The vast majority of some 20,000 terror victims in the world annually are non-white Muslims killed by non-white Muslim terrorists
It looked odd at the time. In late March our foreign minister tweeted “Today, at the UN Security Council, Canada condemned white supremacist terrorism. This grave terrorist threat must not be ignored and must be at the top of the agenda when we talk about confronting terrorism.” Really? I thought. At the top? Is it the one most likely to kill people?
Following the Easter massacre in Sri Lanka, with over 300 dead and which ISIL has now taken responsibility for, I think “odd” looks today like an insufficient term. Naturally everybody’s against white supremacy. And with solid historical reason given the evil it did over the past 500 years. But for all the horrors of racial slavery, the biggest killers in the 20th century were Mao, Stalin and Hitler, and in no case was skin colour an issue. In the Holocaust, ethnicity was explicit, and in the Holodomor, class warfare intersected with a cultural tradition of individual farming, not communal farming, to make Ukrainians the main target of Stalin’s deliberately engineered famine. And today the biggest threat isn’t the one related to race, and our foreign minister shouldn’t be in denial about it.
If you say anything that downplays white nationalism as an ideological force or source of violence, some fool will claim you’re blowing a racist dog whistle. And will probably misspell it. But the accusation is grotesque because one thing that struck me immediately about Chrystia Freeland’s tweet was its callousness about non-white lives. The vast majority of some 20,000 terror victims in the world, year after year, are not killed by white supremacists. The most common terror victims are non-white Muslims killed by non-white Muslim terrorists. Wikipedia, for instance, says four attacks last year killed over 100 people each. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria. All by Islamists. Drill down to the monthly list of smaller incidents and it’s almost entirely non-whites, killed by Islamists with the occasional Maoist or purely local ethnic motive.
Even if Freeland were concerned solely with Canadian lives, it would be difficult to explain why she considered white nationalism the top threat or even “grave.” A Google search reveals a lot of people hyperventilating about it. But the Wikipedia article on “Right-wing terrorism” cites the left-leaning New America think-tank’s list of such deaths in the United States since 2001 and it’s 86, an average of five a year.
Every one matters. But Nation of Islam member John Allen Muhammad alone killed 10 people of various races, ethnicities and genders in 2002. Nidal Hasan killed 13 at Fort Hood in 2009 in what the Obama administration insisted was “workplace violence.” Then there’s 9/11 or, as U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar put it, when “some people did something.”
Obviously white nationalists are squalid losers who can be dangerous. The man who killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, seems to have been primarily a bigot, though also anti-Muslim. As I wrote at the time, such terrorists and their ideologies must be taken seriously. But devoting scarce anti-terrorist resources to the wrong threat leaves you vulnerable in ways that are irresponsible.
Devoting scarce anti-terrorist resources to the wrong threat leaves you vulnerable in ways that are irresponsible
When I saw Freeland’s tweet I thought there really needs to be an adult in the room. Sure, it’s chic to condemn the West and white people. Especially in an undergraduate seminar. But she’s in government. And lest she, or someone else, be tempted to excuse her strange sense of priorities by saying she doesn’t have priorities, they’re all her top concern, grammar and logic alike forbid it.
It’s not what she said. And whoever guards everything guards nothing. Only one thing can be at “the top of the agenda,” and it should be those who kill thousands a year not those who kill dozens or fewer. How many UN members have seen a single death due to white nationalist terror in the past, say, 50 years? (Even in Canada, the horrific 2017 attack on a Quebec City mosque was motivated by religious hatred, which is not the same as racism; there are a great many white Muslims and non-white Christians.) But how many UN members have seen Islamist slaughter?
I wish people like Ms. Freeland worried more about anti-Christian violence internationally. And again whistle me no dogs. Most persecuted Christians are not white, from victims of Chinese government repression to those driven from their historic Middle Eastern communities by mob violence (first they came for the Jews), even in Bethlehem. Meanwhile, good luck denouncing anti-Semitism at the UN. Still, the possibility of genocide if Israel ever lost a war, or the wrong people got nuclear weapons, should be near the top of our security agenda. As for terror specifically, the Islamist kind is the biggest threat, especially to non-white Muslims.
Obviously we’re against all hate in principle and all terrorism in practice. But if we’re going to prioritize, it should be saving lives not sounding “woke” that tops our list. And white nationalism just isn’t that big a problem. It may be ugly, but it has few adherents and kills few people.