I don’t want to be writing this post. I’d much rather be writing about anything else. But I have to put my thoughts down to get them out of my head, so I can move on.
On Friday afternoon two mosques in Christchurch were attacked by a white supremacist gunman. He killed 50 people and wounded many more. This was a terrorist attack on people going about their lives and living peacefully in their adopted home.
The gunman was not from here. He was a foreigner. He was also welcomed and allowed to live in his adopted home in peace. We are, by and large, a hospitable and accepting people. In this case we allowed a viper into our home and it turned on US.
And it is US that he turned on, all of US. The people in Christchurch were New Zealanders. Their faith, their ethnicity is irrelevant. They are New Zealanders and as such they deserve to be able to live here in peace and security. They were killed and maimed by a man who is not one of US – who claims he was doing it for US, to protect US. To protect US, he kills US. That is the level of his logic.
I have read parts of his manifesto. (I got bored with it after a while) I’ll probably look at it again to try and figure out more about him and how he got everything so wrong.
I’ve watched the video he live-streamed. It is very harrowing and disturbing to watch. But I wanted to see how this man operated. I wanted to understand not just what happened, but how it happened.
The images will stay with me, as will the disgust that this man came to my country and decided to commit such an act of betrayal against us.
In the end he surrendered without a fight. When faced with a firearm pointed at him, all his bravado vanished.
I am very pleased and proud of the way he was apprehended and detained. I think the police did a very good job. The emergency services also, having trained for and experienced age scale emergencies, performed admirably.
I am also proud of the way my country reacted to this crime. From the top down, from the Prime Minister to the gangs (the Mongrel Mob put out a statement) the message was clear – They are US. It was US who were attacked.
My wife lost a colleague – listed as missing, and that can only mean one thing. It just goes to show just how small this country is.
We went to lay flowers at the local mosque here in Wellington today, but we couldn’t. There were none left to be bought. Over six million dollars has been raised to help the victims already. This is how my countrymen react to being attacked. With compassion, kindness and love. And this is why we will continue to be a beautiful place to live.
One thing is certain however, things will change.
Already there is talk of tightening up gun laws. That might appease some, but it will have little effect on those who would follow this man’s path. Those who like shooting will be unhappy about it, but we are not the U.S. We are not wedded to our firearms and if they must be given up, then so be it.
As I have just said however, this will not solve the problem.
For too long there has been talk of the ‘white backlash’, of white people losing their rights, dispossession and marginalisation of those who once held all the power. Many people have been vocal, especially on social media about the need to stand up for our rights and fight back.
And for too long we have regarded these people as idiot conspiracy theorists. “Flat earthers with guns”. This is what happens when those people are ignored, ridiculed and treated as the loony fringe. Eventually someone within their ranks decides to make a statement that cannot be ignored. As this man just has.
So what can we do?
Do we hunt these people down?
Do we bring in the death penalty?
Do we arm the citizens?
Do we create a surveillance state?
Or do we do something that has a chance of working?
This man binged on a diet of conspiracy theories and nonsense. He got his information from the internet – the same place where the new media (you know, the ones you can trust, not the main-stream media) who can’t even figure out that New Zealand is not Australia. His information was skewed and there was no-one to dispute it. There was no voice of reason. No devil’s advocate. No-one asking the questions about the validity of the information he ingested and internalised and turned into truths that set him on a path that gave no chance for anyone to have their own truths.
There are more like him, out there. Some are probably not as far away as we would like. You may already know some of them, or suspect you do.
Ignoring them has been tried, and it failed. Vilifying them, hunting them down and exacting revenge for something they may not have done (yet) will solve nothing. It will only lead to more hate, more attacks.
So don’t ignore them. Don’t vilify them.
Buy them a beer and engage them in conversation. Ask them questions. Ask where their information is coming from. Show them why it is invalid. Show them how it is being twisted. Show them how they are being manipulated and used. Show them a better way.
You can’t do this on the internet. They will just ignore you. You have to step into the fray and engage them in person. Instead of railing against them, ask questions, get them to show you their ‘truth’. And when it is exposed as a lie, as smoke and mirrors, the realisation will be theirs, and so you will have a chance to prevent a repeat of Friday’s events.
Their path to enlightenment may be a long and winding one. It may take more than one beer. But at least they will be on that path and not the one that leads to innocent people being slaughtered, for a lie.
His lie that we are being invaded, being taken over by Muslims is easily disproven. About 1% of people in New Zealand are Muslims. None of them have ever committed terrorist attacks against the people of this country. There are significantly more Australians here, and one of them just has.
Who do we have more to be concerned about?
Should we all begin attacking Australians? Of course not! For a start, that would mean attacking about half of my own family. The idea is stupid. So is the idea that we should attack people because they are different from Us. And that includes the white supremacists. Attacking them won’t solve anything. You won’t change them overnight. But keep at it. Keep engaging them. Keep showing them the way. Keep being the nicest people you could ever meet.
Keep being US.
He sought with this attack to divide US. He thought it would provoke retaliation, escalation, a revolution. He was wrong. Because he is not US, so how could he know? Things will change. We will get stronger, we will get closer, we will become more united, more determined, more of everything that makes US Kiwis.
I came from this soil. My blood is in this soil. This is my land, and these are my people, and I will always stand in their defence. No matter their religion, ethnicity, orientation or origin. This is a free land, for free people.
He is not US, and he could never be, US.
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Don't forget to check out my Dad's blog
Who else can tell you stories about impersonating an officer, stealing a military aircraft to go on a booze run, or steal military aircraft and go on an unsanctioned bombing run - and that's all before he turned 18!
Check out @len.george and find out what other madness he got up to!
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