What happened in New Zealand was no isolated incident. Without a doubt, this phenomenon is an expression of islamophobia taken to the extreme, and the result of a terrifying massacre that left 50 dead and another 50 injured.
The attack in New Zealand is the worst terrorist attack perpetrated by an ultra-right wing militant in the history of the country.
This act of violence forces us to critically analyse the future of hate speech, and it makes us reflect on how ideological radicalisation leads to incomprehensible phenomena, where racism and xenophobia equate to physical violence that tears societies apart.
For the author of the attack, the motive of the crime is clear: avenge the death of thousands of people seemingly killed by ‘foreign invaders’. Theories that circulate within extreme right groups such as the “Great Replacement”, a racist pamphlet that signals that European populations are being replaced by non-European migrants, are an indication of how dangerous this propaganda and legitimation of hate speech is.
These massacres are perpetrated in the name of a white supremacy ideology that continues to penetrate weak democracies unable to counteract the extreme-right wave that from Trump to Bolsonaro continues affect the most fundamental institutions of our societies.
In these moments of profound grief and solidarity, we must acknowledge that alterations in democratic structures could be shaping the scenarios which permit white supremacy to express itself in such ways.
The new right: a worldwide phenomenon
Subgroups online have spread rapidly into virtual and real communities that defend extremist postures, white supremacy included, and they spread hatred without fear regarding migrants, women, and muslims among others. Racist ideas turned into fuel for militants have filled democratic agendas and have developed an ideological axis based on ethnocentrism that allows for a hegemony to be exercised over non-whites.