Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
The horrors that unfolded last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, landed live in my lap. As the attacker executed innocent men, women and children, he gave us a ringside seat by live-streaming his corrupt and cowardly act. It took a second or two for me to realise what was unfolding before my eyes. I disconnected, then deleted the link.
The man and his sick ideology cannot face enough condemnation. At its core, this was an attack on humankind and the decency that underpins civilised society. Anyone wishing to contribute to the victim's families may do so here.
Brave police officers responded with swiftness to capture the culprit before he could do further harm. That they didn’t ‘deal’ with him on the spot speaks to their professionalism and higher calling. Although, part of me wished that he’d given them the excuse to clean the gene pool of his corrupted mind. I’m not proud of that thought.
The mosque attacks played on the TV news-loop with some channels overstepping the mark. That they used his live-feed, albeit edited, was borderline voyeurism. In effect, they gave him the oxygen of publicity he sought.
The prompt intervention by armed police affirms the approach Hong Kong is adopting. Armed teams of police officers ready on-the-ground and trained to take on the ‘active shooter’. These attackers, driven by their distorted ideology of whatever flavour, will keep killing until brought down or captured. The Mumbai attacks and many other instances are examples. It’s also clear that even with the best intelligence, the self-starter terrorist may slip through the net. Plus, let’s not forget these wicked atrocities are possible with knives or other weapons. Thus, shutting off access to guns is a partial solution at best, although welcome.
Part of the driver behind the media coverage of the attack is the fact that we’ve long considered New Zealand a safe-haven. The land of long clouds, rustic scenes, at the other end of the planet. That such horrors can visit New Zealand is a stark warning to us all that nowhere is safe, which leads me to my next point.
On 27 January this year, two bombs exploded in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Philippines. At least 20 people died, with 111 wounded, many with serious injuries. Abu Sayyaf militants are responsible. This attack hardly warranted a mention in most of the media. Likewise, in Nigeria, in recent weeks, 120 Christians were slaughtered by Fulani Muslim terrorists. Strange that I didn't see an outpouring of condemnation for these attacks.
I don’t wish to get into a number game of who killed more — that’s a blind alley — yet, the unbalanced coverage feeds a distorted narrative. That, in turn, provides ammunition for those who wish to exploit these attacks for their personal and political agendas. And that game has started.
Elements of the radical far-left have seized the opportunity to capitalise on the Christchurch attack for their purposes. They’re seeking to use the blood-shed as leverage to close access to the Internet for those they contest. On their hit list are Sam Harris, the renowned neuroscientist and Jordan Peterson, the clinical psychologist. The radical left can’t deal with their fact-based positions, so it’s best to de-platform them.
These dogmatic attitudes and intolerance to debate feed the agenda that the New Zealand attacker thrived on. For me, the issue is not religion per sei. It's any system of thought that insists one group of people are inviolably correct, whereas the other side is in the wrong. This positioning then justifies punishment. In short, the Christchurch attacker and those exploiting his work to close down their opponents are riding in the same cart.
This process, funded and coordinated, smears anyone who made adverse remarks against Islam. That includes moderate Muslims. The tactics adopted are simple, brutal and disingenuous. Find old disparaging comment on twitter or elsewhere, then conflate it by association with the attacker to give the appearance of support. Stoke the flames with a bit of fearful rhetoric, then unleash the wrath. Facebook and others will soon respond by de-platforming, in the modern equivalent of book burning.
Where does this lead? Well, it results in deranged students confronting a pregnant Chelsea Clinton to blame her for complicity in the massacre. That’s the poisoned process at work. Fanning the flames, creating more division by nurturing hate and mistrust.
Omer Aziz has done the same in his piece in the New York Times. He implies that Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson brought about the New Zealand attack. This assertion is a monstrous falsehood — but typical of how certain people exploit the situation. Yes, both Harris and Peterson are critical of Islam, as they are of other religions and dogmas. That’s allowed in rational, free-thinking, societies.
Meanwhile, looking on are many who feel marginalised. White males in depressed post-industrial towns failed by an education system that portrays them as responsible for all the world's woes. Made to feel guilty for empire building, racism and the slave trade brought about generations ago. They’re sneered at by metropolatan liberal types for daring to offer an opinion or stand their ground.
Then you have black teenagers in London. Left behind by failing family structures, in low-paid jobs and forced to arm themselves with knives for protection. Likewise, refugee kids from Pakistan and Afghanistan held in the grip of mad clerics. Told the only way is to wage war on the community that’s taken them in.
When an outrage like New Zealand occurs, all reasonable people are appalled. That up whelming of anger also applies to those who harness these incidents to their political agenda to denigrate others. All terrorism is abhorrent. Responses need balance, fairness and know no colour, race or religion. For that to happen, the ideologues need to back off and allow human dignity to shine through.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.