HOW does the psychopath who sought to massacre congregations at two mosques during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand, differ from those who perpetrate comparable atrocities in the name of Islam?
A toxic ideology based on the misanthropic notion that only a particular type of people — based on their ethnic origin, religion, sect or skin colour — have any right to exist? Tick. Locating and interacting online with a toxically like-minded community of fanatics? Tick. Routine dehumanisation of ‘the other’? Tick. A deep-set desire to instigate some sort of ‘clash of civilisations’? Tick.
Across much of the West, though, there is a tendency to differentiate between ‘jihadist violence’ and ‘far-right violence’, with the latter likely to be designated a lesser evil, or at least a smaller problem. This could be attributed to a built-in bias: the idea that whereas the Islamists are completely alienated from the precepts of Western civilisation, the white supremacists have something useful to say that could find a place in the mainstream media, if only they didn’t go to extremes.