New Zealand Massacre | The Rise of the Far Right | Education, Status, and Wealth

MARCH 18, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“Shefrin and Statman hypothesize the existence of a split in the human psyche. One side of our personality is an internal planner with a long-term perspective, an authority who insists on decisions that weight the future more heavily than the present. The other side seeks immediate gratification. These two sides are in constant conflict.”

“Game theory says that the true source of uncertainty lies in the intentions of others.”

– Peter L. Bernstein




An Irreparable Tragedy Birthed From A Preventable Evil: A 28-year-old Australian man, is thought to have been the lone shooter who gunned down 50 people and injured dozens more last Friday at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. During the attack he used a helmet-mounted camera to livestream in graphic detail on Facebook his assault on Muslim worshippers at Al Noor Mosque. The shooter said he wanted to better spread his views in the media; in addition to the livefeed, he had posted a 74-page manifesto on social media spelling out his allegiance to White Nationalism and his hatred of immigrants and minorities. In the manifesto he said that he wanted revenge for attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims, and proclaimed his respect for an American white supremacist and mass murderer convicted for killing nine African Americans in the Charleston, SC church shooting in June, 2015. The document also mentioned Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose …”

The victims included young children and people from at least a half-dozen countries.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said many of those “directly affected by this shooting may have been migrants to New Zealand” or even refugees. The placid, remote country had been so isolated from the mass shootings that had plagued the US that police officers rarely carried guns, which is one reason the shooter chose it. He wrote that an attack on New Zealand would show that no place on earth was safe and even a country that far away is subject to mass migration. On Sunday Ardern said the suspect would be tried in New Zealand, and that her government would discuss gun regulation at a meeting on Monday.




Orban Says The Darndest Things: The EU has largely tolerated Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s crackdown on civil society and virulently anti-migrant rhetoric. But the farther Orban goes, the less the EU knows how to deal with it. “It’s shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters last month. Schinas was referring to the conspiracy theory Orban has spread that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros have plotted to flood Europe with Muslim migrants. Most of Hungary’s news media is controlled by a foundation loyal to the government, which accuses EU leaders of mishandling the 2015 refugee crisis that resulted in more than 1 million asylum-seekers entering Europe. When a government controls the news media, the result is a population who believe what the government wants them to believe, particularly if it’s fear-mongering. “I’m afraid of George Soros because he brought the migrants,” said one woman, though she isn’t sure who Soros is. “Now I am afraid of the EU.” She explains why she’s afraid: migrants “rape our women and kill people. It’s all over the news.” (NPR)

Ethiopia Honors Plane Crash Victims: A memorial service was held Sunday at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to honor the nine Ethiopian passengers and seven airline employees aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed a week earlier. The mourners accompanied empty coffins as it was not possible to recover remains. All 157 victims onboard died in a fiery explosion when the plane hurtled to the ground minutes after takeoff. Families of the Ethiopian victims visited the crash site to see the wreckage for themselves. The crash victims had come from more than 35 countries, and included at least 22 employees of United Nations-affiliated agencies. Kenya suffered the single largest toll, with at least 32 dead. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 was the second such plane to crash in less than five months. (NYT) Additional read: “Airplane Grounding Tests Boeing’s Influence In Washington” (NPR)




The Hate Heard Round The World: After the mass shootings in New Zealand, carried out by a professed white supremacist who hates immigrants, President Trump was asked at the White House whether white nationalists were a growing threat around the world. Trump replied: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very very serious problems.” Experts who study extremism and monitor hate groups beg to differ. They point to hard numbers that show a sharp rise in violent white extremism around the globe, and especially in the US.

Kathleen Blee is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research on white extremism shows that mainstream middle-class and even upper-middle-class men are increasingly being drawn into this movement, which is mostly online and worldwide. “A lot of them are very casual viewers initially, and they get pulled into these very extreme ideas,” Blee says. “They operate in an ideological world of people that reinforce each other’s ideas but may never actually meet each other in person.” Usually these men are already spending huge amounts of time online, and discover or are recruited into racist communities, then become radicalized. “It’s more that this world can create people who are aimless, marginalized, isolated and quite extreme in their thinking,” Blee says.

In the US, white supremacist-motivated violence and murders have spiked. The Anti-Defamation League reports that ideologically-motivated extremists killed at least 50 people in the US last year. All but one of those murders had at least some links to right-wing extremism; only one was blamed on Islamist extremism. The director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism says therein lies another widespread and dangerous misconception. In truth, “This threat of homegrown, far-right-wing white nationalism, terrorism and extremism is the most prominent threat,” he said. The rhetoric leaders spout matters. As another expert noted, whether intentional or not, Trump speaks the language ​of white supremacists when he promotes a travel ban against majority-Muslim countries, and when he repeatedly talks about an “invasion” of immigrants at the southern border.




The Far Right Is Not Alright: In the 18 months since the Unite the Right far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia ended in chaos, a protester’s death and political turmoil, the wave of white supremacy seen there has spawned individual episodes of extreme violence, as well as one giant terrorist attack still in the planning stage by US coast guard lieutenant. Christopher Hasson was arrested last month before he could carry out his mission of mass murder. Hasson’s inner life was as a Neo-Nazi with a huge cache of weapons, a hit list of prominent Democrats and media figures, and the desire to kill billions of people across the globe. A researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center said his group has been following a spike in far-right violence. “I think what we’re starting to see now is people becoming more disheartened and disconnected from mainstream politics. We believe we can expect more violence as people become increasingly frustrated and unmoored,” he said. (Guardian)

Technology’s Soulless Tools & Ethics: After the mass shooting in Christchurch was live streamed by the attacker and linked to his Facebook account, the massacre in real time went viral on various social media platforms. Companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube scrambled to take it down, but once something goes viral it’s difficult to stop its spread. That’s been raising questions about live broadcasting on social media, and who should have access to it. One professor of ethics and philosophy says the viral nature of social media livestreaming makes it an ideal tool for extremist groups to spread their message. But that same technology and social media access also allows people to provide evidence in the event, for example, of previously undocumented police brutality. (NPR) Additional read: “Facebook failed to block 20% of uploaded New Zealand shooter videos” (TechCrunch)




The Debate Over Higher Education: Accessibility, Status, and Wealth: Daily Pnut’s publisher, Tim Hsia, cofounded Service to School, a nonprofit several years ago to help US military veterans apply to higher education programs to maximize their education benefits. Service to School has assisted hundreds of enlisted service members with their transition and enrollment into our nation’s top schools. According to the Veterans Affairs: “62% of Student Veterans are first-generation students and 47% of Student Veterans have children.” If you know of enlisted veterans who are applying to higher education programs, then please tell them about Service to School.




“The information you have is not the information you want. The information you want is not the information you need. The information you need is not the information you can obtain. The information you can obtain costs more than you want to pay.” – Peter L. Bernstein

Please consider making a donation to Daily Pnut, an independently operated and bootstrapped publication. Many thanks to everyone who already supports us!

Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: