The tragic mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, have inspired debate on a variety of issues, including gun control, Islamophobia, and white supremacy. One raised by many on the left and the press is the supposed global rise of white nationalism. When interviewed on the subject, President Donald Trump stated his belief that white supremacists represent a “small group of people.”
As you might guess, progressives took issue with the president’s comments, claiming that white supremacy is a growing threat around the world. While there has certainly been a backlash against the immigration policies that the European Union has forced upon its member nations, it is possible the claim that white nationalism is burgeoning in the Western world could be exaggerated.
Democrats Take Issue With Trump
On the day of the shooting, President Trump spoke with reporters about the incident. When asked to give his thoughts on the rise of white nationalism, he said: “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
Progressives took to the airwaves and social media to lambast the president for his comments, arguing that he was downplaying the threat of white supremacist attacks on a global scale. In an appearance on CNN, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) stated:
“I’m deeply disappointed in the president’s dismissal, Jake. You’ve seen these facts. I’ve seen these facts. The FBI has reaffirmed these facts. Even during my time at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, white supremacy and white supremacist activity was still an issue, particularly in the ranks of law enforcement.”
Race-baiter extraordinaire Shaun King also tweeted his disapproval: “F—— infuriating. The press just asked Trump if he believed white nationalism and white supremacy is a growing problem around the world? He then said ‘No. Not really.’”
On CNN, a former CIA operative said: “What he was doing in New Zealand is trying to incite Americans to pick up arms against outsiders. This movement is much more dangerous right now than the Islamic State.”
The threat of white supremacist attacks is definitely an issue in the Western world; the United States has seen more than its fair share of these acts. But is it true that people are in more danger from racist extremists than other types of terrorism?
What’s the Truth?
The shooter outlined the motivation behind his murderous acts in a manifesto that he published online. In the document, he expressed animus toward Muslims who immigrate into Western nations and lamented the perceived decline of whites in Europe. From his writings, it is clear that he is an ethnonationalist attempting to spark a violent conflict between minorities and whites in the West.
Left-leaning news outlets have published a significant number of articles over the years claiming that white nationalism is on the rise globally, and that these individuals pose a threat to Western civilization. But it is important to note that these reports do not refer to any studies or authenticated data on the number of individuals affiliated with extremist groups.
When it comes to terrorist attacks in Europe, the E.U. Terrorism and Trend Report reveals that both attempted and successful white nationalist attacks increased from 65 in 2015 to 99 in 2016. These numbers might seem to support the argument of the left, but it is worth pointing out that Islamic terrorist attacks are still far more deadly than those perpetrated by white supremacists.
Indeed, the annual E.U. study shows that that in 2016, 135 of the total 142 victims of terrorism were killed by Islamic extremists; in 2015, 687 people were murdered by jihadists. It is clear that there is a significant gap between the number of victims killed by members of white nationalist and Islamist groups.
It appears that the tragic massacre in New Zealand is not an indication that white nationalist terror is a growing threat to the West. While the number of attacks has increased, the number of victims has not seen much of a rise, especially when compared to Islamic terrorism. This is not to say that the authorities should ignore any type of terrorism. However, it seems clear that the progressive left uses the Christchurch event for one purpose: to perpetuate the false narrative of widespread white bigotry.