Andrew Anglin found humor in the livestreamed video of a man in New Zealand storming into the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, then shooting and killing 49 people.
Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, noted that a video of the shooting was being taken down almost as fast as people could put it up.
“That being said, of the mass shootings I have seen this is by far the funniest one of them all,” Anglin wrote Friday morning, just hours after the mass killings. He continued:
This dude is already a folk hero to so many, and we have to agree that what he did was indisputably heroic in the classical sense. It is not an uncommon thing for heroes to act foolishly. The odds are people are going to crowdfund statues and memorials in honor of this guy. This dude is funny and joking around, which makes him seem far more funny and personable than the death cult invaders that he is slaughtering.
The shootings come at a high tide of global anti-Muslim sentiment. In the U.S., President Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban” barring people from seven majority-Muslim countries from immigrating sparked fierce political debate. And far-right candidates and parties around the globe regularly demonize Muslims for political gain.
As the horror of the killings spread across the world, on the far right, reactions were a mix of celebration, victimhood and warnings that events such as these are the first steps toward a race war.
The responses were typical of the racist right, when a white attacker kills Muslims or other people of color: ugly, self-pitying and showing very little regard for the victims.
A silent gunman
The gunman livestreaming the attack from a head-mounted camera said he was a 28-year-old Australian called Brenton Tarrant. The footage showed him firing indiscriminately at men, women and children from close range inside the Al Noor mosque.
“Remember, lads! Subscribe to PewDiePie,” Tarrant said – in reference to a controversial Swedish YouTube star popular among the racist “alt-right” – before driving to the mosque.
His guns and equipment were marked in white with white supremacist slogans, including the “14 Words” that are a common refrain among the far right and racist communities and were first coined by American white nationalist David Lane.
Footage filmed by the gunman at the Al Noor mosque showed him driving up to the front door, before taking weapons from his car, entering the mosque and firing at people inside.
On the video, Tarrant’s voice is rarely heard. He’s mostly present as hands holding a gun and pulling the trigger, with some heavy breathing in the background. After shooting multiple people at the mosque, Tarrant went outside and began firing down the street.
At one point in the video, a woman lying in the street after being shot can be heard yelling, “Help me!” before Tarrant shoots her several more times. The attacker ran over her with his car as he fled the scene.
Almost 15 minutes into the video, Tarrant is seen driving. He says: “It’s time for the fuel. Let’s burn these f------ mosques to the ground,” and “There wasn’t really time to aim because there were so many targets.”
Tarrant also fired a shotgun through his windshield at someone and moments later blew out his passenger-side window with a shotgun blast aimed at a pedestrian.
Before the attack, Tarrant posted a 73-page manifesto titled “The Great Replacement” outlining his intentions and espousing far right and anti-immigrant ideology.
A celebration of optics
In typical fashion, Anglin stopped just short of openly applauding the shooter in posts on the Daily Stormer.
"Listen: no one gives a f--- about Moslems. These people kill us every day, they kidnap our girls, they overcome our countries and riot in the streets, and normal people are laughing their asses off that for once in history someone actually gave back what we’ve been getting,” Anglin wrote. “I don’t support this attack, obviously – I am a man of peace. But it sure as hell wasn’t bad optics."
Andrew Auernheimer, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist hacker who goes by “weev,” echoed those sentiments.
“Even though it is bad behavior, it definitely feels really f------ good to watch,” Weev posted Thursday night on the Daily Stormer.
A poster called “TheKidsAreAltRight” also took to the Daily Stormer to validate the shooting.
“I think my thirst for vengeance has officially surpassed my fear of repercussions when it comes to events like this,” he wrote. “I’m not endorsing violence, but when it happens to our enemies I’ve reached the point where I can’t muster a single f--- to give.”
In the incel community, where men blame their lack of sex or relationships on women, “Cope With The Rope” described himself as a “f----- person”
“I love bloodshed and seeing people suffer,” he wrote.
“I think we can see two different strategies at play from Breivik and Tarrant,” a commenter going by “Psychopathic Anime Nazi” wrote on the Daily Stormer, referring to Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right terrorist in Norway who killed 77 people in 2011. “Breivik did the big brain targeted elimination of traitors in the making. Tarrant attacks people anyone can recognize as invaders. It seems like the public is finding Tarrant more palatable than Breivik.”
Self-pity and a war
Those names and that of Tarrant prompted not self-reflection on the far right, but self-pity and victimhood.
“Can you imagine always being blamed for things that you have absolutely no control over? Can you imagine always being asked to apologize for these things?” Mike Peinovich, a white nationalist and antisemitic podcaster, wrote on Twitter. “Can you imagine being hated whether or not you do apologize? This is what being a White person in America today feels like.”
Since the beginning of the recent wave of far-right killings that began in 2014 with Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage through Isla Vista, California, the movement has been actively trying to rationalize acts of mass violence inspired by white supremacist ideology.
In his manifesto, Roof wrote that the nine murders he committed in a Charleston church in 2015 were inspired by information he read on the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) website about an apparently rampant but underreported black-on-white crime problem. Jared Taylor, acting as the CCC’s spokesman, said that the website simply “educated [Roof]. Our site told him the truth about interracial crime. What he then decided to do with that truth is absolutely not our responsibility.”
“If there were awareness of the proportion of black-on-white crime, if this were considered a problem that people agonized over,” Taylor said in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, “perhaps this guy would not have killed people.”
In response to more recent attacks, voices within the radical right have doubled down on their efforts to shift the blame away from their own hateful ideology. Violence, they claim, is inevitable in multicultural societies. “Yes, [Robert] Bowers did something evil and stupid,” white nationalist Greg Johnson wrote after the 2018 shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 people dead. “But Bowers’ underlying motive – fear of white race replacement – is not irrational or insane. It is a healthy reaction to objective facts.”
Johnson called Bowers and others like him “canaries in a coal mine” – harbingers of what is to come if we continue to live in racially heterogeneous societies. Pittsburgh marked a moment when leaders in the radical right appeared less interested in disavowing violence than they were in justifying it.
On Gab, Bowers communicated with several far-right figures, including Bradley Dean Griffin, who runs the Occidental Dissent website and posts as “Hunter Wallace.”
Griffin, in the hours after the shootings, said whites need to “steer clear of these people and violent, nihilistic, self-destructive behavior,” because it will push for more calls to punish the far right.
“The bloodshed in New Zealand will simply be used to further demonize Whites, deplatform pro-White voices from social media and fuel the push for gun control,” Griffin wrote Friday morning. “It will be used as fodder to further stigmatize nationalism and prop up multiculturalism.”
Racist “alt-right” commentator Stefan Molyneux took to Twitter on Friday to distance the movement from Tarrant.
“The NZ shooter hated Conservatism. He called himself an ‘eco-fascist.’ His favourite government was Communist China,” Molyneux wrote. “He claimed to be as equally Left as he was Right. Please do some research before polarizing this horror.”
Some, though, saw the shooting as the latest volley in the prelude to a violent race war.
A user calling himself “Woodkerne” posted on the neo-Nazi site Stormfront on Friday morning that elections and politics will mask what is happening temporarily, but a “racial war is inevitable.”
“This will become the norm through our homelands. Some will say this is terrible and harms our cause. … Only violence and bloodshed will solve our problems in the long run,” Woodkerne wrote. “The satanic hordes have been very active in these early stages of this war. When the awoken and enraged white man takes the stage we will clear them all out. THE FIRE RISES 14.”
“Movnforward,” who posted to Gab, the far-right social media channel popular with racists and neo-Nazis, said on Friday that the coming war will leave people with “no pleasant meadow” in which to rest and wait for everything to end.
“Do not expect to survive, the only thing you should expect is a true war and to die the death of a true soldier. EXPECT A SOLDIERS FIGHT AND A SOLDIERS DEATH,” Movnforward wrote. “You will find no reprieve, not in Iceland, not in Poland, not in New Zealand, not in Argentina, not in Ukraine, not anywhere in the world. I know because I have been there.”
Photo illustration by SPLC