One of the consequences of the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques will be an reinvigorated effort by the left to silence and censor speech and debate on topics they consider out of bounds. We on the right of politics are used to being routinely and reflexively branded as racists, bigots, Islamophobes – indeed fascists – for criticising various aspects of the left’s multicultural project, open borders migration policies, identity politics and other progressive orthodoxies, or for generally venturing to discuss topics like demography, culture, social cohesion, free speech and individualism. But when a genuine, authentic fascist commits a mass atrocity, expect a major and concerted effort to browbeat the mainstream right into silence and submission on the ground that our rhetoric and arguments are mainstreaming hate and radicalising terrorists. Below, just three representative views from the blue checkmarks on the left:
There are going to be a lot of people squirming over the next few days, pretending that mainstreaming white nationalism and the constant drumbeat of Islamophobia and racism in Australia has no relationship to what happened today. That's just unbelievable, we should tell them so
— Jason Wilson (@jason_a_w) March 15, 2019
I feel so sad. We begged you to stop amplifying and normalising hatred and racism. But you told us we were 'politically correct' and 'freedom of speech' was more important.
The more you gave the far-right a platform, the more powerful they got. We begged you.
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) March 15, 2019
I want to punch every single right-wing pundit who says “don’t give the bad guy a platform; don’t publish his manifesto!”
He just parroted what you’ve said for 15 years straight. There’s nothing original in his manifesto. It’s exactly what you believe & exactly what you said.
— Jennifer C. Martin (@notreallyjcm) March 15, 2019
Strangely, the left is never so circumspect about their own rhetoric and arguments. After all, if the right’s contribution to conversations about terrorism, immigration and culture radicalises someone to gun down 50 people at prayer, then the left’s criticism of the West’s foreign policy in the Middle East, relentless pushing of the culture of victimhood and running down the history and culture of their own societies as embodying every evil under the sun similarly radicalises Muslim immigrants and their children and grandchildren into committing terrorist acts directed at their host societies. But there’s never begging or punching.
Both points of view are of course bullshit. “Mainstreaming white nationalism” is as spurious as “mainstreaming Muslim terrorism” and is a recipe for quarantining massive areas of foreign and social policy from any discussion – which is coincidentally what the large sections of the left want to achieve, as long as their views on a whole range of topics are tacitly accepted as the orthodoxy, the status quo, the norm that cannot be challenged. You might think that topics like immigration and multiculturalism are uniquely charged and therefore lend themselves to unique treatments, but this line of argument about “mainstreaming” and “radicalisation” can be just as easily extended to, for example, economics – imagine telling the mainstream left: “stop talking about economic inequality – that talk has already in the past radicalised some to kill hundred million people; your continuing rhetoric about egalitarianism and ‘the 1%’ is going to get more people killed”. And just for the record, I do believe that it’s only a matter of time – one or two years – until we see people associated with the communist “antifa” committing their own acts of terror against what they will deem to be legitimate targets for their hatred. But that’s not a reason to ban the left any more than it is, for example, to ban Islam because some Muslims become terrorists.
There have always been and there will always be extremists, whether they are motivated by religion or politics: fascists and communists, Islamists and Christianists (for the lack of a better term), white supremacists, black supremacists, Hindu supremacists, Asian supremacists. The task of a civilised society is to keep these extremes as small and as harmless as possible. Trying to play mini-totalitarians with democracy, political process and civil rights won’t get you there. There is a hell of a long road from debating various immigration policies to shooting up mosques, and to pretend otherwise is completely cynical and disingenuous. You don’t want to just quash extremism, you want to quash any and all opposition to your preferred point of views – which, of course, for some is the objective, and some are even quite honest about it. I won’t say kudos to them, but at least we know where they stand. Meanwhile, for those actually serious about combating extremism, you treat fascist extremists the same way you treat socialist extremists, Islamist extremist and all the other kinds of extremists. Sadly, there is plenty of experience in that area built up over decades if not centuries of history, and if those tasked with it sometimes don’t do good enough job, they nevertheless are trying to.
So no, I’m not going to roll over and silence myself for the sake of the left. I will keep writing what I think are considered contributions on the social and economic consequences of demographic trends, the importance of reasonable immigration policies, acculturation versus cultural relativism in multicultural policy, religious and political extremism, terrorism of whatever persuasion, the Western civilisation, free market and free trade, foreign policy, freedom of speech and other liberal freedoms, and the folly and the poison of identity politics and cultural Marxism. And if you can’t distinguish between political debate within the confines of a democratic system on the one hand and advocating violence and revolution on the other you either come in ignorance or bad faith.
I’ll leave the last words to my favourite Marxist, Brendan O’Neill:
The identitarian impulse has catastrophically divided society. It has nurtured cultural and racial conflict. It has given rise to a grotesque game of competitive grievance. It has had an inexorably fragmentary impact, ripping the social fabric. We are now actively invited to think racially, behave racially, conceive of ourselves as little more than white men or black women or whatever, and to engage with people through a racially and culturally heightened perspective: check your white privilege, watch your microaggressions, stay in your cultural lane, etc. It would be remarkable if such a depraved culture did nothelp to nurture new forms of violence. New Zealand confirms that identitarianism is now a scourge of the violent right as well as the woke left.
The only person to blame for the massacres in New Zealand is the man who carried them out. No identitarian politician or activist or commentator is responsible for this. But if we want to limit the attraction of such violent identitarian thinking, such vicious cultural paranoia, we must urgently make the case for a new humanist politics in which your character and humanity count for more than your skin colour and your heritage. The war of identities must end, whether it’s in public life or bloodstained places of worship.