New Zealand's response to the Christchurch massacre, which claimed 50 innocent lives, was praiseworthy. Jacinda Ardern, the country's prime minister, deserves special credit for managing the crisis successfully. She appeared before cameras immediately after the deadly assault and described the incident as an act of terrorism. Unlike leaders in various other countries, Ardern refused to bury her head in the sand and tackled the problem head-on. Her decision not to say the attacker's name was indeed the best possible response to a terrorist who craved notoriety.
Ardern maintained her firm position at funeral ceremonies for the victims. The people of New Zealand followed suit and expressed solidarity with the country's Muslim community. That law enforcement officers wore the Islamic headscarf, the call to prayer was broadcast on national television, and Prime Minister Ardern referenced one of Prophet Muhammad's hadiths were highly significant. The terrorist, Brenton Tarrant, may have killed innocent Muslims, but the people of New Zealand deserved credit by doing the complete opposite.
Let us, however, stop right here. For the generosity of New Zealanders seems to get in the way of a full appreciation of the great threat ahead. That threat is the rise of increasingly organized white supremacism. This brand of racism feeds off global economic recession, the influx of refugees to Western countries, the irresponsible discourse of politicians and media outlets, the leniency of national governments in prosecuting "white" crimes, the ruthlessness of intelligence agencies and the erosion of international values.
White supremacists are organizing around the world and even resorting to violence in some places. What happened in New Zealand was indeed an act of terrorism. It was no coincidence that Tarrant mentioned a group called the Knights Templars in his manifesto. How deep the rabbit hole goes remains unclear at this time. Yet there are dozens of such organizations in Europe and the United States.
White supremacist organizations recently became bolder. There are many reasons for their newfound courage. Some of the main reasons include the far-right political climate in Europe and the reluctance of Western governments to prosecute white supremacism.
Racism and xenophobia, which are particularly strong currents in Europe and the United States, threaten to become the new normal. In countries like the Netherlands, France, Hungary and Poland, openly racist political parties enjoy sufficient popular support to govern those nations. That toxic climate is a driving force behind the rise of white supremacist organizations. Another important factor is the relationship between such groups and intelligence agencies. In recent years, some European governments accused Russia of supporting racist organizations in an attempt to destabilize Europe. Yet it is no secret that certain European governments themselves are in bed with white supremacists. The German intelligence agency was ostensibly complicit in the crimes of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), an anti-Turkish terrorist organization. The German court system stalled the legal proceedings for years before handing down sentences that did not meet the public's expectations.