New Zealand has a long history of white supremacism — and the US had a major hand in it
In the wake of a horrific massacre at a New Zealand mosque that left 49 Muslims dead at the hands of a self-professed white supremacist, the New Republic did a deep dive into white nationalism in the country and revealed a link to the United States.
According to Purdue historian David Atkinson, the government of New Zealand embraced overtures from the United States under President Theodore Roosevelt.
“In 1908, some white New Zealanders and Australians sensed an opportunity to connect with white supremacist allies in the United States,” Davidson wrote. “President Theodore Roosevelt had recently dispatched the newly constructed American battle fleet on a circumnavigation of the globe, and from August to September 1908, that so-called “Great White Fleet” visited Auckland in New Zealand and Sydney, Melbourne, and Albany in Australia.”
According to the historian, white lawmakers seized on the visit at a time when there was a furor over the “deteriorating U.S. relations with Japan over the issue of immigration restriction.”
According to Davidson, “Liberal MP William Steward spoke for many when he declared that ‘the brown and yellow races will challenge the white race for the possession and occupancy of [the earth]’ unless white colonists rallied around American naval strength in the Pacific.”
“The New Zealand Times agreed,” he explained, “pronouncing the fleet’s visit a ‘bold, emphatic assertion of the dominance of the White Race.’ Some white Australians expressed similar hopes, with Prime Minister Andrew Fisher later enunciating a plan to ‘to join with [the Americans] as far as we may in keeping the Pacific for the Anglo-Saxons.’”
Summing up the ongoing relations ship that has lasted over 100 years, the historian explained the ongoing dynamic.
“White Australians and New Zealanders have long wrestled with the implications of white supremacy. Moreover, that history has always been inextricably intertwined, and it has often been connected to broader currents of white supremacist politics across the Pacific in North America,” he wrote.
“In that context, it is not so strange that a white Australian terrorist might choose to make his stand in New Zealand, citing American extremists as inspiration,” he concluded. “How all three societies—as well as other majority-white societies across Europe—respond to this outrage will determine whether this history of trans-Tasman white supremacism can finally be brought to an end.”
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