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Book Review: ‘Fascists Among Us’ – Online hate and the Christchurch massacre

Whenever a terrorist incident occurs somewhere in the world, a tell-all book or movie-of-the-week is sure to follow. Mostly it’s an exploitative response that is shallow and adds nothing to anyone’s understanding of the phenomenon. Fascists Among Us by Jeff Sparrow is not such a book. It covers the Christchurch mosque attack but eschews such approaches as pseudo-first-person narrative or lurid descriptions of events by on-the-scene observers. Rather, it makes an honest attempt to get into the motivations behind the attack. The most commendable aspect of this being the rejection of superficial psychological explanations, in favour of acknowledging the political impetus behind events. For example, Sparrow argues Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto “…expresses-with stark clarity-a distinctive political program.” (p.10). He references the term ‘autogenic’ to describe massacres driven by psychopathology or personal problems but explicitly notes that the murderer says in his document on the killings that they were “…a politically motivated terrorist attack” but “…he used them to rewrite the massacre script, injecting political content into an apolitical form” (p. 73).

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