Christchurch brings out best and worst

Jeremy Sammut

22 March 2019 | Ideas@TheCentre

The response to the Christchurch atrocity has brought out the best and worst qualities of our public life.

The bi-partisan condemnation of terrorism of all kinds has affirmed Australia’s commitment to basic liberal democratic principles.

The support that has been displayed across the community for the Muslim victims of terror has also affirmed the nation’s commitment to tolerance towards people of all faiths and ethnicities within Australian society.

Unfortunately, there has also been no shortage of indecent efforts to politicise the tragedy.

On the right, Senator Fraser Anning in his putrid pursuit of re-election has obscenely blamed the dead on justifying banning Muslim immigration.

On the left, there has also been a concerted attempt led by the Greens and GetUp! to shift the blame by asserting – with no real evidence – that the terrorist attack was inspired by the so-called ‘hate speech’ spoken on immigration-related subjects by Coalition politicians.

All reasonable people oppose speech that genuinely incites racial hatred, and support laws that make incitement to racially-motivated and all other forms of violence illegal.
But it is a monstrous absurdity to blame the cesspit of internet white supremacist fanaticism on the legitimate statements that mainstream politicians have made about immigration and claim they have “blood on their hands”.

Such politicking not only needlessly and falsely divides us in the face of terrorism, but it also trivialises the real motivations of those who believe killing innocent people is politically justified and offers no sound guide to how the authorities should respond to such evil thoughts, words, and deeds.

It also brings into question a nation’s capacity to operate as a democracy in which citizens are communally trusted to share mutual political rights and freedoms.

As the conservative activist John Ruddick has rightly argued, the idea that the mainstream right wilfully encouraged the tragedy in Christchurch represents an “unprecedented level of spiteful partisanship [that] rips at the fabric of the great liberal tradition and national unity that has characterised the West for two centuries.”

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