Thoughts on Christchurch


Terror attacks are now sadly so ubiquitous, there is usually little left to say which wasn’t said last time, or which won’t be recycled the next. Indeed, many politicians appear to be doing little more than a cut and paste job these days, with the affected grief a trifle harder to muster each occasion the cameras demand it.

Perhaps the only thing which can be gleaned from the latest terror attack is precisely how the land lies around it. In this regard, Christchurch is a new wrinkle on an old wound – finally a deviation from the staid script to which we have become accustomed; a script which is suddenly unsuitable. Had it been the usual victims, Christians murdered in Nigeria for instance, we’d have known what to do: ignore it, or, if in the mood, unsheathe our hashtags.

But Christchurch is different. It’s the wrong kind of terrorism; the wrong victims; the wrong narrative. It is clear that the playbook of tealight-bedecked vigils and handwringing bromides is not going to cut it, and it’s not only ISIS who didn’t get the memo. We will not be hearing that Brenton Tarrant was a promising footballer, had mental health problems, or felt socially-excluded. Nor will we have anyone concerned about the impending anti-white backlash, or out campaigning against whitemaleophobia.

The motive was not unclear; questions did not need to be asked. The will to understand was suddenly absent. #Notallwhitemen was not trending, nor were police visiting the white community to ensure they were not unduly afraid. There were no denials of terrorism from news agencies, nor any lack of personal information. Within an hour, we had the shooter’s name, age, and shoe size, signed, sealed and delivered.

Islamic spokesmen such as Waleed Aly no longer appear to feel like terrorism is a ‘perpetual irritant…that kills relatively few people’, while Sadiq Khan’s trademark ‘part and parcel’ aphorism must be in the wash. It seems unlikely that Ariana Grande or Oasis will be getting encore requests for Don’t look back in anger. Something has changed.

As usual, the commentariat have not disappointed. Their lust to blame the attack on anyone to the right of Corbyn has been nothing short of despicable. Sky News went for ‘NZ terror suspect ‘must have been influenced by British far right’’, while The Independent consoled itself with ‘Western education has a lot to answer for when it comes to the Christchurch attack’.

The list of individuals meanwhile, personally responsible for the shooting, ranges from Donald Trump and Candace Owens, to Chelsea Clinton and Ben Shapiro, according to your taste. Anyone daring to voice an unfavourable opinion on Islam is now equally complicit; equally culpable. I have not seen Tommy Robinson or Brexit as yet implicated, but presumably someone is working on that.

The West is now so woefully-enfeebled, that we can no longer distinguish between critique and incitement. If you cannot openly dissect ideas, particularly bad ones, for fear that someone will commit murder, then there are no words left to be said. Of course, there are those for whom this is Christmas come early, for there are all too many on the left who wish to further restrict the parameters of free speech. And for those who wish to exercise language control, nothing, not even the small matter of decency would get in the way of a cast-iron opportunity to profit like a mass murder.

Christchurch is only days old, but has already had impressive consequences. New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern donned her best hijab, and announced that the country’s gun laws are about to change. Sadiq Khan, the only man less likely to find a spare copper in London than David Lammy, has suddenly located sufficient Old Bill to guard the UK mosques. And right-wing pundits are already having their shows discretely unplugged, or at the very least are more reluctant to grasp their quills.

Attacks like Christchurch are now inevitable.