Globalism and pluralism hold key to peaceful co-existence

March 19, 2019 18:12
A police officer places flowers at the entrance of Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch, New Zealand on Sunday. Decision-makers around the world should closely stand by pluralism. Photo: Reuters

The entire world was shocked by the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday that killed 50 and left dozens injured.

As Jacinda Ardern, the country’s prime minister, put it, last Friday was “one of New Zealand's darkest days”.

The arrested suspect in the massacre, Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, appeared in court the next day, during which he seemed to be anything but remorseful, and even flashed an apparent “white power” gesture in the dock with a smile on his face.

In fact, Tarrant was more than eager to acknowledge his support for the racist belief of white supremacy.

In a 74-page “manifesto” which he emailed to the New Zealand prime minister’s office and some other lawmakers shortly before he staged the carnage, Tarrant wrote: “To most of all show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands, our homelands are our own and that, as long as a white man still lives, they will NEVER conquer our lands and they will never replace our people.”

Apart from that, Tarrant also brought up two things in his manifesto that are particularly noteworthy.

First, he referred to US President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity”.

Second, he said “the nation with the closest political and social values” to his own is China.

While, logically speaking, it is not difficult to understand why Trump was “paid tribute” by Tarrant, given previous criticisms for the former’s alleged sympathy towards white supremacy, it is indeed pretty mind-boggling as to why he would identify with China.

Perhaps a relatively more reasonable inference we can draw is that Tarrant may approve of Beijing’s religious policy, particularly its tough stance on Muslims in Xinjiang.

Of course, Trump would never admit that he is a white supremacist, nor would he think that white supremacy would ever pose any real threat to global security.

Nevertheless, a xenophobic mentality is reflected in his take on new immigrants, or else he wouldn’t have proposed to build a wall along the US-Mexico border nor would he have devised various measures that are directed at new immigrants over the past two years.

In the eyes of Trump, globalism and pluralism are just a joke, and all he cares about is how to carry out his “America First” policy.

Unfortunately, xenophobia is exactly the kind of sentiment which white supremacism feeds on.

And throughout human history, xenophobic sentiment has given rise to countless and never-ending killings, some of which were based on religion, some on race, and some on ideology.

After the bloodshed in Christchurch, Ardern condemned the white supremacist ideology.

“These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact have no place in the world,” Ardern said.

She said: "Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it.

“And those values I can assure you will not and cannot be shaken by this attack,” the prime minister said.

Decision-makers around the world should closely stand by pluralism as Ardern does because the only result of “tit for tat” is more violence, and all that hate breeds is more hate. It is only inclusiveness that can dissolve hatred.

This time it might be a white supremacist who murdered dozens of non-white people, but nobody can tell whether it will be the other way around next time.

Take the United States as an example. According to a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama in February, last year the number of white nationalist hate groups across the US soared from 100 to 148, whereas black nationalist groups also jumped from 233 to 264.

In our opinion, globalization and pluralism are the key to peaceful co-existence among mankind. In particular, the US and China, as the world’s two largest economies, have a pivotal role to play in preventing the spread of xenophobia.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 18

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal