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The rhetorics of white nationalism and the war on terror have an easy time overlapping because they share the same emotional architecture, a hysterical vision of civilizational conflict justified by exaggerated or false claims of victimization.At the heart of the shooter’s manifesto is the lie embedded in his use of the word invaders to describe Middle Eastern immigrants.“While attention was elsewhere, a deadly and irreconcilable enemy was laying plans and training recruits,” he writes.
Among those exaggerations: they are incapable of reason, which makes negotiations useless; they are close to obtaining nuclear weapons; they have the ability to change the way Americans live their daily lives; they want to destroy American civilization, and the only way to prevent that is to demonize and destroy theirs.
White nationalists are happy to acknowledge the civilizational character of their fight, often eager to embrace the label “racist,” whereas most of the war on terror’s architects have always denied that their conflict is with Muslims as such.
What white nationalists call the “invasion” of the West by non-native Muslims over the past few years is in reality a refugee crisis caused by the West, by America’s failed attempt to remake the Middle East in its own image, which ushered in political chaos and destroyed the foundations of social peace in countries all over the region.
And that doomed project would never have made it out the door but for the country’s political leaders and commentators relentlessly exaggerating the threats posed by terrorists and the states that supported them.
(No need to be too fastidious about whether it was actually a mosque: a white supremacist killed six people at a Sikh temple in 2012, and one wonders if he knew or cared about the difference.) “There’s a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed,” one American soldier told the London Evening Standard shortly after the invasion of Iraq.
“Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that.The shooter’s meditations continued as he drove around France and became increasingly frustrated at his inability to find a city or town populated only by white people.Despairing, he claims very conveniently to have come across a cemetery for the European dead of the World Wars.” He answers that a number of experiences during two months he spent traveling around Europe in 2017 set his course: The first event that begun [sic] the change was the terror attack in Stockholm, on the 7th of April 2017.It was another terror attack in the seemingly never ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life. The jaded cynicism with which I had greeted previous attacks didn’t eventuate.It was conceived as a war that would be fought everywhere, without regard for national boundaries.“We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them,” President Bush said just hours after the attacks on September 11, putting the world on notice that the US would target anything and anyone.Something, this time, was different The reveal is that he was upset by the death of Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl who was killed along with four other people when a man who had expressed sympathy with the Islamic State and other extremist organizations hijacked a truck and ran people down on a busy street in Stockholm.Like Jack Bauer, galvanized into action when terrorists kidnap his wife and daughter in the first season of the shooter meditated on a victimized white girl and “broke through [his] own jaded cynicism like a sledgehammer.” For the shooter, and for other right-wing extremists, Akerlund’s image is a totem, a memorial that functions as both a goad to anger and a reminder of the necessity of revenge.I think: ‘They hit us at home and now it’s our turn.’” The 28-year-old Australian citizen who murdered dozens of Muslims in two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques on March 15 made it clear that vengeance motivated him, too.Sixteen years later, he is part of the coalition of the willing.