I have always been an activist; there is something in my blood that has made me hyper-aware of the world around us. Since I can remember I have always tried to point out the flaws in humanity and the system we have designed around us. I have lost friends sharing certain opinions, because people would rather live in blissful ignorance than actually do something to enact real change. We live in a world infected with apathy, greed and individualism.
Now I am guilty too, for shutting my mouth to avoid making people uncomfortable. The Christchurch shooting was the final straw for me, I am tired of watching the world burn in silence. I don't think me speaking up is going to change much, but if I can change one persons mind, if I can get one person to see things from a different perspective than I have done my job.
So lets start by defining a couple of terms:
White supremacy is the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races and therefore should be dominant over them. White supremacy has roots in scientific racism, and it often relies on pseudo-scientific arguments. The term is also typically used to describe a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical, or institutional domination by white people (as evidenced by historical and contemporary sociopolitical structures such as the Atlantic Slave Trade, Jim Crow laws in the United States, and Apartheid in South Africa)
Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultra-nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Opposed to Liberalism, Marxism, and Anarchism; Fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum. Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.
We are starting to see a rise of this kind of behavior on a global scale. Poland, India, Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary and even the USA have started to adopt very specific tactics used in fascist politics. First let me say that there is a difference between fascist politics, and a fascist state. Fascist politics are the tactics used as a mechanism to achieve more power.
I learned in "How Fascism Works" by Jason Stanley that some of these strategies include "the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victim-hood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and dismantling of public welfare and unity." All of these tactics should seem uncomfortably familiar with you. When politics dehumanize and exclude specific groups, it limits our capacity for empathy. That is a slippery slope that can and has led to inhumane treatment, repression of freedom, and even mass extermination.
Division is dangerous. When a countries population is separated into an "us vs them" mentality, its a lot easier to convince the masses to support their vision. They re-write a history we already know, and promote anti-intellectualism by attacking and devaluing educational systems and anyone who might challenge their view. It's actually quite easy to create this unreality, a new world where fake news and wild conspiracies replace reasoned debate.
Please read "How Fascism Works" - Jason does an amazing job breaking down the 10 main tactics we have seen used by authoritarian regimes in the past. I want to move on to the core of this article, White Supremacy. Something that is ingrained in our history, and wont seem to leave. Something I think is becoming mainstream again because of the use of Fascist discourse, in both politics and online.
Everyone knows we have an extremely racist past that you can at least trace back to the 16th century. It wasn't until the beginning of the 19th century that various governments acted to ban the Atlantic Slave Trade, although illegal smuggling still occurred. What followed that wasn't unity, but world wars, the holocaust, Jim Crow laws and segregation. Positive change didn't start to happen until the mid to late 60's, and the only reason any change happened at all was because of activism, protests and people willing to die for their cause.
That was only 50 years ago. Yet here we are acting like racism has been magically irradiated, or only exists on the fringe of our world. That hate was erased from peoples hearts just because a fluke of circumstances allowed some positive legislation to be put in place. If you think there is no possible way for history to repeat itself, or rather for us to evolve into something even worse as a society; well I have a bridge to sell you...
The Christchurch shooting is the perfect example to draw from. In a country that is globally known to be peaceful, a Mosque was shot up by a mad man from Australia who killed 50 innocents, and injured 50 more. If that wasn't fucked up enough, he also livestreamed the entire thing from a GoPro where people online literally cheered him on. He, like a disturbingly large amount of people, think that they are being affected by something called "white genocide" or "The Great Replacement" - which is a right-wing conspiracy theory that mass immigration, racial integration, miscegenation, abortion, and organised violence is being promoted to deliberately replace/remove white populations, dismantle white collective power, turn the countries minority-white, and hence cause white people to become extinct through forced assimilation. This of course is blamed on "the global and liberal elite."
It would still be terrifying if it was only a small minority that believed this, but sadly that isn't the case. When a senator from Australia released a letter claiming that "even though the Muslims in the shooting were innocent today, the reason they were killed was because they had the audacity to immigrate to our countries" I became painfully aware at how deep this issue runs. Check out the full letter here.
Here are 3 comments just to give you an example about the discourse I've seen online:
"7+ million islamists in the USA. They like to have lots of babies, it's one of their methods of conquering. Once they get their numbers high enough, they will kill more often, much as they are in places across Europe… It's an assault on all white nations on Earth, white genocide“
"It’s time to put the fear of God into these third-world scum. Europe can no longer be a classless whore who spreads her legs for these brutish savages. Muslims and Africans alike need to fear Europe and speak of Europeans like one might speak of a bogeyman who disappears people in the night. DEUS VULT”
"How about this experiment?...Put some oxytocin in Chicago's grape soda supply, and see if they stop shooting each other as much."
What happened in Christchurch should only be bringing people together, but instead it has further divided us. We have politicians in the USA claiming that the shooter was actually left leaning, an eco-fascist, because one of the lines in his rambling manifesto makes that claim. This tragedy should not have turned into this type of debate, pointing fingers to our opposing political parties instead of distancing ourselves from this insane behavior like any normal person would do. This is how easy it is to create the "us vs them" mentality we talked about earlier. The shooter was a white supremacist, that is a far right ideology, but that doesn't mean he was a Republican.
If we continue to use these types of events to point fingers and shift the blame instead of coming together to fight this it will keep happening, and more frequently. All we are doing is giving horrible people momentum and permission to keep doing horrible things. The game has changed now that we have social media, and it allows people on the fringe to recruit a lot easier. If we keep insulting each other instead of using our gift of empathy to try and understand each other - it's a lot easier for horrible people/groups to appeal to the people out there who feel alone or isolated. To make them feel like they have a place or are apart of something bigger. Just look at the Flat Earth movement. A lot of them are smart people that felt alienated in our world and found a space where people didn't judge them. They are misguided and wrong but it's easy to empathize and understand how they ended up on that path in life, especially with anti-intellectualism on the rise.
This topic is far from black and white, it deserves insane amounts of nuance and I wonder if people are even capable of seeing life that way anymore? Climate change is going to drastically change our ecosystem, certain parts of the world will no longer be habitable and with that comes more immigration. These are conversations that need to be had right now, and they need to be had with an open mind. We can't keep brushing this type of behavior under the rug and pretending it is just going to go away. History shows us that it can and will repeat itself.