06 October 2017
Here: Some of our favourite anti-racism ads.
The content created the killer.
As daylight began to wane on the night of June 15 last year, a balding man with a grey goatee wandered into the Birstall Wellbeing Centre in Yorkshire. The volunteers there, who had never seen this slim figure before, answered his questions about the therapy, holistic massage and Reiki healing services they offer.
“He was enquiring about relaxation classes and meditation classes,” Rebecca Walker, a volunteer at the project, told ITV. “He’d tried it in the past and found it beneficial. He said he passed the centre every day and always wondered what it was about, and had only just had the courage to come in. He just seemed a really lonely guy who wanted someone to talk to.”
Walker listened intently and invited the man to a group therapy session. After all, the service is all-inclusive; anyone and everyone is welcome. “He didn’t want a group session, he wanted a one-on-one,” she says. “We arranged for him to come back Thursday lunchtime. A lot of people who come in here are soul-searching for some answers. They are grieving, depressed; they have illnesses.”
The slim man with the goatee didn’t return to the Wellbeing Centre. Instead, the next day, he loitered around local MP Jo Cox’s constituency meeting. Carrying a Tesco carrier bag and wearing a baseball cap, he allegedly shouted “Britain first” before repeatedly and savagely stabbing and shooting the mother of two resulting in her untimely death at the age of 41.
The man who committed this callous and cowardly atrocity was Thomas Mair, a 52-year-old loner. He was arrested at the scene of the attack shortly before his victim was pronounced dead by a doctor who was working with the paramedics that attended.
In police interviews and in court, Mair never explained the vicious actions that led him to be prosecuted as a terrorist. When asked to confirm his name by the judge presiding over the case at the Old Bailey, he responded: “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” It took the jury only 90 minutes to convict Mair of murder, he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of early release.
Mair was a white supremacist. No doubt about it. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights watchdog that tracks hate crime, published records showing that he was a “longtime supporter of the National Alliance” (NA) – a far-right group once known as the USA’s premier neo-Nazi organisation.
He reportedly spent over $620 on literature published by the NA, which included guides to weapons and making bombs. When his home was searched, the police found a litany of supremacist literature. They also found a Third Reich golden eagle featuring a swastika and Nazi badges. When his internet history was examined, officers found that he had been reading neo-Nazi and KKK magazines.
Here was a lonely man who was suffering from identity issues and mental health problems. But none of these things turned him into a killer – 1 in 3 people in the UK suffer from some kind of mental health issue each year; it’s extremely common and will not in itself make people violent.
The Mairs of this world are as much terrorists as the religious fanatics who blow themselves up at public events. So, how did he become so dangerous? Well, there’s one thing that is in no doubt a huge contributing factor: A gluttonous and hateful diet of far-right ideology.
The content helped to create the killer. We need to cut radicalisation off at the source, and this means reporting hateful and racist content or speech to the police. These people do not deserve to be a part of our society; they deserve to have their ideas ignored and to be grassed up. It’s time to try and stop this happening again; it’s time to get tough on hateful content. Only together can we tame this ugly and evil beast.
“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” RIP Jo Cox 1974~2016