The world wakes to yet another evil terrorist atrocity, this time in sleepy New Zealand where a far right terrorist maniac has carried out a series of shootings at two mosques. The first comment I heard was from a member of the Bangladesh cricket team that was on its way to one of the mosques for morning prayers. “Allah saved us,” he said. What a terrible tragedy that Allah could not save the many dead and injured.
I am not a religious man. I am an atheist, bordering on anti-theism. I do not believe in any of the many available gods, I do not respect any religions or gods but for all that I respect the right of those who practice their religion peacefully in their own homes and religious buildings for as long as their beliefs have no impact on mine. And I condemn, unreservedly, murderous attacks such as these.
We know little about what has happened in Christchurch, other than the fact that a madman has murdered innocent people. We know that the alleged killer was known to have far right connections and influences. More than that, we understand, I hope, that this is where far right fanaticism can take us.
We hear much about, and condemn, crazed islamists carrying out horrendous atrocities in the name of Allah. 9/11, Charlie Hebdo, 7/7, Madrid, the Manchester MEN. There have been many more. We know that islamist terrorists are but a tiny number of the religion of islam. The terrorists are but a small percentage of muslims but small percentage of a huge worldwide religion is still a large number of people. Rightly, we call on so called muslim communities to get their act together. Then, something like Christchurch happens and we are reminded that not all the world’s problems with terrorism are the work of one religion.
Of course, we must caution against making rash conclusions. Nonetheless, we must also caution that this is how nationalism and fascism ends. It starts with propaganda, blaming certain communities for the general problems of society and progresses, if that’s the word, to populist politicians and activists providing so called solutions. We have seen this in Britain with Brexit, led by far right English nationalists like Nigel Farage (remember his ‘breaking point’ poster), progresses with ‘personalities’ like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the alias of Tommy Robinson, feeding the concerns of the people and stoking hatred and fear and it concludes with out there fascists killing people. It has happened here, too. Remember the murder by a fascist of Jo Cox MP? We cannot know whether this is an accurate representation of what happened in New Zealand but we do know what happens when nationalism takes root in society.
We have Brexit, Farage, Banks, Johnson and Laxley-Lennon, Hungary and Italy are under threat from the hard right, KGB thug Vladimir Putin rules Russia and there’s Donald Trump in the USA, echoing the words and actions of Joseph Goebbels.
I repeat once more: this is where nationalism ends. It is an inevitable consequence. History proves it beyond reasonable doubt. In Germany, it ended up with Hitler. And it what happens when good people do nothing. If we can’t learn the lessons of the past, we are doomed to repeat them.