the good which they have destroyed. It is not established by pandering to them. But we must be wise. Love covers a multitude of sins: sometimes through healing, sometimes through correction, but always with a rejection of the sin itself.

Today, I awoke to see another example of the growing racist terrorism rising around the world. From the United States to Poland to New Zealand and beyond, white supremacists feel emboldened. The alt-right and the money behind the alt-right has reopened the wound of racism, allowing it to become infected, threatening the body of humanity as a result. It is unacceptable. We must put a stop to it. We must denounce it and close off the wound before the infection spreads across the whole body of humanity, destroying it with its demonic cancer.


[1]The Compendium of Social Doctrine. Vatican Translation. ¶433.


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