Saturday, March 23, 2019
It doesn't have to be this way
If nothing else, New Zealand is showing us how a nation should come together to deal with a horrible tragedy. The country is showing an incredible amount of unity with a Maori biker gang offering security for the mosques in Christchurch. Women are wearing headscarfs in solidarity, and many persons are turning in assault weapons as part of a buy back program by the government included in the assault weapons ban that was immediately imposed. This is obviously a civilized nation that seeks to protect its citizens no matter what religion, race or creed they are.
We've had countless mass shootings in America, one that even reached the same epic proportions in Las Vegas, but no state let alone federal government has come together the way New Zealand has to show its solidarity with the victims. The students of Parkland who spoke out after the horrific shooting at their school have been perpetually mocked in the conservative media and on social media. No telling how much this affected Sydney Aiello, who recently took her life. The latest victim in the ongoing battle over gun control in the United States.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, worked quickly with facebook and other social media outlets to take down footage of the horrific shooting spree, as well as purge the assailant's white nationalist manifesto. She is doing everything she can to erase his name, not mincing any words in describing his crime.
Back in the USA, Donald Trump played dodge ball with questions thrown at him, as the assailant named him among others as inspiration for his act of terror. Trump tried to downplay white nationalism much like he did after the tragic incident at Charlottesville, where a white nationalist ran over a protester during a march in the college town.
Trump celebrated violence throughout his campaign and continues to do so as president. For him it is all part of a reality show he has created, where he pits one group of people against another and sits back and watches the anger projected in the streets. He does this on the international stage as well, spending well over a year trying to bait North Korea into a war and now doing so with Venezuela. He sends ambassadors to Europe with the expressed purpose of stoking nationalist sentiments on the continent. Most recently, he stirred up more anger in the Middle East by recognizing the disputed Golan Heights as a part of Israel. Yet, the man continues to believe he is as worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize as anyone.
Beyond making a mockery of the idea of peace through strength, which has long been the foreign policy of the United States, Trump sees violence as something he can exploit for political gain. The subtle and not so subtle threats are all designed to stir up the religious conservative base of his party, which supports him no matter what others say of him, even other Republicans. One of the reasons for his unsolicited attacks on John McCain is to warn other Republicans that to defy him is to earn the wrath of the Magaheads in the primaries. This is why you don't hear a peep out of Lindsey Graham, who had been one of John McCain's most ardent admirers. This kind of posthumous condemnation is the hallmark of totalitarian leaders demanding absolute loyalty.
Trump hates democratic societies, and I'm sure recoiled at PM Ardern's suggestion that he show respect for Muslim communities. He has used Muslims as the prime target for his call for tighter immigration policies and border security. The US has severely limited the flow of Muslims into the country, not worried in the least by the family separations and the loss of business that has resulted. For him, Muslims are the bane of existence, a sentiment reflected by his party faithful.
It doesn't matter that white nationalists have carried out far more hate crimes than Muslim extremists in America, or that matter around the world. He casually dismisses these horrific crimes because he has used the same sentiments expressed by white nationalists to stir up the base of his party. Often, he plucks the same expressions from their copy-paste manifestos culled from the memes readily available on social media.
This wasn't a lone wolf attack in New Zealand. The assailant was just another soldier in the silent army of white nationalists who believe in The Great Replacement theory that a white genocide is taking place and that he has to do what he can to level the field. If he can take out 50 Muslims in one day then he has done his part to purge the world of unwanted "invaders." It doesn't matter that Muslims are a very small minority in New Zealand or Australia, where the gunman came from. The very fact that they had established a beachhead in the land down under was enough to send him over the edge.
It's a theory that's been around a long time but has been popularized in recent years by such far flung figures as Renaud Camus and Pat Buchanan, and picked up by Australian MPs like Fraser Anning, who got a rather rude rebuttal to his ludicrous claims. We hear it constantly on Fox News through the mouths of Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham and others.
White nationalists feel as if they have lost their place in the world. No longer do they have such colonial reach even in distant places like New Zealand, which has created an inclusive society regarded as one of the safest places to live in the world. The Australian gunman broke that peace, but the country has refused to descend into the same quagmire we see here in America. Rather, it has shown Muslims they are welcome and a vital part of their community. A lesson we could learn here in the United States.