White supremacists, radical Islamists share common traits

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


White supremacists regard radical Islamists as their polar opposites, but upon further scrutiny, their hateful ideologies resemble each other. Both worldviews are paranoid, exhibit a toxic blend of superiority and inferiority toward each other, are scornful of less extreme members of their own communities and are nostalgic for an imagined past of cultural dominance.

The Australian extremist’s nihilistic fantasy of revolutionary change from within echoes that of many jihadis and Islamic extremists, like combating the “near enemy,” i.e., the enemy within, is a central pillar of the ideology and political program of the Islamic State and partly explains why fellow Muslims were the largest target of the self-proclaimed caliphate’s murderous rage.

In 1936, Hassan al-Banna, the founding father of the Muslim Brotherhood, railed against and vilified their secular, liberal and progressive compatriots as cultural inauthentic mimics and fakes at best, and as sellouts and traitors at worst. This conviction that local elites are aiding and abetting the enemy by betraying their own culture and people is also a common refrain among white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right.

Such a belief is the root of Tarrant’s absurd assertion that “NGOs are directly involved in the genocide of the European people.” It also highlights why the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik—whom Tarrant wrote that he chose to attack the “near enemy” by murdering youth league summer campers, people he vilified as “cultural Marxists” instead of the more obvious target of Muslims or other minority groups whom he hated.

A watered-down version of this in mainstream right-wing and conservative circles is epitomized in the growing demonization of leftist intellectuals, academics and journalists, whom President Trump regularly and dangerously brands as the “enemies of the people.”

Tarrant in his manifesto oozes victimhood, equating the perceived erosion of privilege with oppression, rather like Islamists in some Muslim-majority countries who regard any concession to minorities or women as a sign of their own repression. He appropriates the language of occupation, anti-colonialism and the oppressed, despite living in a society founded by European settlers.

Tarrant claimed his actions were motivated by the urgent need to avert a supposed “white genocide,” a popular myth in far-right circles which maintains, absurdly, that there is a conspiracy in motion to kill off the white race. Outlandish conspiracy theories are common fodder in both far-right and Islamist circles, including anti-Semite tropes about the world being controlled by secretive wealthy Jews.

I would encourage all to read his well-rehearsed manifesto. Just a thought.

Cyrus Shamloo