White Nationalism Tied to Fear of Losing Superior Status
While there is never a satisfactory answer to why massacres like the one in Christchurch occur, we need to understand, as best we can, what drove the individuals involved to commit a crime of such pure evil. In the Christchurch case we have the killer's manifesto, 74 pages of white nationalist, Islamophobic paranoia.
New York Magazine, Zak Cheney-Rice: "If reports are accurate, Friday’s shooter was deeply preoccupied with the idea that white people were being “replaced” — a preoccupation he shared with the marchers that took Charlottesville, Virginia, by storm in 2017. His alleged manifesto is steeped in the white nationalist fantasy of nonwhite immigrant hordes outbreeding and making white people strangers in their own countries ...."
If you review the academic literature over the last several years regarding the rise of white nationalism in the United States and elsewhere, the results are fairly consistent. The alt-right is driven by a sense that whites are being "victimized," "deprived," or "replaced."
George Hawley, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama and author of "Making Sense of the Alt-Right", has identified three characteristics of white nationalists.
George Hawley: "Although the racist right can be ideologically diverse and make many different arguments, there are three key sentiments that are widely shared across these movements: 1) a strong sense of white identity, 2) a belief in the importance of white solidarity, and 3) a sense of white victimization. Although someone who rates high on all of these views may not necessarily identify with the Alt-Right or a similar movement, we can anticipate all or nearly all individuals who are involved in white identity politics to share these attitudes."
Recent research regarding white nationalism in New Zealand, published in January, found similar results.
On the Psychological Function of Nationalistic “Whitelash”, Nikhil K. Sengupta, Danny Osborne, and Chris G. Sibley: "These findings suggest that endorsing beliefs about national superiority is one way a nation’s dominant ethnic group can cope with the negative psychological consequences of perceiving that their group is deprived."
Hawley's research then breaks down those who share these beliefs demographically. They tend to be low income or unemployed, non-college educated, more religious, from the South, and divorced. They also tend to be older than average and skew Republican or politically independent. There are no real gender differences.
Of course, understanding white nationalist beliefs and who is more likely to buy into their nonsense doesn't answer the more important question; how do we address the increasing threat from the alt-right.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content
Photo Credit: Jason Lander