New Zealand: Islamophobia is a weapon of the 1%

March 29, 2019

The terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosques by a right-wing fanatic has exposed a dark network of white supremacist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant and misogynist people and movements that want to destroy all progressive aspects in the advance of humanity.

These networks openly admire United States President Donald Trump and other right-wing ideologues because their hatreds and fears are being manipulated by these same “establishment” forces. When Trump says “I think Islam hates us” and “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in,” referring to the migrant caravan from South America to the US, and bans migrants from “Muslim countries” the message of hate and bigotry is clear.

Political “leaders” throughout the so-called Western world — the advanced capitalist countries in North America, Europe, Japan and Australasia, echo or amplify these sentiments and set loose the demons that attacked Christchurch.

These are also the countries that made themselves rich by exploiting the wealth of the so-called “developing” world and looted their human and mineral resources to become the richest nations on earth.

Islamophobic prejudice has become a dominant narrative for the right wing and racist forces, in part because it is a useful tool used by the rulers of the US and its “allies” — including New Zealand on some occasions — to provide political cover to their wars of empire across the globe in recent decades.

Millions of lives have been lost as the US and its allies waged war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria and supported proxy wars on Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. This slaughter has happened because this region holds most of the world’s oil supplies and for no other reason.

The recent attacks on Venezuela are because they have oil, but also because they have begun to try and talk about the socialist alternative — a 21st Century socialism — that the world now desperately needs. Venezuela is subject to slander and lies of a different sort and we should also be showing that country the solidarity it needs to survive.

Millions more lives have been displaced as people flee “failed states” in search of refuge only to be denied entry, detained, or simply allowed to drown in the Mediterranean Sea and off Australia’s coast, or die of dehydration crossing the Mexican border.

During this period of never-ending wars, world capitalism has suffered its deepest international economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Austerity has become the order of the day throughout the advanced capitalist world as unemployment booms while budgets for health, welfare and education are being cut. Blaming the refugee or migrant for these economic calamities has become a familiar refrain for right-wing parties and movements.

That is what makes Islamophobia such a powerful tool. It is a weapon to serve the needs of a war-mongering profit-seeking system and a way of keeping the oppressed and exploited people of the world fighting among ourselves instead of against our common enemy — the ruling 1% in these advanced capitalist countries.

We need to do more, much more, to challenge all forms of bigotry and hatred. This includes on a personal level calling out anyone and everyone who peddles the lies and hatreds. It means physically protecting where necessary any people targetted for abuse for their race, religion, ethnicity, sex or gender.

We also need to mobilise in New Zealand to repudiate this attack and tell the world we will not be divided or terrorised into despair or surrender.

The government must declare a national day of mourning for those killed. This was done after the Christchurch earthquake and these people deserve no less.

The union movement, churches and migrant communities should take this day as an opportunity to go onto the streets in our hundreds of thousands. There should be actions in every town and city across New Zealand to declare “peace, love and solidarity” with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and that we reject all forms of racism, Islamophobia, bigotry and hatred towards any part of our community.

[Mike Treen is the National Director of Unite union in New Zealand. This article originally appeared in The Daily Blog.]

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