An Australian came here and committed an act of terrorism.
I am angry, and I am devastated.
It was my privilege to work with a number of Muslim students at my school as a Dean from 2014 until 2017. A privilege to take my Understanding Religion classes to the mosque in Kilbirnie for the last six year. A mosque where they have always welcomed us, and taught us, and shared food with us. One of my most precious periods as a teacher was working with those Muslim students who I was fortunate to be the Dean of. To argue with them, to laugh with them, to learn from them, and to listen to them. In the end that is what I did. I shut my mouth and I just listened to them. I gained so much.
I am devastated because one person, one lone person, has killed 49 people because of their Muslim faith and I know people of that faith and I love them. I hold them in high regard. Please understand that I am talking about specific people. I can see their faces as I write this. I am not talking generally. I am terribly sorry that they are hurting. I want to do something, but what has happened cannot be undone.
I am angry. I will tell you why. Of course I am angry at the man who did this, but anyone who has read this stupid blog knows that I don’t think only in specifics: that I see connections.
I am angry at white men who are ALWAYS doing this. I am ashamed to be a white man. To be the same race and the same gender as this man who did this thing, and calls himself ordinary.
I am angry – furiously angry – at social media platforms who allow hatred to be posted, and promulgated, and shared. Fuck Zuckerberg and whoever is responsible for the awful toxic bullshit of Twitter. And I am angry for every single person – who is not a white man – who has been driven off those sites by graphic, extremist hate speech and direct threats. All this “global community” shit rings truly hollow.
I am angry at people as they share video of people being murdered, and this man’s manifesto. If you are sharing, if you are tempted to have a look: shame on you. I understand the question “why wasn’t he on a watch list?” but I would like to know this: if he posted on these sites and people saw it why did none of those people say anything. I am looking at you: every single one of you who stood up for “free speech” for Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern in Auckland. Don Brash and Stephen Franks and all you white men. All those people who went to see Jordan Petersen. All those people who like to think they are engaging in critical thought when they read Sam Harris on Islam. You are the bystanders to bigotry. You are the foundation on which the extremists build.
These people who peddle hate by sleight of hand; as if Islam is special in its flaws. As if Christianity has nothing to answer for. As if Crusades, and Inquisitions and Massacres and Genocides and World Wars and Holocausts and Nuclear Bombs and generations of rape and sexual assault did not happen with Christ’s blessing (depending on who was speaking for Christ at the time). Is Islam perfect? Is Christianity?
The tired drivel that the news presenters say. The day New Zealand lost its innocence? Please. Don’t we save that cliche for Gallipoli? It’s not us? Well, it is a little bit. Let’s be honest. Plenty of people in New Zealand don’t like Muslims. I know because Muslims have told me. About the abuse. On the street. On buses. Saying it’s not us is a bit like that old lazy racist trick of saying “I don’t see colour”. Are you blind? I see colour and its consequences everywhere. And now we see faith and its consequences.
To you who think that it is appropriate to tweet your condolences. It is not appropriate. Your feelings, if they are real, must be longer than a tweet.
To you – the white you – who talk about how scared you were. It’s not about you. I know you were scared. I feel it here. So far away. But it’s not about you. It’s about 49 dead. And all their families. And all Muslims in New Zealand.
To news agencies around the world who are publishing the videos of people being killed, people dead, people in shock and grief. What is your angle? What is your moral culpability in the actions now? Who wins?
The Muslims I know and love, are not to be hated. They are wonderful. I know they will carry on. They have come through so much, some have seen hard times in their home countries, some have been through refugee camps, they have come here and seen their parents struggle, they have pushed and made it through school, and are on to university, and jobs and training. They know about sexism, and racism, and Islamophobia. They put me in my place. You can’t beat them.
But you can hurt them. And you hurt them. And I hate you for it.
I won’t even say that you won’t win. You might. But you won’t win me. Never.
Love is right and hate is wrong.