Okay, a disclaimer, I write this in part from anger as much as do with hope to provoke change. Yesterday my heart stopped as I read the news of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was still processing the tragic loss of 157 lives following the crashing of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 when this occurred. Another 49+ innocent people dead and 48 seriously injured — this time at the hands of a right-wing activist targetting worshippers at the Al Noor mosque and Linwood mosques.
Sadly I, like many of us have grown accustomed to learning about atrocities carried out in western nations in the name of toxic ideologies. This one attacking unarmed families during prayer was as sick as those targeting children at a music concert or pedestrians with vehicles, but it is a mistake to engage in a comparison of tragedies, each case is a unique portrait of the extremities of grotesque human behaviour.
Undoubtedly, many Brits will be waking this morning giving thanks and thinking, what happened over there couldn’t have happened to me over here. I’m not a Muslim and I’m not in New Zealand. Yet while this may be true for many who do not subscribe to the Islamic faith, this is patently untrue if you belong to a minority community.
You see if like me you are African, Asian or belong to any group with heritage outside Europe, even if British born, then you are likely to be caught in a triple bind, a potential quadruple bind if you add explicit discrimination because of gender or sexual orientation. What do I mean by this?
Well, so called jihadi extremists indiscriminately target us all on streets, planes, trains and shopping malls. European ethnocentrists focus their murderous crusades at places of worship like Mosques and Christian Churches, schools/summer camps and public rallies calling for peace. However, I would argue that the most pernicious group of all these terror groups are not those directly attacking us with guns and bombs, but the ethno-nationalists doing so indirectly while targeting us through what some academics refer to as institutions of cultural hegemony.
That is, the very people claiming that the threat we face comes from dangerous bogeymen with mental health issues while simultaneously normalising and financially rewarding so called ‘far-right’ politicians, academics and media pugilists that create the violent, radicalised racist other.
I would laugh at the irony if it wasn't so tragic that while we are being
trained to fear what lies beyond our borders, it is a significant proportion of those who are ‘elected’ to protect us alongside their unelectable sponsors that assault our liberty and very lives.
Off course it’s easier to target the trolls venting on social media trolls for the ills of society, but beyond causing offence, they invariably lack the power to sustain a political assault of any consequence despite audience size. That is unlike those responsible for the daily attacks we face via policies enacted by ‘legal’ white supremacists, sometimes in blackface serving in the UK government.
We know they have no issue exploiting Islamophobia for political gain, demonising, then revoking citizenship from ideologically groomed British nationals, persecuting and then deporting African 'Windrush' elders while seeking to strip them of their dignity, fuelling a knife epidemic amongst young people by forcing them to exist in a world with no hope of future prosperity, murdering families as they sleep in combustible monuments to profit – and they do this all while claiming to be servants of justice and loyal adherents to the ‘rule of law’.
Scratch just a little beneath the surface and their thinly veiled contempt for the rules they impose upon us with physical force and economic thuggery is revealed as we observe their aberrant behaviour when they don’t get their way – that is - embedding ‘white’ sovereignty, ‘white’ supremacy and uppity ‘black’ subjugation into every level of public policy and political life.
But I write this article not to shift blame for the atrocities carried out by terrorists like Brenton Tarrant who is wholly responsible for his own actions, but also to apportion appropriate blame for those who cultivate Islamophobia and 'white' supremacist values by influencing and empowering him and others like him - male and female, young and old, rich and poor.
To focus solely on the acts inflicted by evildoers driven by values that dehumanise ‘the other’ serves to absolve those in positions of influence and authority who are peddling myths of meritocracy while maintaining systems that enshrine their own privilege through discrimination and exploitation.
The media may pontificate about ‘far-right’ this and ‘alt-right’ that while listing other mass murderers as central figures in a global white supremacist movement, but most of these are merely the foot soldiers, we need to include the leaders in this discussion.
Consider the presence of the reality-show man-child currently ruling in the White House. His overt support for Islamophobia, misogyny, racism and white supremacy is well documented in the US. In the UK, ethnocentrism takes another form, one more discreet than the US as usual, but equally as pernicious in its populist, xenophobic, nationalist sneering. Terror, in this case, is inflicted upon all people who look, speak, worship, think, dress, sing or even eat differently from the quintessential image of a Britisher. Apart from when being exploited by abusive racists, human rights (and even workers’ rights) are demonised by conservative politicians and their supportive media allies as a threat to be relegated to the status of British rights. And as the ugly fracas that has emerged during the Brexit war has shown, their lies work.
Having lost their monopoly on traditional channels to distribute their ideology through printed media and network channels through digital technologies, they now exploit the freedom offered to many by the unregulated frontier of social media platforms like Facebook and private ones like WhatsApp. The labour extracted wonga and inherited capital they have stolen from the poor is used to poison the well of legitimate dissent. Instead of allowing the peoples rage to naturally point up towards themselves, they fund adverts and propaganda misdirecting it towards those below - those who are different.
Racist media publications attempt to scapegoat social media for terror attack
Anti-racism is not anti-white supremacy
If we truly want to see an end to this, then we must begin by recognising that Facebook is not to blame for the continued ascendacy of white supremacy and nor are the idiots on YouTube frothing at the mouth with swastikas stamped on their foreheads. The Afriphobia driving slavery and colonisation, the Islamophobia leading to unjust wars, the global sexism that continues to oppress the lives of women, the racism that excludes people without European heritage from becoming agents of permanent, meaningful change, all these ills existed long before access to Facebook and social media technology, and unless we do something about it, will continue long after.
It is the bullying, suited and booted oiks, who speak in a clear, dispassionate, rational tone masking their incoherent ideas and deeply emotional insecurities about inferiority. Tarrant’s name-checking of elected leaders like Trump and the inclusion of PMS* supremacist theories like the ‘the great replacement’ conspiracy in his so-called manifesto is revealing.
It shows how morally poisonous ideas have been able to flourish as a result of us living in a climate where the [any]-right in government has used its political and cultural power to portray state Afriphobia as irrelevant, Islamophobia as a conspiracy, asylum and economic migration as invading evils, poverty-inducing budgets as empowering austerity, radical socialism as somehow anti-Semitic while reflective, fact-based representative democracy is regarded a mission to subvert ‘the peoples’ will.
I use the term [any]-right because some commentators have attempted to assert that the term ‘alt-right’ is the correct moniker for followers of a pure conservativism that embraces extremist, racist values. This is untrue. Such terms are merely distancing tools, placeholders to say who to exclude from being recognised as legitimate manifestations of white supremacy. However, it is not, and has never been the case that it is solely racism that defines white supremacy, nor small ‘c’ - conservatism - but instead, [any]-right identity, be it, soft, hard, extreme and definitely centrist, with values that either explicitly or implicitly support European ethnocentrism.
The so-called 'far' right is not over there, its right here, right now hiding under the banner of [any]-right.
Over the next few days and weeks, we will hear much about diversity and tolerance. Politicians worldwide will engage in debates on 'white' extremism, freedom of speech, the ‘far-right’, anti-racism and perhaps where appropriate, gun laws.
Few will note that the faux-moral outrage many politicians and media pundits are expressing over sharing videos of this massacre is absent when it comes to the sharing of videos showing the deaths of African people at the hands of police officers or poverty-inducing policies affecting communities worldwide. Apparently, mass murder by government policy on a daily basis is not as distressing as that by individual extremists – unless the victims are ‘white’.
Oh and before anyone accuses me of being racist, of course, there are many Europeans residing in western nations that provide meaningful opposition to toxic ethnocentric policies and ideas, and I thank them, they are not the enemy. However I will not be silent about the many ‘established’ movements for anti-racism that love yelling ‘fascist’ at powerless yobs but fail to address the ethnocentrism hidden amongst their ranks and in the corridors of power - they do not help.
In truth, very little will change until we all recognise that radicalisation happens not only through sharing racist memes, comments and videos through social media channels like Reddit or Facebook but openly in Parliament. Not only on LBC but also the BBC, not just in tabloids like the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph and Daily Express but also within papers like the Observer. Not just on football terraces during racist chants but in university debates on eugenics at academic institutions like UCL.
Until these truths are challenged head-on, even those with good intentions will only be reacting against surface issues. But remember, freedom and justice mean nothing at all if it is not for all.
The solution therfore is not in the hands of a middle class, committed to gifting change that goes so far and no further, but instead, everyone prepared to decapitate the many-heads of the hydra at the top of the [any]-right movement and actively work to prevent the rise in Europeans at the bottom of the political chain, angry at not reaping the full benefits of ‘whiteness’ and now encouraged to believe the dangerous falsehood that - white supremacy is no longer enough.
My heart goes out to the victims, families and all those affected by this tragedy.
May the Ancestors continue to guide and protect us. Ase.
External LinksSeveral nationalities among Christchurch mosque victimsThousands of Britons using extreme far-right online forumsReddit bans notorious Watch People Die forumIslamophobia is not confined to online groups. It leaks across public lifeTerror like New Zealand attack must NEVER divide us, says SAJID JAVID
Many British tabloids push a racist - ’it woz u wots made me do it’ narrative
Ligali is not responsible for the content of third party sites
Is Trump right that migrants represent an invasion, white supremacy is not a growing threat and those involved with terrorism are a small group? Is Sajid Javid right to blame social media or does his actions as Home Secretary incite hatred?
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