It is now perfectly plain that Anders Breivik, the murderous white-supremacist who killed 72 people in Norway in 2011, has become one of the most significant figures in international terrorism since the demise of Osama bin Laden. It is not merely the magnitude of Breivik’s own violence, although that remains stunning in itself. Breivik formed the template for the modern white-supremacist mass murder.
From Ted Kaczynski, he borrowed the idea of publishing a manifesto. From the Columbine killers, he borrowed the idea of using both bombs and guns. And from the international white-supremacist networks, he borrowed the murderous rage and bloodthirsty rhetoric necessary to carry out acts of mass murder, and to justify his crimes through an elaborate bullshit ideological exoskeleton that he wore like body armor. He put all of this together and created the modern mode of mass political murder, one that was carried out again Thursday in Christchurch, New Zealand.
That killer even was gentleman enough to credit Breivik as an inspiration, along with another terrorist who targeted one of the same mosques two years ago. From The Guardian:
The man says he is called Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old born in Australia. The 74-page document, called The Great Replacement, consists of a rant about white genocide and lists various aims, including the creation of “an atmosphere of fear” against Muslims. The document, which suggests an obsession with violent uprisings against Islam, claims the suspect had “brief contact” with the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik and that Breivik gave his “blessing” to the attack. Police have not confirmed that Tarrant is one of the men in custody over the shooting. They say one man has been charged.
Caution is needed in reading this latest manifesto. A lot of it reads like a vicious form of grandiose trolling. But there seems to be little doubt that the crimes themselves speak loudly of the basic truth that this was a right-wing act of war against a target population. And, because of that, we should take the following passage very seriously. The alleged shooter called the President* of the United States “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” This doesn’t sound like a good re-election bumper sticker but, at this point, who in the hell knows?
There is now little doubt that white supremacy is an international terrorist threat stretching from Christchurch to Pittsburgh and extending out in every direction. It runs on a parallel track with the rise of a xenophobic rightwing nationalist politics that is conspicuously successful in a number of putatively democratic nations. Liberal democracy is under attack and, like any revolution, this one has both a respectable political front and a violent auxiliary that operates on its own imperatives. That one of those auxiliaries cites both a Norwegian mass murderer and the President* of the United States as inspiration for killing 49 people is not only evidence of the width of the threat, but also the depth of its commitment to the cause. This is the everyday al Qaeda of the angry white soul, and it’s growing.
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