On March 15, yet another terror attack had the world uniting to mourn the loss of 50 and renounce such egregious forms of violence, once again perpetuated by a white supremacist. While some world leaders like Donald Trump are quick to deny the rise of white supremacy as a substantial threat, the increase in both hate crimes and heinous massacres carried out in the name of white supremacy says otherwise.
New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant, who was greeted at the door of the mosque with “hello brother”, proceeded to open fire on Muslim worshippers due to a so-called “white genocide.” Prior to carrying out this massacre, the shooter posted an online manifesto against immigrants and prepared a helmet camera to livestream the violence.
This massacre is far from the first committed with to racist motivations. Less than six months ago, a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11. The Charlottesville “Unite The Right” rally was perhaps the most prominent showing of this rise of white supremacy, with confrontation with counter-protestors leading to the murder of Heather Heyer. In 2015, the Charleston church massacre left nine African Americans dead, with the shooter being a self-proclaimed white supremacist.
Across the United States, hate crimes have increased. While data can be unreliable because most crimes of this type go unreported, hate crimes rose 17 percent from 2017 to 2018 despite a decrease in overall violent crime during this period. Researchers explain how attackers against both Muslims and immigrants have been on the rise, at least in part due to political rhetoric.
It is clear that white supremacy is growing at a particularly rapid rate in western democracies and action is needed to combat terrorist attacks of this sort. The online following of white supremacy accounts has grown 600 percent since 2012, with many perpetrators of racist crimes communicating via social media. Major tech companies, however, have had a particularly difficult time identifying and blocking white supremacist internet activity.
Governments across the globe must continue to take action against and unequivocally renounce white supremacy of all forms. As college students, we must resist the urge to remain trapped in our university bubble and combat racism when we encounter it. While it is easy to place all responsibility on our political leaders, we can generate an impact at the individual level.
Junior CSD major Rachel Anton and active member of Penn State Hillel explains, “As a Jewish student, I refuse to turn a blind eye to what is happening.”
Anton goes on to say, “Now is the most crucial time to come together and open our eyes. We need to get comfortable making connections with people on campus who may not resemble our beliefs or values.”
From world leaders to college students, we all must work together to suppress violence of all forms, specifically when carried out under racist motivations. White supremacy threatens us all. We cannot sit idly by and let history repeat itself.