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Candles are placed to commemorate victims of last week’s shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

The Two Internal Threats to Western Democracies, Hiding in Plain Sight

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The mass shooting last Friday at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a self-avowed white supremacist, and the violence in Paris on Saturday by the last vestiges of the Yellow Vest movement, have nothing substantively in common. But despite being discrete phenomena, they illustrate two of the greatest emerging threats to the internal cohesiveness of Western liberal democracies: the normalization of ethno-sectarian violence, and the legitimization of political violence.

Both threats have been hiding in plain sight for many years now. The Department of Homeland Security signaled the growing danger of far-right and white nationalist terrorist groups in the U.S. back in a 2009 report, but its conclusions were somehow considered too politically inflammatory and then promptly retracted. The subsequent massacres in 2015 at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., and last October at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn., make clear the cost paid for not heeding that earlier warning. ...

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