Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Are White Supremacists More Dangerous than ISIS?

Are White Supremacists More Dangerous than ISIS?

Thursday, 10 June, 2021 - 11:30
Mamdouh al-Muhainy
Mamdouh al-Muhainy is the General Manager of Al Arabiya and Al Hadath.

Last week, President Biden stood up to deliver a speech about the Tulsa race massacre in which dozens of black people were killed and their homes and property burned down 100 years ago. Among the powerful phrases on the bitter memories of this tragic incident and the major lessons to learn from it, one phrase, in particular, sparked controversy. Biden asserted that white supremacy poses a far greater threat than Al-Qaeda and ISIS!


Is what Biden said true? And more importantly, why did he decide to say it now?


The most likely reasonable answer is that political considerations are the real reason for this controversial statement. It is a familiar and acceptable play in electoral politics. Leaders inflate dangers to suit their agenda and push people to quarrel about them, and this is what he did masterfully.


It is in Biden’s interest to raise the danger of the threat posed by intolerant whites above all of ISIS’ unforgettable monstrosities and barbaric actions, from beheadings to raping Yazidi women and burning captives alive. He stands to make gains on several levels with this rhetoric. It is popular with his party and quells its popular base’s fears of Trump’s reemergence on the shoulders of those angry fanatics who stormed the Capitol on January 6. It also puts the issue of racism back in the spotlight and stirs the emotions of those who resent what they call “systemic racism,” which is, in fact, more of a slogan rather than a fact on the ground.


But is what he said true? It is difficult to come to this conclusion, and one commentator wondered: If it were true, then why have we not seen these internal white terrorist groups raided and detained!?


The truth is that there are other implications for his rhetoric and other motives, on a higher level, whose contours we can already make out. Supremacy, in all of its colors, is an issue that invokes outrage, but humanity’s conscience no longer accepts it after the disgusting acts of the past. We have not seen racist groups take shape on a large scale like that seen in Nazi Germany or fascist Italy in years. There are racist individuals, who make a living stoking negative views about other races and debasing them, even in the most progressive countries. But racist ideology has been defeated, and it does not have the capacity to persuade large numbers of people to join it. It is possible to see pockets of racism, but armed racist organizations are far-fetched!


This contrasts sharply with the ideology of religious intolerance, which continues to draw strong support and sympathy. Though extremist religious groups have incurred successive defeats, they are capable of resurfacing in large numbers. For this reason, the most vicious groups seen in centuries are puritanical organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Nusra Front, Hezbollah and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq.


Eradicating extremist religious ideology is the only way to eradicate terrorism. Because racial supremacy was defeated intellectually and morally, we have not seen a single racist leader since Hitler, while after Bin Laden, we saw Nasrallah, Baghdadi, Joulani, Koatharani, Soleimani and a long list of belligerent leaders.


The question now is: are there other internal motives for Biden’s speech, and does it imply major repercussions? This is likely, as the rhetoric of Islamic organizations inside the United States build, to a large extent, on the rhetoric of political Islam, which, in turn, intersects with the notions advocated by violent groups. These organizations seek to downplay criticism directed against this extremist rhetoric, arguing that it is the result of political pressures and the absence of a democratic process.


We have seen these extremist organizations’ influence grow and how they managed to install some of their leaders in Congress, which has come to adopt extremely acrimonious rhetoric against the moderate Jewish state that is waging war against extremist groups, as well as propaganda for states that support extremists and terrorist groups. For this reason, we sometimes see soft civil touches placed on the Houthi leadership despite its adoption of an intolerant, insular discourse and its militias committing heinous crimes, the last of which was the attack on Marib. Leaders exploit such statements to downplay the dangers posed by extremists and to redirect the compass towards other directions (racist whites and others) to shuffle the cards, although Muslims make up the majority of these belligerent groups’ victims.


Biden’s speech, even if it were internal, will boost the morale of the extremists, who are currently celebrating the US withdrawal from Afghanistan - a move that sends the wrong messages. We saw in yesterday’s news broadcast the blowing up of schools and murdering, in cold blood, the medics who had been on their way to the scene, leaving the victims to drown in their blood.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia