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NZ Attack: Something to Do Besides Hand Wringing

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Flowers laid at the Kilbirnie Mosque, one of the sites of the attacks in New Zealand (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Flowers laid at the Kilbirnie Mosque, in Wellington, New Zealand following the Christchurch mosque attack. (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

After the horror of the Christchurch mosque attacks we ask what can we do besides hand wringing.

Mornings are hectic for most of us. We tend to be rushing around getting ready for work, school and just the start of our day. To wake up to news that is so horrific, it makes it difficult to register just the sheer intensity of what happened. Being in such a morning fog can easily make it feel like it is the remnants of a bad dream in which we must still be trapped.

The shooting at the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, is not only a shock because of the horrific violence of it all but also because it happened (until now) in such a peaceful part of the world.

Our mind reels: How could one man orchestrate, pick up arms and coldly kill so many people without a sense of remorse?

In reading through the manifesto written by the young killer, it is easy to see and almost feel the amount of resentment he most likely felt.

He describes the pain, anger and frustration he experienced on his travels to Europe, noting an Islamist terror attack in Sweden that left Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl, killed in 2017. It was a traumatic event that impacted him to his core.

In France, he witnessed many immigrants who had settled comfortably in the various towns and cities. He saw them as invaders.

The killer’s intention was to start to spark something bigger, a full racial war around the world, demonstrating that it wasn’t just a perverse sense of vengeance that he was seeking.

It would almost make it easier to accept his horrific actions if we knew there was a mental illness behind them.  None of us wants to believe that our own species can carry this type of act out without an explanation that helps distance it all from the person we look at in the mirror.

Yet, the emotions of fear and resentment can take their toll on a person and quickly build to an intensity of anger that only the person it consumes can begin to understand.

These emotions never make acts of violence acceptable, but they can be used to help us learn how to build educational programs to reach out and break down the extreme ideologies around us that are slowly destroying humanity.

In the last decades, the media has been attuned to Islamist extremists, yet has anyone done the real research to see just how severe and seriousness white supremacist movements are?

President Donald Trump was accused of not taking these groups seriously enough in the aftermath of the white supremacists rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Today, we saw a statement from Australian politician Fraser Anning, an independent senator from Queensland, who wrote:

“I am utterly opposed to any form of violence in our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman…[yet] The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place. Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators…Just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.”

Young people look up to their elected leaders. This type of narrative can cause great confusion within their cognitive abilities to discern the difference between right and wrong and accept differences between peoples.

Instead of governments and organizations standing in front of a crowd or the press to condemn (or excuse) these terrorist attacks, we need to start working from the root of the problem with the aim of building healthier communities. There is something we can do besides hand wringing:

Click here to see what you can do to prevent violent extremism

Get involved in our campaign: www.ClarionProject.org/PVE

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Christianne Boudreau

Christianne Boudreau is a contributor to Clarion Project.