Dealing with white supremacy and Islamophobia
The recent mosque massacre in New Zealand, which is rightly being described as a terrorist event bar none (only an intentional and bigoted fool would challenge the semantics at this point) in the island state, has succeeded in polarising opinion along the lines of a binary, the same intellectual ‘fringe inquiry’ which easily appeals to established categories, and which leads to reinforcing the decadent status-quo of predominant social introspection.
Whoever said that intellectual spaces were meant to play host to a democratic consensus of thought was a liar! No such thing exists in the domain of social reality. There are opinions, and then there are counter-opinions; each the sole purveyor of its own thought category.
There is, on one end, the ultra right-wing (what many in the USA increasingly prefer to term the ‘Alt-Right’, in an attempt to distance the ideology from the mainstream conservative right in a post-truth Trumpian world) ethos personified by the murdering white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant. Of the kind that, should you read his sloppy-attempt-at-a-manifesto titled ‘The Great Replacement’, seeks to build a eurocentric collection of white ethno-states; a hallmark of which would be the constitutional ascension of Caucasians over every other nationalist identity in the (fantastically imagined) said regions.
Hardly a novel or remarkable idea by any standard; if one considers the usual corpus of white supremacist literature that lies surreptitiously in wait on the margins of the everyday web. All set to beguile the ready recipient of its caustic, otherising messaging.
Violence, here, for achieving the end of the white supremacist utopia, is to be considered under the full weight of simple Machiavellian dictum. Under the unapologetic aspiration of the ‘ends justify the means’ argument. A lesson which Tarrant seems to have emotionally pranced upon during a particularly self-pitying trip to the French countryside – as he recounts in the memoir portion of his self-composed manuscript referenced above.
For our unassuming murderer, the tragic killing of 15-year-old Ebba Akerlund at the hands of Islamist militants in Stockholm (April 2017) was the final straw, and culminated in the conviction that a strategically executed episode of terrorism was the answer to resolving this transcontinental predilection. Of firmly dividing the world along the mythical, and European-devised, Orientalist and Occidentalist boundary. Hardly anything new to write home about.
These occurrences led to him contemplating despairingly the paranoid fears of an eventual ‘overtaking’ of the white races by a legally-invited influx of non-white immigrants into all heartlands of European descent. The motivation to commit to a personal transgression to remedy this situation was easy to come, thereafter; leading to two years of intense planning and speculation (as he, again, narrates in conversational prose in his manifesto).
What transpired next– the events of March 15– require no worded elucidation. The sheer horror cultivated through the numerous copies of the self-cam video still circulating on the Internet is not dependant on a memorial at this stage. It is etched into the living conscience of everyone who chanced to see it; irrespective of ideological leaning. It represents the degree of depravity, criminality, and ill-will to which a human being, similar to the barbarians depicted in the propaganda videos periodically released by ISIS and other terrorist outfits, can succumb to– in order to realize a passionately-held objective.
The stronghold of the pro-immigration trenches (naturally aligned with the sentiments of migrating/displaced Muslims and other non-white sociopolitical and ethnic groups) lies on the other side of the spectrum. This position seeks to fairly represent the aspirations of the minority class in white majoritarian spaces, and fiercely advocates the lived concept of multiculturalism and deep-rooted pluralism (as obvious safeguards, and in line with their understanding of the ‘natural course of things’).
The problem with both of these approaches is that they are primed to evade compromise. And the situation becomes significantly more compounded by the mechanizations of politicians on all sides of aisles– geared solely for personal ambition. No opportunities for ‘seeing eye-to-eye’ seem to present themselves, at present, in engaging– and seeing through– with the existing framework; which is a big, big shame.
For those believers and skeptics who like to subscribe to the view of a monolithic version of religion, the reality of a pluralism (often at opposing ends) within scriptural circles needs to understood and reckoned with
This situation needs to change, with the ideological understandings recounted above in need of some intelligent and right-hearted ‘puncturing’.
The belligerents, for one, need to listen to the genuine (rationally and ethically sound) concerns of the other side, and actively work towards reaching an adequate semblance of a middle ground. The best stage to resolve a burgeoning issue is during its nascence; never with violence, but always through reductive and ‘plane shifting’ dialogue. It is only by following the latter course that all instances of terror can be nipped in advance, their aggression-inciting ideologues checked. A truism that is understood by most people, even if they may feel rueful in terms of acting upon it.
For this to happen in the case of the (wrongfully or rightfully perceived) ‘Islamophobia/Immigrant-Native Replacement’ and ‘White Subjugation/Supremacy’ dialectic, both parties involved in the scuffle – and at all sociopolitical levels – need to discuss their issues with the other side candidly.
People of white heritage and ethnicities, for one, need to keep their marauding histories in check; particularly with regard to the last two to four hundred years, which saw European colonialism change (and in many cases, inexcusably pervert) the lived fabric of the present-day Asian, American and Australian continents. A situation which has resulted in massive waves of immigration to Western countries in the last century, and up to the present age.
The instigator of this current mess needs to be rightfully acknowledged (with an emphasis on self-acknowledgement). Additionally, the discussions pertaining to US-sponsored proxy warfare and socio-political intervention in developing countries (particularly of a Muslim heritage) needs to take place – and the (predominantly white) oppressor held to account.
Similarly, Muslim immigrants need to honestly come to terms with certain exclusionary interpretations of their primary scriptures, the kinds which continue to be sponsored, en masse, by several well-known Middle Eastern, and increasingly South Asian, states (including through the whims of some seminaries in this country). The faith-versions which, to put it bluntly, do indeed beget a predisposition to pushing the perceived ‘infidel’ to the extreme end of the social sphere. Retreating into simplistic denial, into the ‘safe harbour’ of false-equivalencies and mindless polemic, will not cut it any longer.
The jurisprudentially-reconstructionist scholarly works and opinion pieces of many Muslim Modernists, like Javed Ahmad Ghamidi and Allama Iqbal (before him), present a clear distinction between essentialist and pacific Islamic teachings (as they are contextually enshrined in the Quran, Hadith, and the Sunnah), and those fleshed out through dated and overtly sectarian faith models. And for those believers and skeptics who like to subscribe to the view of a monolithic version of religion, the reality of a pluralism (often at opposing ends) within scriptural circles needs to understood and reckoned with.
A populist engagement (tailored to the ‘easy’ verbiage of the street) with any of these concerns (read: flashpoints) has not taken place so far, and in any sincere setting. But a relatively peaceful future, for all the categories of people concerned with this analysis, hinges on the enactment of this conciliatory discourse.
It is the only way forward – the way out of further bloodletting and regression.