I wrote this shortly after the horrific murders of 51 innocent people and wounding of another 40 at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre on 15 March 2019. I didn’t publish it at the time, but I think it is still apposite.
What do you think the public reaction would have been if, instead of a white supremacist murdering 51 Muslims on 15 March 2019, a radical Islamist had murdered 51 Christians in a church?
The days after those murders were almost free of revenge talk from Muslims, apart from ISIS, deep in defeat in Syria. The government deliberately did not give much attention to the terrorist, but instead focused on the victims. Quite correctly.
But, if a Muslim had murdered 51 Christians, how safe would it have been for Muslims to be out on the streets? Would people have attacked mosques? Who would the Police have defended mosques from? Would there have been calls to step up surveillance of Muslims to detect any hints of radicalisation? Would we have had a nasty public debate about immigration?
Would there have been opinion pieces like the ones at the time about how we shouldn’t have a debate about racism that might create divisions in our society, and instead of blaming each other, be looking for positive solutions? Who would have written them? The same conservative people who wrote columns in the weeks after the massacres saying just that?
Who would have said, “We told you so?” Who would have made a distinction between this hypothetical Muslim terrorist and the rest of the Muslims in New Zealand, who would have been horrified and condemned this attack? The same people who say white supremacists don’t have anything in common with Pākehā who complain about immigration and worry about Muslims?
Still think we aren’t a racist country?