Brenton Tarrant

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who killed 50 last week in a New Zealand mosque, is the face of terrorism.


Since Sept. 11, 2001, millions of Americans have refused to board planes, enter restaurants, or go into movie theaters.

So often, the common thread in this altering of plans has been the presence of Black or Brown men, in their 20s or 30s, wearing traditional Muslim garb, appearing to be — God forbid — from the Middle East.

Perhaps they are connected to Al Qaeda? Perhaps ISIS? Maybe they have become radicalized extremists after spending far too many hours online engaged with fundamentalist Muslims espousing hatred for the West?

If you are guilty of trafficking in these sorts of stereotypes, guess what? Your problem, if you’ve been paying attention for the last decade, has become a whole lot bigger — and a whole lot whiter.

The murderous attack on peaceful Muslims during Friday prayers in New Zealand that left 50 dead and dozens more injured was carried out by a member of a demographic that in the United States has long since been crowned the King of Terror — an angry, dislocated white male.

Let’s call them what they are: White ISIS.

President Donald Trump has deftly learned the art of messaging to those who still believe that terrorism is the province of Muslims, or those who suggest incidents such as the slaughter in New Zealand are the act of a “lone wolf.”

After white supremacists carried tiki torches and chanted “Jews will not replace us” as they marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 and killed a white woman, Trump said there were “good people on both sides.”

Asked last week if the horror of New Zealand, carried out by 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was a sign of what experts everywhere say is the growing global threat of white supremacy, Trump, acutely aware that his political base has become the safe space for many of them, said it’s not a problem. It’s a “small group of people that have very, very serious problems” that are responsible for the global uptick in violence. Trump’s not going to call it what everyone else has long agreed it is. His unspoken word is a political investment.

Given the opportunity to disavow a monster who referred to Trump in his manifesto “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” Trump fumbled the opportunity to use the weight of his office to voice the appropriate condemnation.

What decent human being wouldn’t want to distance themselves from such an evil action? Especially after the arrested identified you in his manifesto as “a symbol of white identity and common purpose”? It’s almost as if he wants to give them cover.

In 2011, a white supremacist and neo-Nazi murdered 77 people in Norway. In 2015, a white supremacist walked into a Charleston, South Carolina, church and gunned down nine people in a prayer meeting. In 2017, a white supremacist shooter killed six and injured 19 in a mosque in Canada, and just last year another white supremacist shooter killed 11 in a synagogue.

Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have acknowledged that white supremacist groups have carried out more violent attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. In fact, global terrorism is down but it is up both here and in Western Europe, where right-wing terror masquerading as anti-immigrant politics is also blossoming.

These heinous acts aren’t being committed by women, although the cowards behind them have no problem killing them. Children? The same applies.

Swarthy Muslims aren’t shooting up synagogues in Pittsburgh. They aren’t butchering innocent worshipers in synagogues and churches in America, and they aren’t killing people from different political parties because they have differing views.

This, almost unilaterally, is the work of White ISIS.

John N. Mitchell has worked as a journalist for more than a quarter century. He can be reached at and Tweet at @freejohnmitchel.

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