4Chan memes, PewDiePie, Rudyard Kipling poems, ‘White genocide’ and other far right-wing conspiracy theories: the New Zealand mosque shooter’s “manifesto”, not to mention his deadly attack, seem to have sealed his place in history as the 21st Century’s deadliest, and most inhumane, troll.
28-year-old Brenton Tarrant has been charged with the murder of 49 people and the injury of dozens of others after he opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch on Friday, but his words speak just as loudly as his actions.
His manifesto, which was unearthed on 8chan, is the ultimate troll-bait and is carefully crafted to garner maximum public and media attention. Littered with references to both populist sentiments and fringe movements, from pre-Nazi era anti-semitism to modern day memery, the 74-page document, titled “The Great Replacement,” is a regurgitation of far-right conspiracy theories about how white European races are being deliberately replaced by non-white immigrants, in both jobs and nations. Indeed, every move by Tarrant seems calibrated to elicit the widest coverage, from his livestreaming the entire massacre on social media to his uttering “Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie” before embarking on his butcher’s work.
The latter is a catchphrase popularised by fans of PewDiePie, YouTube’s most-followed channel, which is run by Felix Kjellberg, a 29-year-old YouTuber and comedian with 89 million subscribers, who himself has been accused of racism and anti-semitism.
Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch.
I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person.
My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy.
— ƿ૯ωძɿ૯ƿɿ૯ (@pewdiepie) March 15, 2019
While Kjellberg distanced himself from the “endorsement”, the fact that he responded to the mention at all ensured that news of Tarrant’s misdeeds was covered and dissected even further. So now, added the host of debates raging around Tarrant’s actions will be discussions held by PewDiePie’s millions of followers as well as critics. And Tarrant’s message of hate goes more viral.
Similarly, the Australian citizen’s manifesto mentions an “invasion” by non-white people from India, China, and Turkey, and further delcares “the invaders must be removed from European soil, regardless from where they came or when they came. Roma, African, Indian, Turkish, Semitic or other. If they are not of our people, but live in our lands, they must be removed.” This, naturally, sparked further great soliloquies and discourses on the intransigence of race relations and the politics of prejudice in countries boasting the world’s largest internet populations.
Tarrant even threw in verses from The Beginnings, a poem by beloved author and raging racist Rudyard Kipling that talks about the English weaponizing their own hate during an advent of “Huns”. Written in 1917, during the wave of anti-German sentiment that was sweeping through Britain as a result of World War I, the poem is not least famous for the first instance of Huns being used a slur for Germans.
An alternate version of the poem has been spread online as “The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon”, with the ‘English’ being replaced by Saxon. This is the one Tarrant references in his document, clearly in context to the hatred he believes that all white Europeans ought to feel for ‘outsiders’ and people of other ethnicities.
The New Zealand attacker’s manifesto includes at poem by, ahem, Rudyard Kipling. The man who massacred Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch altered Kipling’s blood-and-soil hymn to Englishness, “The Beginnings”, by replacing references to “the English” with “the Saxons”
— Omar Waraich عمر (@OmarWaraich) March 15, 2019