The terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week was shocking. People were mowed down as if they were characters in a video game. It was a startling act of violence, but it did not come out of nowhere. It happens when politicians, pundits and activists use words to divide and create hate.
The shooter acted in the name of a global white-nationalist ideology. The same ideology is defended in parts of South Africa as a counterweight against attempts to establish redress for centuries of repression against black people.
In a rambling 74-page screed, he sets this out. Incoherent in parts, it is shockingly casual about the need to avenge the purported annihilation of the white race. Assured about the nobility of his convictions, he likens himself to Nelson Mandela, believing he too will spend 27 years in prison and then fancies himself a future Nobel peace prize winner.
You’re inclined to laugh, but then you remember people died because of this. Fifty people who woke up and went to worship as a community. Fifty women, men and children who have had their futures stolen from them.
We’ve been here before.
The manifesto echoes that of right-wing Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011. He writes that “my identity is European. My blood is European.” In 2015, a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, in the United States.
This expression of racial identity seeks to emphasise the purported superiority of white people. The idea emerges that white identity should be the founding principle of Western society. It follows from the idea that white people are being exterminated.
“The Great Replacement” is a racist and misogynistic conspiracy theory that holds that white people face existential decline because of rising immigration in the West and falling birth rates among white women — because women are operating under the crazy assumption that they have autonomy over their own bodies.
“The Great Replacement” is much like our own “white genocide”. This month, Adriaan Nieuwoudt established Eureka in Namaqualand, exclusively for white people, created specifically to prevent the white “race” from going extinct in South Africa. He was also referenced by the Christchurch killer.
“If we look at all the political incitement for political gain against the white race on a daily basis, who can guarantee that this type of genocide that is busy playing out will not get out of hand?” Nieuwoudt asked EWN.
Words kill people.