Each massacre more horrific than the rest: what is the common thread?

christchurch shooter

The horrific massacre of Muslims by a self-described white supremacist in a mosque in New Zealand, has shocked the world. Some blame social media. Others point at lack of gun laws. But hate crimes by whites against non whites are happening around the world. CTIP makes a statement. Read more.

A Canada Talks Israel Palestine Editorial

The recent murder of Muslims in New Zealand has shocked the world. Unfortunately it seems to fit into a pattern of hate crimes committed by whites against people seen as “others”. They are committed against Blacks, Muslims, Jews and others who are seen as threats to societies in which whites have had historical privilege.

Here are three very ugly examples (among many):

Fear of Blacks

June 17, 2015. Charleston, S.C. church massacre. Dylan Roofer, a 21 year old white supremacist enters a Black Christian church and murders 9 African Americans at prayer. Roof’s website showed him posing with emblems associated with white supremacy and with photos of the Confederate battle flag.The speech by President Barak Obama at the funeral was a moving and powerful denunciation of white supremacist ideology.

Fear of Jews

October 17, 2018. Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue massacre.  Forty six year-old Robert Gregory Bowers killed 11 people at prayer in a Synagogue in Pittsburgh. He had posted earlier that the Synagogue’s Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which was involved in helping immigrants to the USA, “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people”

Fear of Muslims

March 15, 2019. Christchurch, N.Z. mosque murders. Twenty eight year old Brenton Tarrant murders 49 Muslims at prayer in two different mosques. In a 74-page manifesto posted on social media before the shooting, Tarrant explicitly vowed he would kill Muslim  “invaders”. He even made reference to Alexandre Bissonette, who killed six people praying in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.

A common thread: white fears over losing supremacy

Much commentary has focussed on the important role of “social media” in spreading fear, hate and terrorism.  Others point to lax gun laws.  Some commentators claim that the worldwide rise in terrorism is due to religious fundamentalism – often pointing to Islamic inspiration.

But these horrible massacres appear to be the most visible tip of a very white racist iceberg. In a recent opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, commentator Shaista Aziz argues that its time for white people to recognize white privilege and take on hate and bigotry.  “Nobody has a bigger role to play than white people in the West. In the West, white people, on being identified as “white” often have a fierce reaction of anger and discomfort (…) to being referred to as racialised”.

CTIP thinks more attention should be paid to a dangerous rise in a racist ideology based on the alleged superiority of the white race, and a fear that whites are losing dominance in the world.  Canadians should oppose attempts by politicians both in Canada and elsewhere to obscure the white supremacist ideology behind this disturbing trend. 

CTIP opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism against Black, Brown and Indigenous people.




  1. I suggest that we not name the perpetrators. They seem to want recognition, and naming them gives them the notoriety they seek. Best to speak out against the crime of course, but let them remain anonymous.

  2. Suppose all the elements Peter has mentioned, plus many more. account, for these lethal attacks – both the three cited and many more that have occurred. . Someone angry, deranged or amoral enough to commit these mass murders also has to be available or come out of the woodwork to commit these crimes egged on by social media, celebrity status etc.. . Perhaps best just to call it psychopathic mass murder and not necessarily try to speculate whether it fulfilled a terrorist definition or speculate too much about motivation,. Whether this Australian was concerned about losing or gaining white supremacy is perhaps giving him too much credit for thinking through such a heinous crime. Certainly Islamophobia and anti immigrant sentiments are evident but the prejudices do not usually except in very rare cases produce mass murder. .

  3. Naming them is less offensive than publishing photos of them: I was VERY impressed that the NZ judge in dealing with the perpetrator of these vile acts put a ban on any photographic/video footage being published that showed his face, so all news reports in NZ have the individual’s face blurred. Reason: he’s obviously out for publicity, don’t give it to him.

    Also impressed that many news reports, opinion pieces not using names of these horrible people.

    Peter, please delete the ugly photo.

      1. The picture may not make a difference in todays world but overall it does help to not publicize the perps. I think factual news reports (very hard to find) are ok to state the name etc. All other media products should omit the name and pics. These people are seeking infamy. It is a part of the motivation. Deny them that. It may not make a difference but it might. And why grant them what they were seeking. They are a nobody. The should be a nobody. And they should remain a nobody.

  4. I don’t buy the white supremacy thing, for various reasons.

    First, there are very few individuals who carry out grotesque violence against non-whites. They seem to almost always act alone. I would say they tend to be resentful losers more than ideologues.

    Second, do we refer to the Boko Haram insurgency as Muslim supremacist? Ot Saudi Arabia in Yemen as Sunni supremacist? Or Hindu supremacists in Kashmir?

    Third, how do you actually connect the dots between people who hold white supremacist views with the individual mass murderers? You could as reasonably blame the murders on increased immigration. We already hear people blaming these murders on, for example, increased calls for reduced immigration. In other words, we are tarring a legitimate political views with abetting terrorism.

    Also, your lead is inaccurate; but when we attack such heinous crimes, accuracy flies out the window. Each massacre has not been more horrific than the rest.


    1. Hey Arthur,
      I am always happy to hear your views.

      I do think that what is underlying all these attempts is a a change in the western world which has been almost entirely white (and christian) for a century and a half. Because it has been demographically white and Christian, it has been dominated by those Christian whites.

      At first the “others” were marginal and not threatening. But with time and increasing numbers, the “others” are changing the face of Canada etc and starting to change the power structure. (See the Black and Brown people in government and cabinet. That didn’t exist 10, 20,30 years ago.)

      I think that makes many whites uncomfortable, vaguely fearing that the are “losing” their country. (SEE the white slogan in the USA “you will not replace us”.) I didn’t understand that slogan at first.

      Some whites are very frightened by this, others of us, more liberal, are more comfortable with it and willing to adapt.

      IMHO, these violent attacks are the tip of the white supremacist iceberg.

    2. @arthurmilner
      “First, there are very few individuals who carry out grotesque violence against non-whites. ”

      I neither agree nor disagree with that statement due to a lack of information. How do you determine “very few”? What is the basis for that judgement? Does any group exceed the “very few” categorization?

      “Second, do we refer to the Boko Haram insurgency as Muslim supremacist? Ot Saudi Arabia in Yemen as Sunni supremacist? ”

      Some people do but I agree with you we don’t do that primarily. What we do is call them terrorists which is not what we call white people who commit such crimes. Do you think we should drop the supremacist label and call them terrorists or stop calling Boko Haram terrorists and call them supremacists?

      “Third, how do you actually connect the dots between people who hold white supremacist views with the individual mass murderers?”

      Because a lot of these mass murderers make their motivation public. They make their posts on fb or white supremacist sites. In some cases they publish entire manifestos,.If you look at the neonazi sites they are known to frequent their actions are often praised.

      “You could as reasonably blame the murders on increased immigration. ”

      That’s a mile out of the ballpark. Immigration is an entirely legal activity. You cannot reasonably argue that pursuit of a legal activity is justification for violence against immigrants. Really. That is absolutely insane and asinine.

      ” In other words, we are tarring a legitimate political views with abetting terrorism.”

      Wanting a reduction in immigration is a legitimate viewpoint. I disagree but it is totally legit. Resorting to violence, inciting violence, celebrating violence, spreading hate against immigrants is not a political viewpoint. It’s a crime. And needs to be treated as the serious violent crime that it is. Arguing for a political decision to limit immigration is not remotely connected to anything negative being directed against immigrants.

  5. Fear and hate are strongly connected but they are not the same.

    When I first visited Palestine/Israel, I was struck by the fact that both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians told me, “We would like to work with them peacefully and as equals but they just want to drive us out of here”. It seemed that it was fear that was causing the violence and injustice in that troubled area.

    However, sometimes, if you poke deeper, you find that the person is using fear as camouflage and is actually driven by avarice or a sense of entitlement. Just because they say that they are afraid doesn’t mean that they really are driven by fear. Even more confusing is the fact that sometimes when people say that they aren’t afraid, they actually are afraid and have good reason to be afraid.

    Confounding this confusion is people’s tendency to attribute the properties of a few individuals to all members of a group that includes those individuals. We hear extreme thoughts coming from a member of a group and assume that all members of that group share that opinion. We hear of a violent act by a member of some group and assume that all members of that group are prone to be violent. We may see that some members of a group are fearful and assume that all are.

    Often, fear gives rise to hatred and hateful acts engenders fear. Nevertheless, while it is easy to confuse them, we should not do so. The three people that you write about may have been motivated by a sense of entitlement rather than actual fear. It is that false sense of entitlement that we should be trying to eliminate.

  6. Peter, I completely agree with you that terrorism by white supremacists is a real threat and that white supremacist ideology has to be challenged by all who value the Liberal democratic heritage of Western countries.

    What I find remarkable is the fact that, Bashat Assad and Vladimir Putin, who have killed half a million Muslims are not at the top the world’s list of most wanted criminals.

    1. As usual, Roytenberg can’t stick to the subject. But he does make clear something important.

      Who cares about terrorism? The number of deaths is so small, it pales beside those from accident, suicide and other kinds of murder.

      Peter is right when he says that there “is a change in the western world which has been almost entirely white (and christian) for a century and a half … that makes many whites uncomfortable, vaguely fearing that they are “losing” their country.”

      That’s absolutely true and, of course, the vast majority who feel that way are not violent. Clearly that change has led to Brexit and the rise of the populist right. That’s true and very serious. I wouldn’t call it white supremacist (at this point, though it might become so) — rather ethnocentric, because it’s ubiquitous: it’s not like China and Japan welcome immigrants.

      The solution to these terrorist attacks is not fighting ethnocentricism, which has been and will be with us forever. Really, it’s (1), better police work and perhaps cooperation with non-violent white supremacists; and (2) accepting that a certain level of terrorist violence is here to stay (so let’s try to ignore it). The bigger question is how do we appeal to 25 percent of those who now vote for the populist right.

    2. Before you accuse Assad and Putin for mass murder, let see what US with at times support from western countries, including Canada did, much before the two you mention.
      US devastated parts of Afghanistan and killed many thousands, in order to drive out Russia. In the process they brought the Taliban to power, by supplying them with money and arms.

      They, (mainly US), destroyed a whole country – Iraq, (with the push from Israel and the US Zionists, who were the closest advisers to Bush. Also delusionally and criminally “protecting” Israel). The result was many folds of rise in terrorism of Islamist groups, who felt that these are attacks on Islam and Muslim countries.

      US and western countries unconditionally supported Israel with money, weapons and hundreds of other ways, which the results are unimaginable atrocities on Palestinians and the neighbouring Muslim countries for decades.

      They destroyed another Muslim country-Libya, in order to stop Qaddafi wanting to create a Pan African unity to have a united voice and stand up to the imperialist countries.Also stopping Qaddafi from having Russia managing the oil.

      If you study the real truth you find out that they are the ones who destroyed Syria and brought upon the “500,000” death and millions of displaced Syrians. (Again Israel was involved up to its eye balls in the planning, supplying info and attacking Syria).

      Not to mention all the indirectly and indirectly atrocities the US brought upon many other countries like in Central America, South America and Africa. If it’s was for changing regimes or raping these countries of their resources etc.
      Non of the places which I mentioned, not one iota had to do with bringing democracy to the people. Just pure crimes.
      Most of the terrorism which we are all subject to in today’s world is mainly the direct and indirect result of US, western countries and Israel.

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