In the wake of last week’s shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, President Trump failed to acknowledge the sources and ideology behind the senseless tragedy. Much like many Sunni Arab countries in the 2000s, the President has not recognized the effects of American far-right extremism on global terrorism.
In the US, the FBI has already conceded that last year, for the first time, they were investigating just as many domestic far-right extremists as Islamist terrorists.
Just as the West has often criticized of Islamic nations where terrorism breeds, Simon Clark from the Center for American Progress believes it is now time for the US to follow its own advice with regards to white nationalism. White nationalism is an extremist belief that holds that the “white race” is currently in peril because of the advancement and coexistence of “others” – usually those of darker skin color and other faith. Furthermore, this dogma maintains that violent measures should be taken to ensure the security of their own race.
The danger and spread of these ideologies is nothing new, with domestic terrorists such as Dylann Roof admitting to being influenced by white activists such as Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.
Other alt right terrorists have similarly acknowledged inspiration from various white power groups, such as Christian Identity and Generation Identity in Europe. However, most alt right groups do not outwardly encourage violence, instead they disguise their messages with racist and Islamophobic hate in order to propagate these beliefs.
In order to combat these beliefs and halt the growth of right wing extremist violence, Clark believes the US should endeavor to do three things:
“First, our governments and our leaders must explicitly acknowledge the abhorrent ideologies driving the attacks, as well as the pertinent racial and/or religious identity of the victims… Second, our governments need to explain to citizens how dehumanizing political rhetoric isn't just a rejection of so-called "political correctness" but can lead to violence, and consistently, openly reject the propagandists and politicians who traffic in this language for political gain... Third, the funding sources for white nationalist propaganda must be investigated, exposed and, where linked to criminal activity, prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Though seemingly straightforward, given the current political climate, it may be difficult to attain all these achievements. Moreover, society has certain responsibilities as well in order to eradicate the problem of white nationalism.
Clark believes social media giants such as Facebook reduce users’ exposure to any circulation of these views, and civil society groups should preach against hateful and harmful ideologies. If the US is able to redirect its focus in such a manner, maybe then it will able to root out the hate spreading to all corners of the globe.