Christchurch is my old hometown; long before the earthquakes that shattered the city, long before multiculturalism thankfully arrived , and long long before Mr Tarrant decided it was his mission to save the ‘white” world from those “others” by murdering 50 people in two mosques in March 2019. Certainly there has always been racism in little old New Zealand- but in my experience a greater tolerance of diversity than in many countries. Our current Prime Minister Jacinda Adern is thankfully a symbol of that tolerance and compassion.
Mr Tarrant is however not a symbol of white supremacy ( he is , as the headline of this post suggests , in reality pink skinned; not ‘white’; a fact which rather detracts from the white power rhetoric) but he is rather; a symbol of grief, fear and loss. Like so many angry men across the world, he found a rationale for the expression of that anger and violence. In Mr Tarrant’s case, it was ‘white’ supremacism; but for others it might be Salafist murderous jihadi fundamentalism, or Hindu or Buddhist ‘righteous’ anger. In fact anything to avoid the real grief and loss gnawing at their psyche . In Mr Tarrant’s case it was , almost indisputably the suicide of his father in 2010 when he was 18 , and more explicitly his discovery of the body after his father shot himself after he was diagnosed with cancer as a result of asbestos exposure. In the case of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who killed 77 Muslim children in an attack – it was perhaps the separation of his parents at an early age and the subsequent split from his father at 15.
What might we be able to say about Osama bin Laden and his childhood, or even Genghis Khan?
Please note , none of this rationale in any way condones or excuses the violence of such individuals, but it can give a rationale for their actions, and hence an opportunity to remove and reduce such risks in others .
And it is important also to note that by far the greatest violence by such angry men is not committed by their own hand, but via the hands of others. Those men ( and some women) who manipulate others into carrying out their acts of violence against those ‘others”. In recent times those mass murderers have been politicians and military men and specifically those in the Western ‘democratic’ nations. One can only speculate on the childhoods of sociopaths like John Bolton, the US advisor who advocates the killing of so many Arab people, but more importantly the Iranian people, in the supposed belief that this will protect the apartheid state of Israel, or U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who apparently sincerely believes that war against Iran will hasten the Second Coming and the Rapture . Or we could list a few women like Gina Haspell CIA director who is clearly able to internally rationalise her brutish actions in torturing people in a systematic manner, or note the psychopathic glee of Hilary Clinton when she learns of Muammar Qaddafi’s brutal death.
Such people use their concoctions of beliefs to rationalise their brutal and violent actions…when in fact they are simply frightened little people who need our compassion – and to be taken away from any capacity to control other’s lives.