By Chris Graham
March 17, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - If you want to know why an Australian man massacred 49 Muslims in a church in New Zealand yesterday afternoon, then you need to understand a little bit about our nation’s dark past and in particular the quality of our present leadership. Chris Graham explains.
Getting your head around an unspeakable tragedy like that which occurred in Christchurch yesterday is no easy thing. It’s hard to fathom the level of hate that underpins such a heinous act.
Ordinarily when an event like this occurs, there’s a rush from political leaders to offer condolences. But there’s also a clamour to avoid political discussion. When terrible things like this happen, ‘now is not the time for debate. Now is the time for grieving’.
In Australia, on this occasion, that clamour hasn’t occurred. I think that’s in part because the victims are Muslim and most Australians don’t – and won’t – identify with their grieving. There’s no ‘profile pic filter’ in support of the Muslims of Christchurch flooding Facebook today.I think it’s also in part because Muslim leaders themselves – young and old – are already leading the calls for a national discussion, although it’s not like they haven’t been doing that for a long time. Journalist Osman Faruqi probably put it best.
I feel so sad. We begged you to stop amplifying and normalising hatred and racism. But you told us we were 'politically correct' and 'freedom of speech' was more important.— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) March 15, 2019
The more you gave the far-right a platform, the more powerful they got. We begged you.
There are several distinctly separate conversations that must go on, across two countries, and there’s a deep, twisted irony in at least one of them.
If New Zealand leaders respond the way Australian leaders have in the past, then there will be a debate centred around immigration. They might come to the conclusion that no Muslim has ever come to their shores and massacred 49 people. But an Australian has, and by Australian logic, New Zealanders should be calling for an immigration ban… on Australians.
The other discussion – the more pressing one – is on our own shores. What Muslim leaders – and many of the rest of us – want to discuss is how we got to this point, and how we get back from here. That will require an honest assessment of this nation’s history – not just our treatment of Muslims, but of people of colour generally – and in particular it requires a frank discussion about the people who have led us here, and still lead us today. It’s only then can we even start to understand what created a man like Brendon Tarrant.
This analysis piece is an attempt to contribute to that process.
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