In the wake of the sheer horror of the Christchurch terrorist massacre last Friday, one bleak truth remains largely unaddressed.
Sure, the right has thrown up their hands in mock horror at the very suggestion that their ceaseless agenda of hatred and “othering” validates the ideology of international white supremacist terror.
Sure, liberals and the left have been unusually strong in calling out the likes of Murdoch, May, The Mail et. al. who revel in their well-rewarded roles creating this rancid atmosphere.
Obviously, some supposedly “centrist” elements have stumbled around hopelessly, like BBC’s “News”night platforming of the small but vicious Generation Identity on Friday, with requisite softball questions. (Many campaigners who work tirelessly for various causes may wonder why they don’t earn the studio slots they think they deserve. It turns out those who share their ideas might just not be brutally murdering enough people.)
Again on the BBC, Andrew Marr was quick to shift the conversation on his Sunday morning show, away from establishment media and political complicity, towards blithely blaming “the internet”… a thing that many such journalists still appear somewhat bemused by.
And quite how The Mirror allowed footage of the carnage to be streamed is anyone’s guess. It’s perhaps harder for Facebook, the original source, to have struck it down immediately because it was broadcast as a default. But The Mirror’s output will have been the result of a decision and not a junior one. The Mail Online behaved likewise and also posted the butcher’s “manifesto” (a mystifying flattering term for a rant that’s pretty much a loose compilation of 8-chan paranoia), but it’s less surprising for the website of a historically hard-right organisation to air this propaganda.
Yet for all this and so much more that could be said about the coverage, what remains to be sufficiently scrutinised is the number of people who view such large scale terror on a spectrum encompassing understandable/excusable/necessary/good.
Over the weekend there have been at least 3 incidents in the UK (an abused taxi driver, school graffiti, a non-fatal stabbing) strongly baring the hallmarks of this far-right movement. Those responsible are not likely to think the mosque massacres anything but inspiring and agreeable.
Phone-in shows on Friday featured callers spouting about “payback”. Social media is constantly awash with fantasies about civil war, and attempts to provoke a “clash of civilisations” are as widespread among global white nationalists as among their IS style counterparts.
The notion that Islamophobia itself is “a fiction” is pushed by overpaid mainstream bigmouths like Melanie Phillips, while Rod Liddle, by contrast, says there isn’t enough of it. Both of these specimens are darlings of the supposedly “impartial” BBC.
The Conservative Party is riddled with Islamophobia (check out Evolve Politics recent exposure.) Most media have consistently given The Tories a free pass on this, leaving it to independent media and campaign groups to put in the journalistic leg-work so alien to their mainstream careerist counterparts.
Global white nationalism is neither new nor hard to trace, but even responsible and liberal media have often been behind the curve in monitoring the phenomena and the “mainstream” forces that help feed it.
Some may think this piece doesn’t express enough sympathy for victims, an accusation akin to the ever wheeled-out notion that we shouldn’t “politicise” such events.
(Note: terror is definitively political)
Sadly, as upset and horrified as many of us are, we are simultaneously not massively shocked. Large scale far-right violence really isn’t that rare. Our fury may be a defensive cover for our upset, and not everyone needs to spend hours listening to hacks analyse snuff-movie style content to know what’s gone on. Spectacle is exactly what the terrorists want.
One improvement in coverage that’s to be welcomed though, is that the terrorists are, in some quarters, getting less of the personalised attention they seek than used to be the case. The lessons of copy-cat school shooting sprees seem to be slowly taking root, though some papers (i.e The Mirror) used Saturday’s front pages to weirdly go on about what an “angelic” child the main culprit was.
But we are sick of the set-piece “thoughts and prayers” style mantras from the likes of racists like May, who brought us “Go Home” vans, “Citizens of Nowhere” and the embedded bigotry of Windrush. We are furious at the likes of the BBC who remain slow to even label such incidents as ‘terrorist’ at all, for reasons that don’t require explanation.
We are dazed by the hypocrisy, willful ignorance, sub-GCSE analysis, euphemisms, apologism and stupid naivety, which all amount to connivance with terror.
Of course, there is a spectrum of complicity – some of the naivety, for example, can be moderately forgivable if we exclude from our forgiveness those who are, we are told, professional “journalists.”
We can expect much of the right to deny their obvious part in this. That’s standard. We can applaud if liberals and the left turn up the heat on the water-carriers for global fascist terror. But naivety will still be a problem across the board until we square up to the hideous fact that, whether they say so publicly or not, a significant minority of people think events like last Friday are more or less okay.