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What did the Christchurch mosque shooter believe? Inside the mind of a collectivist killer

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As Muslims gathered for Friday prayers, a shooter livestreamed himself entering the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and killing 41 people with a semiautomatic weapon. He then drove to the Masjid mosque in nearby Linwood, where seven more have died. (An additional victim died off the premises, bringing the death toll to 49 as of this writing.) Police also found several improvised explosive devices on vehicles in the area.

Authorities have arrested four people – three men and one woman – but only one man has been charged with murder. Although the 28-year-old Australian’s name has not been released, he identified himself as Brenton Tarrant in the video.

A man posting online as Brenton Tarrant posted a 74-page manifesto titled The Great Replacement the morning before the attack to explain his motivation. His writing reveals a callous racial collectivist and self-described “eco-fascist” motivated in part by a concern about overpopulation, whose model society is the People’s Republic of China, and who believes murdering CEOs, enacting global trade regulations, and raising the minimum wage are keys to preventing “white genocide.”

What was his motivation?

Tarrant writes that below-replacement white birthrates, paired with the high fertility of non-white immigrants, will lead to the replacement of the white population in the West. He quotes a white nationalist mantra (the 14 words) and refers to the spontaneous process as “white genocide.”

He writes that he acts to avenge Muslim terrorist attacks on the West, as well as the Rotherham child sex ring, which victimized 1,400 British girls.

The 2017 election of Emmanuel Macron as president of France over “civic nationalist” (and “milquetoast”) Marine Le Pen of the National Front provided another tipping point. Tarrant describes himself as an “ethno-nationalist”: A civic nationalist believes in a multiethnic and pluralistic nation, while an ethno-nationalist believes race and soil are coterminous.

Why did he use a semiautomatic weapon?

Tarrant writes that he specifically chose a semiautomatic weapon in the hopes that leftists will press for gun control legislation, ultimately provoking a racial civil war in the United States. Charles Manson voiced similar hopes for his 1969 murder spree.

What are the mosque shooter’s political views?

Tarrant describes himself as a fascist and writes that “I mostly agree with Sir Oswald Mosley,” the founder the British Union of Fascists.“Conservatism is corporatism in disguise,” he writes. “I want no part of it.”

What are his concerns about environmentalism and overpopulation?

He adds, “[I] consider myself an Eco-fascist by nature.” He writes that he was partly motivated by concerns about overpopulation and environmental catastrophe. While “the environment is being destroyed by over population [sic], we Europeans are one of the groups that are not over populating the world. … Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.” Tarrant writes that he had no children in part because they are “ultimately destructive to nature and culture.” Under capitalism, Tarrant adds, “The natural environment is industrialized, pulverized and commoditized.”

Alt-Right figures including Richard Spencer and David Duke have embraced environmentalist or eco-fascist views – emphasizing the “soil” aspect of “blood-and-soil” – in recent years, and the works of Finnish eco-fascist Pentti Linkola are published by Alt-Right publisher Artkos Media. (Linkola wrote, “The worst enemy of life is too much life: the excess of human life.”)

Why would a white nationalist extol China?

“The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China,” Tarrant writes. The Alt-Right has a soft spot for Asian nations, including North Korea, where mercantilist policies are often put in the service of racial purity.

How does he feel about individual rights and the free market?

Tarrant despises capitalism. His manifesto uses socialist-sounding language while dismissing “the myth of the individual, the value of work (productivity for the benefit of your capitalist owners) and the sovereignty of private property (to ensure none of us get grand ideas of taking the unearned wealth of our owners).”

The cover of his manifesto praises “environmentalism,” “responsible markets,” and “worker’s [sic] rights” as ways to build a racially pure society.

What specific economic policies does this terrorist promote?

Tarrant writes that he would abolish free trade, restrict trade to white nations, raise the minimum wage, and promote the unionization of the work force. And murder CEOs.

“If an ethnocentric European future is to be achieved global free markets and the trade of goods is to be discouraged at all costs,” Tarrant writes. “BLOCK FOREIGN GOODS FROM WHITE MARKETS.” (Screaming capitalization in original.)

Since much of the non-white “invasion” responds to capitalist desire for low-wage labor, workers’ wages must be raised in any way possible, “[w]hether that is by encouraging and pushing increases to the minimum wage; furthering the unionization of workers; increasing the native birthrate and thereby reducing the need for the importation of labour; increasing the rights of workers; pushing for the increase in automation or advancement of industrial labour replacement or any other tactic that is available.”

CEOs are “greedfilled [sic] bastards [who] expect to replace our people with a race of low intellect, low agency, muddled, muddied masses” so that new immigrants can “earn our wealthy benefactors their second yachts and their fifth properties!”

“KILL YOUR LOCAL ANTI-WHITE CEO,” he instructs his national socialist, terrorist followers.

How do his views compare to those of other Alt-Right terrorists?

His views are in keeping with other white nationalist extremists who have resorted to violence. Jeremy Joseph Christian, an Alt-Right terrorist arrested for murdering two Muslims at a Portland train station in 2017, supported Bernie Sanders over the issue of tariffs and economic interventionism.

Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik – whom Tarrant says he contacted and asked for a “blessing” before the Christchurch attack – wrote in his own 1,500-page manifesto that his economic views fell between socialism and social democracy. He favored the “development of alternative energy” to “save the environment” and argued it is “essential” that “national states have a controlling stake in” multinational corporations.

James Wenneker Von Brunn, who opened fire inside the Holocaust Museum in 2009, wrote in his book Kill the Best Gentiles that Christianity is a “hoax,” denounced “JEW CAPITALISTS,” and concluded that “WESTERN SOCIALISM, represents the future of the West.” (Capitalization in the original.)

Why do racialists hate capitalism and the free market so much?

In the Alt-Right/white nationalist worldview, all economic and social activity should be segregated to maximize the power of the white race. The Alt-Right correctly assesses that the free market allows the peaceful exchange of goods and services between any two willing parties. These economic ties create social relationships, friendships, even marriages, which threaten the ethnic “purity” of their desired ethnostate.

Would he spare anyone?

No. Tarrant wrote, since there “are no innocents” a racial war, racialists must aim at “[p]reventing these enemies from reaching adulthood and their full potential.”

Did the Christchurch mosque shooter claim to be a Christian?

Answering whether Brenton Tarrant is a Christian is, in his words, “complicated. When I know, I will tell you.”The complication may be a semantic distinction derived from Breivik’s notion that it is possible to be a cultural Christian without believing in God. Breivik wrote that his followers “don’t need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian atheist.”

How would a Christian respond?

Christianity begins with a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ as expressed in the Apostles or Nicene Creed. Building on the divine commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” Christianity has led the way in affirming the innate human dignity of all life from conception to natural death, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, nationality, sex, or disability. Every murder, especially the mass killing of innocent civilians at prayer, is a tragedy that violates Western values.

Life must be taken only by lawful authorities after the commission of a crime, as determined by just laws rooted in natural law and right reason.

Speaking as a member of the Eastern Christian tradition, I am unaware of a single church canon forbidding marriage between members of two ethnic groups in the 2,000-year history of the Christian Church and its ecclesiastical law. However, ethnic separatism has been condemned as anti-Christian.

Where can I learn more about the views of Alt-Right terrorists?

I’ll be discussing the Alt-Right again at this year’s Acton University. If you haven’t yet, consider signing up.

You can read Brenton Tarrant’s full manifesto, The Great Replacement, here – if you have the stomach.

(Photo credit: Felipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com.)

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Rev. Ben Johnson Rev. Ben Johnson is Senior Editor at the Acton Institute.

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