Note: as time progresses, and victims lay in hospitals, the death toll of this terrorist attack rises. All statistics are taken as of Sunday, March 17th, 2019.
i don’t think the united states has been the same since june 16th 2015. why, you may ask? well, that was the day that donald trump announced his candidacy and launched a campaign contaminated with bigotry and hatred towards people of color, immigrants, women, muslims and many other minority groups. his continuous hate speech gave power to racists and comforted them enough to vocalize their twisted views as well. just when our society was starting to become a little more accepting (emphasis on a little). now, this is not to say that racists went extinct in the wake of the 21st century, but they were certainly hidden. they were more cautious of speaking on their beliefs out of fear of being attacked by the, oh so terrifying liberals. unfortunately, trump altered this mindset completely and indefinitely. he eased the constant trepidation of his supporters through his campaign and secured his (undeserved) spot in the oval office. ever since then, trump has preserved his hateful rhetoric and embedded it into his administration.
as a daughter and sister of immigrants, the xenophobia that trump has asserted through his persistence in building the wall, a “national emergency” as he says, has not only hurt me, but has also hurt millions of people around the world. the separation of children from their families, the deportations of tens of thousands of immigrants and the harsh conditions that ICE is putting them through at the border displays undeniable genocidal tendencies. note: mass forceful emigration is always how genocides start. see: the holocaust (or literally any other genocide ever).
however, today i want to talk about a subject that also hits close to home for me. an ideology that has been derived from the irrational fear of a peaceful majority due to the actions of a violent minority: islamophobia. as someone who comes from a muslim background, i have experienced islamophobia first hand, and having to witness its vigorous rise and severity within this nation and around the world, especially after the launch of trump's campaign and the implementation of his dangerous beliefs in the new administration, is simply put: scary.
the events that took place friday march 15th, at a mosque in christchurch, new zealand have left me feeling angry and dejected. i have spent all this time trying to formulate any kind of coherent thought on the subject and have found myself unable to do so because of the immense amount of sadness that this tragedy has put on me. 50 innocent lives lost in the name of white nationalism. around 50 homes, families, friendships, left shattered because of the loss of loved ones. it has truly left me terrified and disturbed. the only emotion that i have yet to feel from this attack is shock. i am not shocked that this happened. is that concerning? yes, it is and it most definitely should be, but the evident return of white supremacy in our society, orchestrated by the hate speech from world leaders, specifically the U.S. administration (remember when trump called the charlottesvile nazi’s quote on quote “fine people”?... yeah), is directly linked to these terrorist attacks and there is no denying that.
when asked if he believed that white nationalism was a rising threat, trump nonchalantly responded with “i don't really” and continued talking about the wall and how he wants to rid the nation of illegal “aliens.” trump combated an opportunity to denounce islamophobia by expressing his resentment towards immigrants and brown people. he continued that these white supremacists are only “a small group.” during his campaign, he communicated his belief that islam hates americans/christianity and that all muslims follow this absurd doctrine, insinuating that all muslims are inherently malevolent. aren’t muslim extremists a small group too though? trump’s inability to condemn white supremacy and flat out denying its rise is not only unsurprising, but expected.
the rhetoric that trump used to fuel his campaign, and now his administration, have INSPIRED these violent attackers. in the terrorist’s 87 page manifesto, he expressed his anti-immigrant and anti-muslim rhetoric and called immigrants “invaders”—words trump used on the same day as the massacre to describe immigrants as well.
muslims have been continuously stereotyped as terrorists, but most people tend to overlook the fact that 78% of deaths in 2018 were a result of white extremity. therefore, we must call it what it is: terrorism. it knows no race or religion, it is simply terrorism.
too often, the media labels white extremists as “mentally ill” and/or “loners” rather than their true titles: terrorists. the continuous humanization of literal nazi’s is preposterous and harrowing and to the media’s edification of these monsters, i have this to say: i believe that anyone who kills innocent people is mentally ill. nobody in their right mind would irrationally hurt another human being. every terrorist is mentally ill. but it is not and should never be used as an excuse.
we must acknowledge the toxicity that comes with not recognizing these people as terrorists and only linking terrorism to the muslim community, as this association is not only extremely damaging, but completely untrue. ignorance keeps trump and his supporters from accepting that, through real research (“fake news” to some), it has been proven that white extremists have caused more domestic terrorism than any other group within the nation. trump’s incapacity to deplore, and in turn abetting white supremacists, only empowers them by reassuring them to proceed with their hateful ideology.
if the roles were reversed, trump wouldn’t even wait a second to condemn muslim extremists and use their actions as an excuse to further his islamophobic agenda and villainize a population of over 1 billion people.
the return and rise of white supremacy is evident, strong and deadly. it is hard to call it a return though; it has always been here, only before it was quieter. still, we must reject any form of bigotry targeted towards minorities and make sure that white supremacists regain the fear that, for a short period of time, kept them hidden. many say they must crawl back into the shadows where they once resided and belong, but really, in an ideal world, they would be able to take off their trump 2020 hats and see the truth.
the recurring events of islamophobia around the world are horrifying and are detrimental to any efforts (or lack thereof) in eliminating irrational hate that is constantly and viciously hurled at the muslim community.
white supremacy must not be ignored any longer.
because it is real.
it is present.
and it is not going away. unless we stop it.