My deepest condolences to all my Muslim readers: if there are any words of comfort possible I offer them to you.
Another day, another terror attack. This time in New Zealand, one of the most peaceful, serene nations in the world. The last major gun violence there was a massacre committed by a mentally disturbed man…in 1992. The country’s prime minister is a woman the world adores. Unlike Australia it welcomes migrants and refugees and does so unashamedly.
In fact, my suspicion is that New Zealand was chosen as the target precisely for this reason. It is a shining light among western democracies. It is open, humane and tolerant. If you were seeking to mount a white supremacist revolution, what better place to strike than in such a heartland of diversity?
The ring leader of the conspiracy appears to be an Australian who came to New Zealand at least in part to orchestrate this attack. One might argue that it is precisely the rhetoric of Australian Islamophobes and xenophobes leading the national government, who put thousands of refugees in concentration camps, which produced this massacre.
Christchurch shows that no nation is immune. That there is murderous hate everywhere, even in the most tranquil environs. Unlike the U.S., where our president “addressed” a similar attack against a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh with silence, New Zealand’s premier, Jacinda Ardern spoke strongly and decisively about the killings. She affirmed that Muslims and refugees in general are welcome in her country. That they are “home” there. And that the killers are not. They were words sorely lacking after the Pittsburgh Tree of Life pogrom.
Make no mistake: while national leaders don’t necessarily create mass murderers or terrorists, their response to them plays a critical role in their perception within society. If a prime minister makes clear that her country will root out killers, bring them to justice, and ensure these acts will never happen again, that speaks volumes to those tempted to fall prey to these aberrant views. When another leader sits in his bathrobe enjoying hamburgers when he hears similar news; when the suffering community tells him he’s not wanted in its midst; when his views themselves are implicated in inspiring the violence; all this fosters an atmosphere promoting even more, and even worse violence.
That’s why the recent case of the Coast Guard officer who amassed a huge killing arsenal along with a list of targets of Democrats he wanted to eliminate in order to bring the world to an end, is so frightening. You can’t stop every one of these lunatics. One of them, one time will go undetected and unleash his hate upon the world. When that happens the victims may be Jews, they may be Muslims, they may be African-Americans. But one thing you can be sure of: our president will do or say practically nothing because he himself is implicated. He knows in his heart of hearts that the views of the killers are ones he approves (though he might not agree with wielding an arsenal and unleashing it on the offending parties).
UPDATE (following paragraph): When I first published this post, the PM had not used the word “terror” to describe the attack. Since then, she has used the word explicitly.
Another disturbing aspect of this massacre is that neither New Zealand’s prime minister nor its police have used the word “terrorism.” Why, when an Islamist attacks is it immediately branded “terror;” but when a neo-Nazi murders it’s simply called “an attack?” Is it because “we,” the privileged, accord ourselves the right to be terror victims? But we deny that right to “them,” the other, who is somehow less–the outsider?
The Talmud warns that if forced to choose between taking someone else’s life and being killed yourself, no Jew may choose to kill another:
…A person who approached Rabba with the following question:
“The ruler of my village came to me and said ‘kill that person, and if you do not then I will kill you.’ Can I follow his order so that I will be able to save myself?”
“Allow yourself to be killed, but you may not kill another. Who says that your blood is redder than his? Perhaps his blood is redder than yours.”
How have “we” become different or better than Muslims? Our religions may be different. Our languages may be different. Our skin color may be different. But the same blood flows through our veins. Ours is no redder than theirs. Why do we deserve to be terror victims, while they are simply victims? This is not a speculative or theoretical question. It very much goes to the heart of the matter. If we cannot conceive of Muslims as victims of terror, then we are setting the stage for more massacres in the future. Until we treat each of us the same, and accord each of us profound respect as human beings regardless of religion or race, these abhorrent tragedies will continue.
The killers, whether neo-Nazis or ISIS, want to divide us into good and bad. They want to rid the world of the bad. The only message to offer in rejoinder is that there is no division between us. Such tolerance, especially if it takes root deeply in society, will eventually suck the oxygen out of the nether world of white supremacist and Islamist hate.
It’s worth noting that the greatest perpetrators of terror attacks on Muslims, are other Muslims.
Richard Silverstein says
@Baird: that’s only worth noting if you are an Islamophobe. Further worth noting that your statistic is false when you’re speaking of attacks on Muslims outside the Muslim world. Attacks like yesterday’s, in the west, are invariably carried out by white Islamophobes, just like the ones for whom you’re now making excuses.
Baird, do you have a source for that statement?
I don’t know why you doubt me. I should be pretty obvious just from following the news.
Yoni Levy says
It might be statistically true for Africa and the Middle East but in the west, it is usually nazis or other haters who do the violence.
Colin Wright says
You seem to have had a go at blaming Donald Trump for the attack in New Zealand. I suppose one has to admire the consistency.
@Baird. Can you just allow you inner hate against Muslims to rest, just for a day or so?
Feel free to pick it up and promote more Islamophobia tomorrow…
Sadly, this will not be the last attack on Muslims just as there is no “last attack” on Jews and Blacks in the US or a “last attack” on Hindus and Shia in other places.
The trouble is that far too many “groups” (classes of people) believe it is okay to spout hate against another as a mark of Righteousness. What such hate-mongers do not realize is that when the Dogs of War are unleashed, they are just as likely to slash “our side” as they are, to slash the “Other”.
No, there is no group (“side”) that does not promote hate and fear with violence as the “proper” answer. Right now, it is patriotic and righteous to attack Islam and Muslims but all that is being achieved is the freedom to hate and to commit violence.
You attack me without any justification, and than you inveigh against haters.
Richard Silverstein says
@Baird: Oh he has plenty of justification. His fellow Muslims were just slaughtered in.their dozens amidst sacred prayer, and all you can maunder about is how violent Muslims are. That’s unfeeling and brutish.
Thank you for the quote from the Talmud. The only thing Israelis seem to know (or care) about the Talmud, is that it urges you to kill other people as soon as you suspect they may be plotting to kill you. Seriously; you never hear anything else quoted from the Talmud by Israelis. It is as if it was written by the Likud party.
It is rather absurd Baird try to turn this mass murder in New Zealand into arguing that Muslims kill more Muslims. Using statistics and such Israeli number “tactics” one could say that proportionally seen Israeli Jews kill more Muslims than any other religion members (besides Islam) do. Dividing 1.5 billion with 5 million results to 300. So when Israelis kill yearly over 150 Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank it would be >45,000 compared proportionally to the world’s Muslim population and even more compared to Christian population. Multiply that 45,000 with 50 years and you get a proportional result. 2,3 million hmmmmm…
I didn’t,”maunder about is how violent Muslims are”.
I pointed out the obvious fact that Muslims are more likely to commit acts of terrorism against Muslims than are ‘white nationalists’, which fact was not apparent from a reading of your article.
It is equally obvious that ‘white nationalist’ terrorists and Muslim terrorists hate their enemies with equal passion.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Baird: Your claim is based on a half-truth. More Muslims are murdered by white nationalists everywhere but in the Muslim world itself. By the way, more white people are killed by white people too than by brown, black or any other color people. What the hell does that prove? That white people are murderous thugs and that their religion is evil?
Oh and you might want to digest this bit of actual research showing a marked increase on Muslims in western countries: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/summary-attacks-muslims-western-countries-190316150024125.html
I hope you choke on it.
Your maunderings not only don’t interest me, I find them offensive. Please prepare for landing at Ben Gurion. Your flight is about to touch down. Your next comment violation is your end here.
It is equally obvious that settler terrorists hate Arabs and Muslims with passion equal to (and perhaps greater than) that of white nationalists and Islamists. You’re not very good at this game, are you? I’ve played it with hasbarists far more skilled than you.
Deir Yassin says
The Australian ethno-nationalist who committed the mass-murder in New Zealand was directly inspired by France in two ways: he travelled here and was apparently convinced that there’s some kind of White genocide going on though ‘race mixing’ and immigration, and then he wrote directly in his 73-pages manifeste that the defeat of Marine Le Pen in the 2017 French elections was the final drop, he realized that the “solution” was not through democratic elections. He was inspired by a French ‘intellectual’, Renaud Camus, who’s famous for his the[ry of “le grand remplacement” |the big replacement], of course White French being ‘exchanged’ by ‘colored’ immigrants’ ….. The Washington Post has an article on that, and the French press is also commenting on this …… just as Breivik in Norway (who’s Dad lives in France) France seems to has become the multi-cultural society that neo-nazis can’t stand all while French right-winged intellectuals seem to give the theoretical basis for their hate.