On Friday afternoon, I got a text from my Mum. “Dozens dead in Christchurch. Mass shooting in a Mosque”. A few minutes later my Twitter feed started to fill up with initial reports, and the death toll began its horrifying count. Dozens were dead, then upwards of 30, then the death toll settled at 49. Another person unaccounted for has been found dead since then, bringing the current total up to 50.
It’s been a tough few days for everyone. The scale of this tragedy is really starting to sink in as the stories of individual victims are beginning to be told.
After watching the compassionate way that Jacinda Ardern handled a situation no leader ever wants to be responsible for during their time in office, our attention eventually turned back to our own leaders. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but disappointingly we didn’t find quite the same dignity there. I’m not talking about Fraser Anning – who copped an egg to the head for his efforts – but our Prime Minister.
Scott Morrison posted all the right things on Twitter in response to the shooting, promising to protect and defend the Muslim community, and insisting that he always speaks out against hate directed at Islam.
Unfortunately for him, a 2011 article has resurfaced from his time as Opposition Immigration Spokesperson, detailing the way he urged his co-workers to jump on the anti-Muslim bandwagon for political gain. Those comments came out in the same week that Morrison made headlines for questioning the costs of the funerals for the refugees who had died in a boat crash.
Fraser Anning isn’t the only one with egg on his face.
We don’t have to think back too far to find other examples of this festering anti-Muslim rhetoric. Tony Abbott telling ASIO to “Stop tip-toeing around Islam”, Jacqui Lambie’s push to ban the burqa, Pauline Hanson’s annual melt down over Halal Easter eggs. Actually, just Pauline Hanson’s entire platform.
And where has the normalisation of this rhetoric gotten us? An Australian citizen taking the lives of 50 innocent people. That’s where.
I live in New South Wales, where the state election is less than a week away. This election has been fought mostly on festivals, stadium demolition, and electricity prices. And you know what? I just don’t care like I did this time last week.
We won’t have any more festivals under the Coalition? Okay, but the shooter was from New South Wales, what are we doing to tackle the racism that made him this way? Power prices will be higher under Labor? Great, how we we going to stop the radicalisation of any more people from this state?
This applies tenfold to the Federal Government. Their turn to face the ballots is only a few weeks away, and the pressure is on. Right now, the party that can tell me how they’re going to face the attitudes that got us here is the party that will likely have my vote. Cancelling Milo Yiannopoulos’s visa is a start, but absolutely not enough. We need to look inside ourselves as a country. One of our own did this.
Oh, and if I hear one utterance of African gangs or how immigrants are the reason we have traffic jams, I might flip.
I’ll confess I don’t actually know exactly what it is that should be done, but isn’t that why we have leaders? What I do know is that we need to fix what we’ve broken, and make good on our endless promises of being the most successful multicultural nation of the planet.