by Michael Lloyd
Today, the 15th of May 2019, marks exactly two months since an australian-born white-supremacist walked into a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and opened fire on a group of peaceful worshippers, killing 50 and injuring many more.
Among those killed, was 3 year old Mujaad Ibrahim, taken to daily prayers by his brother.
I bring attention to this particular victim so that it can be kept front of mind as I talk about the events that have occured since that day. Ignoring everything else, it should not be forgotten that children, born in this country and knowing of no other life, were targeted as a result of a political ideology that saw them as invaders.
Nothing I say beyond this point is intended to be any excuse for the actions of Brenton Tarrant, the shooter. I believe that this man represents the closest thing to evil that humanity is capable of, and he deserves all the condemnation we as a people are capable of providing.
Unfortunately, the purpose of my writing today is not just to condemn the shooter. I must also condemn our New Zealand government.
It pains me that any effort must be directed here, but I feel there is a gaping hole in the discourse that we must address, and that is how the New Zealand government has capitulated to the shooter, fulfilled his plans, and begun us down a path toward genuine fascism.
Knowledge is Power
I write this from my nation’s capital, Wellington, New Zealand.
As I research the finer details of that fateful day, I am taking the utmost care. It is currently illegal for me to read that manifesto, or to watch the video of the event.
I have already done both of these things (the latter, only as far as I could stomach), but the clampdown moved quickly in the aftermath and a number of people have already been arrested for sharing that content, or making remarks relating to it.
Calling this a red flag is an understatement, but the scope of this problem has become even more nefarious in the last few days, as our Prime Minister (once seen in a Hijab, taking part in a Muslim call to prayer), has stated she would not “rule out” blocking facebook.
Let that sink in for a moment. A western government, currently restricting freedom of the press and freedom of speech, is now talking about the possibility that they might take complete control of the internet, deciding what things people may or may not see.
This might sound like i’m overstating the issue, so let me be clear:
The government currently cannot, and does not, actively monitor or control any access to the internet.
This government, which has recently shown contempt for the concept of freedom of speech or the nature of free information, that believes it is better positioned that any individual to decide what is appropriate for them to see, is now actively considering taking control of access to the internet, or specific domains therein.
This is a crisis of a magnitude I cannot begin to describe.
Not just because the government is threatening a totalitarian takeover of digital information, and not even because censorship and the suppression of speech are actively occurring; but because the thing the government is trying so hard to suppress is their own complicity with, and capitulation to, the shooter.
You see, those who have read the manifesto knew that the shooter used guns in the hope that governments would force through gun legislation that would cause confiscations and increasing societal tension. Which they have.
He knew that by targeting muslims, that the collective guilt of self-hating westerners would force them into religious apologism, creating even more push-back.
He was right.
He even knew that by naming popular online personalities, or aligning himself with various ideologies, he would pit more and more people against each other in the great culture war. Again, we have given him exactly what he wanted.
And in light of all of this, we are expected to take seriously the idea that western governments and the the mainstream media outlets who act as their 24/7 propagandists are the best people to control our access to the truth?
We are to believe that these authoritarian busy-bodies, who are taking away our freedoms one piece at a time, just happen to be hiding the truth of their own failures only because it is in our best interest?
There is no such thing as Hate Speech
I want to bring your mind back to the 3 year old boy who was killed in that attack. I want you to think about how devout a muslim you believe that 3 year old would have been.
I hope this highlights an uncomfortable truth. That he was in that mosque on that day because of arbitrary religious beliefs. These words might be considered hate speech by those government censors, but that religion that brought him there on that day is barbaric, backwards, and oppressive.
I say this because the people in that mosque did not deserve to die. They were people, with families who loved them, and were victims of a heinous crime for which we as a society are at least partly responsible. They deserve the freedom to express their religion, just as I deserve the freedom to criticize it.
It cannot, and should never be taboo for me to condemn the religion that brought those people together, just as I condemn the ideology of the person who took their lives, and the government suppressing the facts that lead to it.
I condemn all violence. Whether in the name of religion or political ideology, I stand against it.
White-supremacy and Islam are both blood-soaked ideologies.
I say that not to disrespect the victims, but to illustrate that genuine criticism of ideologies not only exists, but is necessary. If you disagree with my interpretation of one of these ideologies, and not the other, you should think about what it means to suppress disagreement on the topic you believe should be off the table.
You might think my criticism of Islam constitutes hatespeech, but which ideology might the next government decide cannot be criticized?
The government’s attempt to shut down speech and discussion, it’s move to control information and prevent those actions it believes to be nefarious, directly result in people who feel they’ve nothing left to lose, deciding instead to resort to violence.
This government facilitates violence each time it limits discussion, and still we are asked to trust their judgement. To listen to their truth without seeking the truth.
My words today are the words those censors would seek to stamp out. This is exactly why this power cannot be trusted to them. My criticism of a religion is not condemnation of a people, but this is an inconvenient detail.
They are not attempting to create peace and harmony, they are attempting to create an environment in which their truth is reality, and where we are unable to learn otherwise.
A government that controls the flow of information and people’s access to it is not itself fascism, but it is a necessary first step.
We are on a dark path. I hope our government realizes the impacts of its decisions before it’s too late.