Editor's note

In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks in New Zealand in which 50 people were killed, we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions. An important one, writes counter-terrorism expert Greg Barton, is how our political environment has allowed such hateful extremism to be promulgated so openly.

And, writes Michelle Grattan, the attacks raise renewed issues around the limits of freedom of speech. Because while the commitment to “free speech” is admirable in itself, it can become unacceptable when it morphs into a cover for hate speech or speech that stirs dangerous divisions.

Meanwhile Stephen Croucher, whose research at Massey University focuses on the cultural adaptation of immigrant communities, explores how members of the dominant group perceive minorities, and how fear can lead to prejudice and hatred, enabled by social media.

Amanda Dunn

Section Editor: Politics + Society

Top story

A cacophony of hateful rhetoric has made it hard for those tasked with spotting the emergence of violent extremism to separate it from the background noise. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Christchurch attacks are a stark warning of toxic political environment that allows hate to flourish

Greg Barton, Deakin University

There is deep sadness in the Christchurch attacks, but little shock. We need to address the permissive political environment that allows such hateful extremism to be promulgated so openly.

“Standing against hate” requires robust leadership from the politicians. AAP

View from The Hill: A truly inclusive society requires political restraint

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Senate doesn't have the power to throw him out, but it would be a bad course anyway, setting an unfortunate precedent as well as making him a martyr in the eyes of the extreme right.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has travelled to Christchurch after yesterday’s terror attacks. NZ Prime Minister's office

The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

Stephen Croucher, Massey University

Research shows that many members of dominant groups perceive minorities and immigrant groups as a threat, which builds up to fear and hate. We can all do something to change that.

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