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Friday, March 15, 2019

White Nationalism is the greatest threat to democracy

Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff

Pic of the MomentThose working their way through the fetid “manifesto” of the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter have been quick to paint it as “lunatic rambling.” 

Others have pointed out that many of the statements included in the 74-page missive are based not on statements directly from Donald Trump, but on racist, white supremacist rhetoric that has been circulating for decades. 

But both analyses are way off base.

The document doesn’t, sadly enough, show the shooter as someone genuinely delusional or afflicted with mental illness. 

It shows him as the sort of garden-variety white, male, racist troll all too common on social media sites across the internet. 

His asides, nasty remarks, and claims to be everything from a “white Nelson Mandela” to a “Navy Seal” don’t come because he’s crazy. They come because he thinks they’re funny. He thinks spewing hatred and advocating genocide is just absolutely hilarious.

It’s also a mistake to dismiss a link between his racist statements and those made by Trump, just because the shooter seems to be citing older sources. That’s true enough. 

But Trump and the shooter are both working from the same sources, and both coming up with the same answers. 

Here’s what Donald Trump has saidas compiled by NYU journalism professor Mohamad Bazzi:

“I think Islam hates us.” — CNN, Mar 2016

“If you have people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes and on their minds, we’re going to have to do something.” — CBS, Dec. 2015

“You have to deal with the mosques, whether we like it or not, I mean, you know, these attacks aren't coming out of — they're not done by Swedish people” — Fox, Mar 2016

And that’s just on the subject of mosques. It doesn’t touch on the hundreds of times that Trump has railed against immigration, or called non-whites entering the country “an invasion.” 

In fact, that’s exactly how Trump began his campaign, by painting immigrants as “rapists” and criminals. And, of course, it’s the theme behind his attempted multi-billion dollar theft to build his wall.

Trump may not have written the white supremacist hymnal, but he sings from it loudly, clearly, and often. From Europe, across America, and in New Zealand racists hear Trump’s words and find not just comfort in his reflection of their own bigoted opinions, but encouragement to act. Because every day, in every way, Trump is encouraging violence.

Over and over again, the shooter’s manifesto talks about “invaders” and “invasion.” As the shooter puts it, the real blame for the shootings is an immigration policy that fails to protect "the historic European-Christian composition of society and embrace our language, culture and values as a people." Wait, that’s not the shooter, that’s a racist Australian senator. “We are talking about an invasion of our country.” Hang on, that’s Trump.  

“We are experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history.” There. That one is the shooter. And none of the three appear to get the irony of decrying “invasion” in support of a white European “culture” that moved in in the last few hundreds years to displace natives who had lived there for thousands. 

It doesn’t matter what Sarah Sanders says. “Invasion” is the language of violence. It’s a term that so heightens the threat that it licenses “good patriots” to do anything in response. 

“Enemies of the people” is the language of violence. 

And certainly warning people that he has tough guys ready to do bad things to his opponents is the language of violence. Donald Trump has advocated for beating up protesters, for greatly expanding the death penalty, and for taking away children as a means of controlling their parents.

These are dehumanizing statements that generate inhuman responses.

Right-wing media, when not completely ignoring the events in New Zealand, will try to make much of the fact that the shooter indicated that he was not in favor of many Trump policies, and that he had “socialist leanings” in wanting higher wages and less power given to corporations. 

But the shooter did not enter a house of worship and shoot people who were bowing in prayer in their backs because he was upset over New Zealand’ minimum wage law. He did it because they were Muslims.

And of course Trump isn’t his only source. But Trump is a source—and an important one in advancing both the interest and the anger of militant white radicals.

As New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali writes, “We are dealing with angry, disaffected men, mostly white, who find purpose and community with these extremist groups who give them a hero's narrative through violent ideology of white supremacy. They are saving civilization by getting rid of the rest of us. It's like White ISIS.”

What White ISIS wants is clear enough: a white state. Not only does the New Zealand shooter make clear that a big part of his purpose is not to generate cross-racial hatred in America: His real hope is that it will be a step on “making whites wake up.” Because, as he says again and again, “democracy isn’t the answer.”

Anyone complaining about the “threat of demographics,” whether that’s the shooter or Texas Republicans, is fundamentally engaged in an argument that all votes, and all people, are not equal. 

That there is value to be had in protecting some idealized white culture. That, as the shooter puts it clearly, “diversity is weakness.” 

White nationalism might be at its most extreme when it picks up a gun, or a bomb. 

But it comes in many shades—all of them white, of course. 

Those shades include gerrymandering districts to minimize the impact of non-white votes. They include passing laws that make it more difficult for non-white voters to be counted at the polls. 

All of them, from gun to ballot box, are ways of promoting inequality and fundamentally eliminating democracy to make sure that particular racial group maintains control.

What makes Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” for the shooter is the same thing that speaks to these Arizona voters featured in a National Review article.

“When I listen to Donald Trump, I hear the America I grew up in. He wants to make things like they used to be,” McKinney, a retired court clerk, says afterward. 

“Where I grew up, in the San Joaquin Valley, it was a good, solid community, but it fell apart when the government started pandering to all of these immigrants who don’t understand our culture and don’t want to assimilate.” 

A “good, solid community” being one without immigrants. That’s what many voters hear when they listen to Donald Trump. It’s what racists hear around the world.