Forty-nine people are currently dead in one of the most heinous hate crimes in recent years. In Christchurch, New Zealand, worshippers at two mosques were gunned down in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said, according to The Associated Press.
What wasn’t clear was who exactly the shooter was. In a manifesto, he described himself as a 28-year-old far-right racist from Australia.
Three other people were arrested; Prime Minister Ardern said “these are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
Let us, then, make one thing clear, one thing that is going to be brought up incessantly in the next few days: These individuals are not conservatives. They’re not even on the fringe of conservatism, nor were they inspired by those who are.
There are few recent assaults on human life as sick and twisted as this. These were innocent people, in the midst of prayers, gunned down by a sick man whose aims can’t be divined with absolute surety at the moment but who seemed to believe that murder would achieve them. That’s terrorism, plain and simple. The primary difference between this man and the bombers of Pan Am 103 or the attackers in Paris is that they had different twisted objectives.
They had the same disrespect for human life, however. And if there’s one thing that should unite conservatives, it’s the veneration of God-given life, something that should only be taken away in the most extreme of circumstances and when there’s a paucity of other alternatives.
To guess what the shooter’s aims were is difficult at this hour. He left behind the aforementioned manifesto in which he claimed to have been planning an attack for two years and used white supremacist language, including the infamous “Fourteen Words” (“we must ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children”). However, tech columnist Kevin Roose of The New York Times warned that the the manifesto is “thick with irony and meta-text and very easy to misinterpret if you’re not steeped in this stuff all the time (and even if you are).”
“Seriously, this entire thing is a minefield. I am Very Online and I don’t feel 100% certain about what’s genuine and what’s just trolling/posting/media-baiting,” he added.
Seriously, this entire thing is a minefield. I am Very Online and I don’t feel 100% certain about what’s genuine and what’s just trolling/posting/media-baiting. Please be careful.
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) March 15, 2019
And yet, the movement has already begun to demonize conservatives for the attack.
A huge takeaway from the manifesto – which we are not sharing, by the way – is that the shooter kept a close eye on American white nationalist groups and conservative talking heads, and he idolized them. As we’ve said, these movements aren’t harmless. https://t.co/KKMTrJJFmr
— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) March 15, 2019
How do I feel about the killing in Christchurch New Zealand?
I’m furious with those that promote hate of people they’ve deemed as different.
Conservatism, right-wing or otherwise needs to go to History’s dustbin.
“Conservative radical kills 49”
— michael halliday777 (@michaelhallida4) March 15, 2019
Below, the ideology that led to tonight’s tragedy in New Zealand.
The idea of “white genocide” is endemic on the right, even in polite conservative circles, and it’s killing people.
Nazis are Nazis.
Nazis kill people.
Even when they wear suits and use words instead of a gun. pic.twitter.com/aGihaTSagz
— AntiFash Gordon (@AntiFashGordon) March 15, 2019
Another popular theme on Twitter was to blame conservative pundit Candace Owens for the massacre because she was mentioned as an inspiration of the shooter in his alleged manifesto. Again, this is to take the manifesto at face value. As Owens wrote on Twitter, she has “never created any content espousing my views on the 2nd Amendment or Islam.”
This isn’t the point, though. This man was the personification of evil. Every sane individual believes that. To blame American conservatives for the work of a madman, at this early hour, evinces a sad and reactive state of mind.
Conservatives believe in the sanctity of life. This monster took the lives of 49 innocent people.
Conservatives believe that the faithful should have the right to worship in peace. This monster abrogated that right in the most inhuman of ways.
Conservatives believe in the rule of law. This man broke the ultimate law, the proscription against taking another human life, and he broke it 49 times. This is an amoral mass murderer who every human being with the slightest claim to virtue knows will burn in hell.
Finally, and at the risk of being accused of politicization, I’ll note that New Zealand isn’t particularly amenable to gun rights and owning a firearm for the purposes of self-defense is strictly prohibited. In a terrorist attack where an individual has this kind of time, concealed carry could have ended this. This isn’t political, however, no more than grounding 737 MAX planes after two crashes is political. It’s a way to prevent or mitigate future disasters.
Beyond that, however, let us be clear: Conservatives deplore this attack as much as anyone else. The attacker has no claim to conservatism — or any other belief system aside from nihilism. Our thoughts and prayers are with those at the Masjid Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Masjid Mosque. As for the attacker, we can only trust that hell will be torturous enough to serve as punishment for this inhuman act.
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