Saturday 16 March 2019

15/3 = 9/11

I really believe that's not an exaggeration. Yesterday was New Zealand's 9/11 - the same scale (somebody has calculated that 49 out of a population of 4.5 million equates to almost 3,000 in a population the size of the US), the same sudden shock, the same feeling of violation from outside, the same loss of a sense of security - and innocence.

Today we woke up to the realisation that our physical isolation is no longer a protection; that the world is so closely linked now that ideas and connections are just a couple of clicks away. And that the confidence and support that social media now give to idiots who can only hold one idea in their heads, can lead to events that affect everybody else, forever after.

The white supremacist bigot who killed 49 people in two Christchurch mosques yesterday (he was the only shooter) has appeared in court, accused of murder. Our news media pixelated him by order, but I don't want to see his smug, stupid face anyway. He will, in due course, have the entire book thrown at him and, I hope, be deported back to Australia so we taxpayers don't have to fund him.

The families and friends of the victims are anxious and frustrated because many of the bodies are still lying in the mosques, unidentified - and unidentifiable, easily, because Muslims put aside their phones and wallets etc when they are praying - and already well outside the traditional 24 hours from death to burial. The media have been full of stories about close escapes, rescues and deaths; bravery, sorrow and horror. Sites all around the country are filling with flowers, drawings and messages of comfort and solidarity. There have been vigils. 

The shock is fading. Now it's all about sympathy for those who are grieving, anger at the perpetrator, and deep depression that we have now joined the rest of the world in losing a big part of what we love about our country: its safety. When we travel overseas, we're always aware in the big cities of what's happened there before, and could happen again - and it's always a relief to get home. Right now it's hard to feel that we'll ever get back to that in quite the same way.

We're also starting to question things: about the racists and white supremacists in our country, the gaps in surveillance, our gun laws. One heartening thing is that our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been getting everything right so far, being human and one of us, and responsible and determined that this will not happen again, and saddened that the people who died, many of whom had fled their own countries to come here, should have been safe, and weren't. I did enjoy her response to Trump:  "He asked what offer of support the United States could provide. My message was: 'Sympathy and love for all Muslim communities'."

Already, semi-automatic rifles are to be banned. I'm hopeful that more measures will follow swiftly to make something like this much harder to happen again. But mainly, I just feel depressed.


the queen said...

I love that you can ban the weapons. Constitutionally the US can’t do that (stupid second amendment), but we can make them cost $20,000 each and take years to be licensed. Why on earth we haven’t done that with semi-automatics I don’t know.
Can they take photos of the deceased, bury them, and then have them identified?
I haven’t heard your 9/11 per capita comparison on the news yet, but I’ve shared it with a few people.
I love your PM. Excellent Trump burn.

TravelSkite said...

The dead have all now been returned to their families. I don't know why it took so long, but has to have something to do with the chaos inside the mosques and the difficulty of identification. They found a 50th victim while they were clearing the bodies.

Our gun laws are lax and will be tightened. It's been appalling to learn that the gun shops have been doing big business since the attacks and talk of making regulations stricter. I recall the same thing happened in the US, with bump stocks? Sigh.


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