Background Briefing: March 17, 2019


Why Trump Won’t Condemn White Nationalism

We begin with the terrorist attack on worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 dead and as many wounded and has shocked the peaceful citizens of New Zealand as well as the world since the Australian killer filmed the massacre and live-streamed it on the Internet. We speak with Spencer Sunshine, a researcher and activist whose research interests include U.S. white nationalism, post-war fascism and European New Right politics as well as left wing anti-Semitism. He joins us to discuss the killer’s manifesto in which he mentioned his support for President Trump, writing “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear God no.” We will also discuss Trump’s response to the massacre in which he refused to condemn white nationalism and tried to dismiss it as a small fringe issue which prompted the Washington Post to write an editorial calling out the president for his consistent failure of moral leadership. And since there is a pattern of Trump not condemning neo-Nazi’s and white nationalists, we will try to assess why he refuses to say these are bad people.


The Convergence of Attacks on Muslims, Social Media and Targeting Houses of Worship

Then we look further into the phenomenon of what could be called white internationalism and speak with Peter Bergen, a professor of practice at Arizona State University and a fellow at Fordham University’s Center on National Security and a CNN national security analyst. We discuss his article at CNN “Three terrorism trends converge in sickening New Zealand attacks” and explore the three emerging trends of attacks against Muslim targets, the use of social media as a platform for terrorists, and the violent targeting of houses of worship.


Students Around the World Protest Inaction on Global Warming

Then finally we look into the international protests last Friday where school children around the globe walked out of their classrooms to protest inaction on climate change. We speak with, Monica Medina, the founder and publisher of Our Daily Planet, an environmental e-mail newsletter. She is the former senior director of ocean policy at the National Geographic Society. Previously, she served as special assistant to the secretary of defense and before that was principal deputy undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where she led efforts on Arctic conservation and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.