When a Slovak extremist murdered two people in the Tepláreň bar in Bratislava in October 2022 (more here), he referred to the American ideology of white supremacy in his manifesto written in English. “The number of colored raiders in America keeps growing and growing, unchecked,” the killer wrote. The shooter also said he was inspired by the terrorist attack by a white racist earlier this year on a supermarket in a black community in Buffalo, New York.
The magazine Foreign Affairs notes that the United States, after decades of insufficient and ineffective efforts to suppress racism, has become an exemplary example of a country from which extremism and terrorism spread. At the same time, this is exactly what other states, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan, have blamed for many years as part of the war against terrorism.
Far-right violence today is increasingly a combination of ideology and strategy imported from the United States. The “Great Displacement” conspiracy theory, which claims that non-whites are being purposefully brought into Western countries to undermine the political power of white voters, began in France, but this kind of thinking has long been part of American white supremacism.
It is now making its way into mainstream rhetoric in the United States and is gaining an increasingly international audience, write the authors of the text in Foreign Affairs. American extremists also, they say, adopted from Marxism the strategic goal of “accelerationism,” which means hastening the collapse of society by inciting chaos and bloodshed.
The conspiracy theory of the great displacement gained a lot of attention in the US on social networks, especially after the victory of Barack Obama in the presidential elections, to which the followers of the extreme right expressed deep opposition. At the same time, by spreading the theory, they promoted the idea that violence is needed to collapse ruling institutions and society.
Neo-Nazis and Islamists agree on many things
The ideas of Islamist fanatics and neo-Nazis are often intertwined:
The theory of displacement or replacement claims that there is a constant decline of whites and the decline of their culture, which is supposed to be part of the deliberate strategy of the Jews and the liberal elites.
The theory holds that this goal is achieved through generous immigration laws and unchecked illegal migration, the enfranchisement of minority groups, and the erasure or fundamental change of traditional cultural norms. The theory was popularized by the French nationalist Renaud Camus in 2010, but its roots go back to the USA.
Support from Russia and Iran
The rise of populist movements around the world was, among other things, a reaction to the influx of refugees from the Middle East, as well as the activism of the Black Lives Matter movement. Right-wing populists then managed to win the elections in the USA in 2016 and in Brazil in 2019, and they also triumphed in the British Brexit referendum.
American extremism was then greatly strengthened by the government of Donald Trump, who in the presidential campaign repeatedly caricatured ethnic minorities and followers of religions other than Christianity as a threat to national security and to the Americans themselves.
When an activist was murdered in Charlottesville in 2017 after a “Unite the Right” rally, white supremacists chanted slogans like “Jews will not replace us” or “Blood and soil.” Trump later said there were “great people” on both sides (more here).
Racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia of American white supremacists are finding new followers all over the world thanks to social networks, as evidenced by the terrorist attack in New Zealand, where a follower of these ideologies killed 51 believers in the city of Christchurch in 2019 (more here).
“We have become exporters of right-wing extremism,” wrote terrorism expert Matthew Levitt. And the violence has profound implications for the United States, which is now seen around the world as weak, divided and vulnerable. This has already been noticed by America’s adversaries in Russia and Iran, who have begun to support similar extreme right-wing groups.
The right-wing extremism spreading from America is already trying to be stopped even by the long-standing partners of the USA. For example, the Canadian government designated one of the groups involved in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol – the Proud Boys – as a terrorist organization. Great Britain has included several American far-right groups on its terrorist lists.
The authors of the text in Foreign Affairs believe that the solution to the problem lies mainly in the United States and its policies. Of the 73 organizations that appear on the State Department’s terrorist list, not a single one is relevantly neo-Nazi or white supremacist. Although the article admits that such a move would be politicized and provoked criticism, it reminds us that already in 1870 the government intervened specifically against terrorism committed by the Kuklux Klan and other violent groups in the southern USA.