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  • Norman Young

The Pagan Root of Identitarian Violence

Human beings desire immortality. For some people, this desire manifests itself in a weird faith that technology will soon be able to preserve (or download) their brain. For others, the desire finds fulfillment in a religious belief that the soul is eternal or in a hope for supernatural bodily resurrection. But, even for those who lack any sort of faith, religious or otherwise, they still get a sense of immortality from the continued existence of their culture, social group, or race. It is this last group that seems especially prone to violence.

Early Friday morning, a shooter opened fire at a New Zealand mosque, killing 49 people. According to reports, the shooter consciously imitated previous white identitarian shooters, including Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik. If you are interested in a thorough breakdown of what was going through the shooter’s mind without wading through over 70 pages of his rambling, head here.

Many media outlets are refusing to publish the killer’s name, worried that doing so will lead to copycat killings. Some politicians have proposed that the government should clamp down on online message boards where people who share the shooter’s ideology congregate. Still others have moved straight to the well-worn gun control issue. All of these reactions miss the point.

By American standards, New Zealand’s gun control laws are positively draconian—self-defense and personal protection are not even considered valid reasons to purchase, carry, or use a firearm. Restrictions on online message boards would merely clamp down on free speech—which is something few would tolerate if the situation were reversed and the perpetrator became radicalized in a mosque. Copycat killers are a real danger, but few of the recent mass shootings have been motivated by something as vague as mere notoriety. All of these reactions distract our focus from the real motivating factor in this case.