White nationalists and Islamist extremists desperately need each other

In a recent talk, Julia Ebner argues that white nationalist extremists and Islamist extremists share an abundance of similarities. What’s more, they need one another to feed their ideological aims.

The beliefs that “the West is at war with Islam” and that “Muslims are at war with the West” validate one another. But even more, each belief depends on people to hold (and act on) the opposing ideology.

Every time one side commits an act of violence, it justifies and solidifies the other side’s narrative of an irredeemable other. In this way, the far poles of extremism complement each other: they are like mutual allies in the rhetoric hate. Ebner calls it “reciprocal radicalization.” Each act of hate and terror justifies the totalizing narrative of the other, and subsequently, justifies acts of hate and terror in return.

It is a textbook case of a symbiotic relationship. And it is a vicious feedback loop. Once you are caught up in it (i.e., radicalized) you grow blind to the fact that your behaviour mirrors and replicates the enemy you so avowedly claim to despise. But furthermore, your behavior, in turn, justifies and confirms their beliefs concerning your hatred of them in the first place. Around and around it goes.

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