'Christchurch attack among most serious anti-Muslim violence in West'

Keith Preston

The incident in Christchurch, New Zealand has been among the most serious incident of violence against Muslims in the West, an American analyst in Virginia says.

“Clearly, the shootings were a terrorist act in the sense of being motivated by a desire to gain political influence or promote a political cause through violence,” said Keith Preston, chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com, in an interview with the Balkans Post.

Here’s the full transcript of the interview:

Balkans Post: At least 50 people have been killed in an attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. Mr. Preston, I want to get your reaction to this kind of violence against Muslims living in the West?

Keith Preston: During the past 20 years, the conflict between the Western nations and the Islamic world has escalated, and Muslim communities in the West have grown larger and become more visible. This combination of political conflict and demographic change has created tensions that have led to increased incidents of violence against Muslims in the West. The incident in Christchurch, New Zealand has been among the most serious incident of this kind in terms of the level of violence specifically directed against members of Muslim communities, and the number of people that were killed or injured. Other comparable incidents have occurred in the past. Among these were a bombing in Moscow in 2006, the terrorist attacks carried out by Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011, a mass shooting in Munich, Germany in 2016, and a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada in 2017. Many lesser incidents involving smaller numbers of casualties or physical assaults have occurred as well.

BP: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the shootings as a “terrorist attack.” What’s the significance of this?

Keith Preston: Clearly, the shootings were a terrorist act in the sense of being motivated by a desire to gain political influence or promote a political cause through violence. However, a wider question involves the issue of whether the main suspect in these crimes was acting alone, or in collusion with others, and whether or not he was part of a wider network of potential terrorists. The majority of the perpetrators of these kinds of incidents are isolated individuals that are motivated by a desire to not only promote their political ideas, but also to gain instant personal recognition. So far, this appears to be the case with the suspect in the Christchurch shootings.

BP: The Australian gunman, identified as Brenton Tarrant, published a manifesto in which he praised President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” What’s your take on this phenomenon?

Keith Preston: Brenton Tarrant claimed a variety of figures as an inspiration, including an African-American woman named Candace Owens, who is a conservative political commentator in the United States. Individuals who carry out crimes such as public shootings or serial murders will often claim bizarre influences. This has been true of those who have committed crimes of these kinds for both political and non-political reasons. Many right-wing extremists have expressed praise for President Donald Trump, although the President has always disavowed the individuals who carry out these kinds of crimes. The admiration of Trump by these extremists is rooted more in projection than in reality. Trump is very much an establishment figure, despite his maverick style. Extremists often view world events from the perspective of their own distorted view of reality.

BP: How does the mainstream media in the West report such incidents in comparison with attacks carried out by ISIS and other terrorist groups?

Keith Preston: It depends on which sectors of the Western media are involved. The right-wing media in the West is very hostile to Muslims, and often promotes anti-Muslim bias in its reporting of the news. Muslim migrants in the West are presented as an existential threat to Western civilization. Other sectors of the Western media tend to portray terrorist incidents carried out by groups such as ISIS as isolated incidents perpetrated by individuals or groups of extremists. A similar variation occurs when terrorist actions by racists or anti-Muslim extremists take place. The more liberal sectors of the media will portray such incidents as a representation of a wider social pattern or political atmosphere of racism or anti-Muslim sentiments, while the conservative media will typically view actions of these kinds as isolated incidents caused by extremists.

Keith Preston was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States. He received degrees in Religious Studies, History, and Sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the founder and director of American Revolutionary Vanguard and the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.Com. He has also been a contributor to LewRockwell.Com, Antiwar.Com, Anti-State.Com, Taki’s Magazine, Radix Journal, and AlternativeRight.Com. He is the author of six books, and was awarded the 2008 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize by the United Kingdom’s Libertarian Alliance. Keith has been a featured speaker at conferences of the National Policy Institute, H. L. Mencken Club, and Anarchapulco. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs and internet broadcasts, and appeared as a guest analyst on Russia Today, Press TV and the BBC.