New Zealand Proves Change Needs to Happen


New Zealand Proves Change Needs to Happen

After the atrocious attack on a New Zealand mosque on March 15th, the world was appalled at the sheer viciousness of the attack. Thousands mourned for the people killed in the attack and thousands more flocked to the usually peaceful nation to help those wounded. As the gunman was apprehended, the New Zealand police learned of the multitudes of guns the shooter held, and promised to alter the somewhat lax gun laws accordingly. However, lax gun laws are not the sole reason for this attack. The real concern lies within the lack of investigation and policies against white supremacist groups, of which the shooter belonged to.

The attack started when the gunman, currently unidentified, arrived to Noor Mosque, pulled out multiple guns, and started sporadically shooting, live streaming the attack on Facebook while doing so. He then entered the mosque during prayers and started opening fire on the vulnerable victims. Next, he drove to Linwood Mosque and opened fire as well, planting explosives as he went along.

Brenton Tarrant has been arrested for the onslaught, along with two unidentified suspects. In a online search, police found an 87-page manifesto in Tarrant’s 8chan account, an online forum known for spreading extremist messages. The attacker also live streamed a long video during the attack, bringing into question the lack of action social media platforms take in terms of taking down radical videos and messages. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern voiced her concerns, saying “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published.”

New Zealand internet providers have requested an urgent meeting between the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google to discuss how to remove harmful content off of their sites. However, while the meetings are important and should be acted upon, they do not consider the source of this hate. Online censorship of radical ideals will help to prevent attacks like these from taking place, especially in this digital era, however they do not stop the problem. While quicker action against videos such as these should be prioritized, it is hard to monitor millions of users and take a rapid enough action to prevent the post from being spread.

The main focus should go towards the rise in attacks and anti-Muslim rhetoric across the world. Post Sept. 11, there has been a plethora of hate crimes against American Muslims, and Islamophobia has almost become commonplace in our society. President Trump doesn’t help to disprove those concerns, with the calling of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” during his candidacy. While President Trump may not be a white nationalist, downplaying the supremacist motives behind attacks such as the Charlottesville massacre plays into the hands of the racialists.

President Trump, in a statement regarding the tragedy and the concerns of rising white supremacy, said that, “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.” Although evidence is suggesting that white supremacy is on the rise, President Trump and the Republican party fail to understand the serious threat that comes with it, which makes attacks like the one in New Zealand so unchallenging.

However, this is not a problem solely in the U.S., as white supremacy has been rising around the world. “Anti-black” parties are spreading across Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy. The government of Hungary is extremely anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic, possibly explaining the recent visits Tarrant took to the country, along with other extremist European countries. Tarrant’s 87-page manifesto is also based on far right French author, Renaud Camus, who also claimed Muslims were colonizing Europe for their benefit.

The same focus governments have been using on Muslim extremists should also be used on white supremacists as well. While we cannot change every possible cause to this massacre at the moment, a process needs to be established so that a tragedy like this will never occur again. Using the same observation methods regarding ISIS, such as monitoring keywords and putting people under observation after radical ideas are seen, should be used in other radical groups as well, alongside an increased awareness of these groups. If we fail to do so, more people will needlessly lose sisters, friends, and sons in more devastating attacks. This ambush was a wake up call to everyone and a wake up call to the true amount of malevolence in the world. And as the first victims are buried, the only thing we can do is hope that nothing like this will ever happen again.