Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in...

Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday. Credit: AP/Mark Baker

It takes a twisted mind to believe that families worshipping peacefully in their mosques are “invaders,” and that those who slaughter them are righteous protectors.

But there are people who believe that. Ones who actually unleash violence are rare. Much more common are those who goad them to it and cheer them for it. There are also, increasingly, political leaders who lend respectability to the idea that white Christians are the only legitimate citizens and residents of the United States and many European nations.

This way of thinking is deadly poison. Those who denounce the shocking violence while helping normalize the creed are dangerous, despicable hypocrites.

A gunman broadcasting his carnage via a helmet-camera, live on Facebook, took aim Friday at worshippers in and around two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 49 people are dead, and more are wounded.

In a manifesto posted online before the killings, the 28-year-old Australian charged with the murders said he chose his victims because they are invaders replacing the white race. He sees an overarching conflict between people of European descent and Muslims, and thinks it’s a reason to kill. And while such killings are still shocking, the ideas behind them are politically common in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

At rallies, President Donald Trump reads a poem called “The Snake” which talks about a serpent killing a woman who is kind to it, as an analogy to the danger of immigration. Iowa Rep. Steve King asks when terms like “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive. Across Europe, far-right politicians embrace traditional racial and religious identity and cast diversity as a plague.

When the killer posted his grotesque philosophy and carnage Friday, some commenters cheered. The killings were unusual. The philosophy, and the support, are mainstream.

— The editorial board

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