In which, no, I am not a New Zealander

In which, no, I am not a New Zealander March 15, 2019

Remember when, back after the Charlie Hebdo attack, everyone changed their profile pictures and said, “je suis Charlie”?  Well, except that it turned out that at least some portion of that everyone later started saying things like, “well, maybe the magazine shouldn’t have been saying such mean things about Islam.”  And later on we ended up with debates over whether the French (and subsequently the Belgians) brought it all on themselves by not properly integrating Muslims into their societies and economies.

This was, of course, followed by attacks in Belgium and London and San Bernardino and Orlando, plus attacks elsewhere in poorer countries that are culturally more distant from us.    And now, with the Tree of Life Synagogue attack in October and today’s attack on a mosque in New Zealand, we may or may not have something that perpetrators think is a counter-attack.

It’s horrendous.

I went to bed last night after the first reports appeared online (readers: don’t spend so much time on social media) and woke up with a headache, which, admittedly, probably isn’t related, and just contributes to my lousy mood.  And the news got worse in the morning, when total deaths appeared.

But then someone shared a tweet by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as reported by Fox News, tying this shooting to those in Charleston, Pittsburgh and Sutherland Springs — the first two of which were white supremacist-connected but the latter not (and not tied to any -ist/-ism motivation).

Happily, this is the only such tweet I’ve seen.

How much do you really know about New Zealand?  (Don’t answer if you’re actually from that part of the world.)

Do you know how ethnically diverse the country is?  Do you know whether the country has historically been so or has seen recent increasing levels of immigration?  Has the country been seeking out high-skill immigrants, or are they low-skilled?  Do you know how successfully those immigrants have been integrated into the mainstream of New Zealand life?  Do you know, conversely, how the young white men of the country are faring?  Do you know whether any of the disputes we have in the U.S. exist there?  Do you know what the country’s laws on gun ownership are?  How the country is doing economically?  Whether opioids are a problem?  Racial conflict or discrimination?

Yeah, I don’t know either.

I know that Australia has seen lots and lots of nonwhite immigration, but that they are also very determined to control it, to the point of moving asylum-seekers offshore.  About New Zealand I know squat.  (OK, I know that they have a mandatory retirement savings program called KiwiSaver, and at some point they made the news due to complaints that housecats were killing off native bird species, or something like that.  I also read not too long ago that the Maori comprise about 15% of their population and that in recent years lots of effort has been expended on integrating them economically while preserving their culture; whether that connects up to any attitudes about immigration, I can’t say.)

But that also means that I don’t know whether their issues are the same as ours, and that means that I think that, as Americans, we shouldn’t spout off with claims that we know what is wrong and how to fix it.

Maybe the lack of such claims in my twitter feed is a good sign that this isn’t happening.  But I’m fearful that this isn’t, or won’t be the case for long.

 

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACrimeScene.jpg; By Supaflyrobby (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons  This is just a generic image of a crime scene, not something coming out of the news reports.

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