Any 28-year-old Australian has grown up in a time racism was quickly ratcheting up in the country’s public culture
The worst terror attack in New Zealand’s modern history took place on Friday, and the alleged perpetrator is an Australian.
Appropriately, this calamity has started a process of deep reflection in the man’s home country. Everywhere, decent Australians are asking, how did we get here? Do we own him?
There has been extensive, international discussion about the role of the online subculture of the far right in these events – the codes, memes, and signals of internet-mediated white supremacy.
There’s been less reflection on the fact that any 28 year old in Australia has grown up in a period when racism, xenophobia, and a hostility to Muslims in particular, were quickly ratcheting up in the country’s public culture.
In the period of the country’s enthusiastic participation in the War on Terror, Islam and Muslims have frequently been treated as public enemies, and hate speech against them has inexorably been normalised.
Australian racism did not of course begin in 2001. The country was settled by means of a genocidal frontier war, and commenced its independent existence with the exclusion of non-white migrants. White nationalism was practically Australia’s founding doctrine.