The world was shocked to learn of the brutal murder of 50 Muslim worshippers two weeks ago in New Zealand. It was less surprising, but no less revolting, to find that the shooter was yet another product of the darkest pits of the internet—a rootless 8chan loser on a self-proclaimed mission to drive all non-whites out of what he regards as European-descended countries such as New Zealand. People sighed at discovering yet another Daily Stormer degenerate who thinks white people are being intentionally replaced by shadowy grandmasters but can’t look at his own childless, failed existence and notice the part he himself is playing in the decline of the West.

The conclusions and violent actions of individuals like accused New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant must not be dismissed as crazy or random. As Murtaza Hussain wrote insightfully at The Intercept, Tarrant’s perceptions and actions are the outgrowth of years of rhetoric that’s portrayed immigrants as “invaders” and the paranoiac tendency to point to numerically small minority communities with high birthrates as somehow to blame for declining European and white birthrates. Popular right-wing online figures such as Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux have done this routinely. It is, of course, a stupid theory, but its very illogical and reactionary nature somehow makes it even more convincing to lost young men with axes to grind. Tarrant’s manifesto could have been lifted straight from Infowars, except that it contains a slightly stronger hate of capitalism and doesn’t focus on Satanism.

The Australian Tarrant traveled the world, but lived on the internet, an increasingly common and frankly dangerous phenomenon. He believed in the “Great Replacement” theory first posited by French writer Renaud Camus and since taken up in fervent fashion by white nationalists and the alt-right, as well as more mainstream proponents in the White House and Congress. The sick irony is that Tarrant typified the kind of dissolute, weak lifestyle he claimed to oppose.

Indeed, he is a prime example of the kind of rootlessness, moral relativism, victimization, cowardice, and weakness that is dragging the West down. He advocated “accelerationism,” essentially wishing to make things worse so a fascist system could arise from the ruins, similar to the rhetoric espoused by groups like Atomwaffen Division. The reality, of course, is that widespread disorder in the West would only lead to the corporatist, liberal establishment Tarrant so hates gaining more power by pledging to restore the peace.

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His manifesto praises another deranged coward, Anders Breivik, who ruthlessly murdered the teenage sons and daughters of Norway’s liberal establishment on an island in the summer of 2011. Breivik was supposedly trying to trigger a backlash against the do-gooder types in charge of Norway and its refugee and immigration policies. He failed utterly to provoke such a backlash and inspired revulsion among the majority of people. Still, like Serbian war criminals and Nazis, he has his admirers: losers and online obsessives such as Tarrant. They’ve somehow reached a place so sunken that they think murdering European teenagers is a bold stand against the erosion of white Europe. In his manifesto, Tarrant claims that his attack will reverberate in the future, “creating the atmosphere of fear and change that is required” to bring about the removal of non-whites. Specifically, Tarrant claimed he wanted to avenge the murder of Ebba Akerlund who was killed in a terrorist attack in Sweden in 2017. So he murdered innocent Muslim children in New Zealand? It is as imbecilic as it is sick.

Tarrant already has his own de facto apologists, such as the ignoble, egg-headed Australian senator Fraser Anning. There’s also the incels of some festering online haunts like Kiwi Farms, whose founder Joshua Moon is refusing to disclose posts made about Tarrant around the time of the attack to authorities, calling New Zealand an “irrelevant” nation and a “shithole country.” Moon had previously been let go as an administrator of 8chan over allegations of spreading pedophilic content and has been linked to a number of school shooting hoaxes.

Like the Pittsburgh synagogue killer Robert Bowers, Tarrant descended into the bowels of the internet and came out even more deranged than he went in—and ready to kill. Rather than seeing the powerful example of solidarity, community building, and unity that the Muslim ummah has for Westerners—particularly those in non-Muslim majority nations—Tarrant saw only ethnic enemies. Rather than seeing the faces of honorable men, women, and children from all walks of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques, he saw only demons. Rather than hearing beloved grandfather and former Afghan refugee Mohemmed Daoud Nabi greet him with “hello brother” at the door, he heard only his own internal soundtrack of deadening hate.

Muslims have faced intense persecution for centuries, and continue to around the world, from Syria to Kashmir. Despite their numbers, the faith continues to be undermined and attacked by authoritarians and tyrannical fanatics from Egypt to China. Tarrant himself admired the authoritarian China, a full-blown surveillance state teeming with the “corporatism” he claims to despise, because it is a “non-diversified country” (it is also placing millions of its Muslim minority Uighurs in concentration camps). Tarrant also claimed to be an “eco fascist,” despite his love for China, where the environment is regularly despoiled to meet state production targets. It’s as ideologically incoherent as it is morally repulsive—the outgrowth of an online education gone wrong.

To have Muslims feel increasingly unsafe in Western countries is tragic indeed and should be intensely countered by goodwill and neighborly affection. Islam itself brought together various warring clans and nations under submission to God, and many of those killed in the New Zealand attack came from across the Muslim world. As the Quran says, “Remember the favor of Allah upon you, when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and he saved you from it” (3:103). Tarrant wanted to drive apart what Islam had brought together, but he failed.

As the comedian Jeremy McLellan has noted, background investigations into Tarrant showing he was bullied and fell into a vicious spiral online are cheap journalism. When was the last time a Muslim terrorist was labeled an “angelic boy”? The truth is that many of us were bullied but never grew up to murder rooms full of innocent people, or even consider doing so. How off-track do you have to be to think that killing worshippers at prayer will turn the public more against them than against you? Only an idiot who spends his life online could believe such a thing. Tarrant’s 87-page manifesto says that white Westerners who convert to Islam are race traitors—but it is Tarrant who is the traitor.

The New Zealand shooter is a coward and a failure, like others of his ilk. His obsession with the “Great Replacement” theory is self-referential. People like him are replacing themselves—with pure nihilism and bitter futures. They can blame the Jews, globalists, or vague shadowy conspiracies, but at the end of the day it’s their fault for wallowing in victimhood. The figure hunched over his computer watching violent porn and ironic memes about mass murder is not a harmless joke. The anger of the lost boys should not be taken lightly by pundits or security analysts, since it demonstrates a lack of success and powerless rage that can manifest itself in unpredictably insane ways. Such lost boys need a very firm line in the sand and very hard boundaries. They were never taught respect or basic manliness. To prevent future attacks, we need to rebuild a society with purpose and instill men with positive masculine virtues that lead them to protect men and women—not kill them.

Nobody will mourn when Tarrant dies. But all of us mourn for the innocent people killed by his weak hand, ask that they be accepted by God as martyrs, and vow to oppose savages like him until the very last. The true victims are those who have had to face the absolute worst of humanity. Let all of us now try to show its best.

Paul Brian is a freelance journalist. He has reported for BBC, Reuters, and Foreign Policy, and contributed to The Week, The Federalist, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian or visit his website www.paulrbrian.com.