The white supremacist accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, currently has no access to internet, TV, newspapers, and radio. Yet he’s still able to get his hateful ideology out into the world, all thanks to extremists on 4Chan and lax rules about letter writing in New Zealand prisons.
Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian national who allegedly broadcast his mass murder on Facebook Live earlier this year, wrote a six-page letter that was published to 4Chan’s /pol/ message board yesterday. The letter, dated July 4, 2019, was addressed to someone in Russia named Alan, and referred to a “great conflict on the horizon” as well as “a great amount of bloodshed” that he predicted for the future. Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder, and one count of terrorism.
Commenters on 4Chan initially doubted the letter’s authenticity, saying “it looks like it was written by a preschooler.” But prison officials in New Zealand have confirmed that the letter is real.
“I know a lot of New Zealanders will be surprised to hear that this offender is allowed to send and receive mail – but there are rights every prisoner has under the law as it stands,” New Zealand Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis told the news website Stuff today. Davis did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent early Wednesday.
In the letter, which appears to be a response to a letter first sent by “Alan,” the sender praises Russia, saying he last visited the country in 2015 and encourages Alan to find his Facebook photos from St. Petersburg and Moscow. He notes that Facebook has taken down his account but claims there are still archived versions floating around the internet.
He also goes into his political views, citing Plato’s The Republic, Richard Dawkins’s “idea of cultural evolution by memetics,” and Carl G. Jung’s “views on inherited racial conscious [sic].” He also cites Oswald Mosley, a British fascist who founded the Blackshirts in England during the 1930s and supported Adolf Hitler. Mosley is an incredibly popular figure on the far right, especially in the U.S. and Australia.
Portion of a photo posted to 4Chan this week showing a letter from the accused white supremacist terrorist. Screenshot: 4Chan
“I cannot go into any great detail about regrets or feeling as the guards will confiscate my letter if I do (to use as evidence),” the letter says. “But I can tell you I have no concern about myself and I only worry for Europe’s future.”
“Europe’s future,” is likely a reference to immigration by anyone who isn’t white. Tarrant’s manifesto, which is now banned from distribution in New Zealand, explicitly referred to immigration, made numerous references to internet culture, and called President Donald Trump a, “symbol of renewed white identity.”
The manifesto was titled “The Great Replacement,” a white supremacist conspiracy theory that says white people in places like the United States are being intentionally “replaced” by immigration from poorer countries. Versions of the conspiracy theory often include claims Jews are orchestrating the “replacement” as a way to destabilise and destroy western countries. George Soros is often named as one of the people behind this plot. If the theory sounds familiar, that’s because people like Tucker Carlson and President Trump repeat versions of it constantly.
Commenters on 4chan celebrated the letter yesterday and said they’d like to write to him as well. “I’d like to thank him for what he did,” one person wrote, in a chilling screed.
What “he did” was brutally murder 51 people in cold blood, including a 3-year-old boy. But the comments shouldn’t necessarily be surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention. The rise of white supremacist violence is being celebrated by terrorists all over the world and attacks closer to home, like the one in El Paso, Texas last week, show that this scourge isn’t going away anytime soon. The accused terrorist in El Paso killed 22 people at a Walmart because, he said, the U.S. was being “invaded” by Mexicans.
President Trump’s response to the numerous killings has been inadequate to say the least. After the Christchurch attack, for instance, Trump tweeted “best wishes,” to the victims, without acknowledging his role in radicalising so many young, white men.
The letter ends by referring to a “duty to your people,” which presumably is a reference to white people.
An unnamed corrections officer told the New Zealand website Newsroom that they’re reassessing the kind of mail that can be sent from jail, acknowledging that this particular letter “should have been withheld.”
“We have made changes to the management of this prisoner’s mail to ensure that our robust processes are as effective as we need them to be,” the officer said.