I will not wipe away these tears

“Christchurch mosque shootings must end NZ’s innocence about right-wing terrorism.”

Paul Spoonley, Noted, 16 March 2019

I am struggling for words at the moment. I am struggling with words.

So while I agree with Professor Spoonley’s sentiments, and especially appreciate his expertise in white nationalist terrorism, I stumble with a couple of his words.

“Must”.

Christchurch mosque shootings should end NZ’s innocence …

Christchurch mosque shootings could end NZ’s innocence …

Christchurch mosque shootings might end NZ’s innocence …

“Innocence”.

How about ‘naivety’? Or ‘complacency’? Or even ‘wilful ignorance’?

‘Innocence’ suggests that we, all of us, are not somehow bound in to this act of white nationalist terrorism in our country. We are. And I hate that, and I hate that I cannot undo it, and I hate that it is a part of who we are and where we are, and will be for ever more.

And so also with any takes about ‘this is not New Zealand’. I understand the impulse, I share the goal, but the evidence, the names and faces of 50 dead, is that yes, in fact, this is New Zealand.

And I don’t know what to do with that. Yet.

And I don’t want to rush all the answers, because I do not trust myself right now to think it all the way through. And I do not want to be pushed by this inadequate man in any direction. I refuse to be.

Here is all I think I can know at this point.

This is a moment of change. Exactly what that change could, should or will be is our choice. Not that inadequate man, whose name I will never say.

But I will be suspicious of any proposal that is simply an amplification of a pre-existing position.  Because that is not change, that is merely turning up the volume of what we were at 1.40pm on Friday 15 March.

That is not good enough. Not nearly good enough.

We have a big conversation ahead of us.  My only hot take is that it will, at its core, be a conversation about privilege, and about those who expected privilege resenting being asked to make space for others. And then blaming those others for their own flaws and inadequacies.

It will be a conversation about the fundamental question of any politics: ‘how shall we live together?’

There is no single correct answer to that question, and we can disagree on the what and the how.  But I know there is one wholly wrong answer: that we should not live together.

So I struggle with words, and the tears get in the way.

But I will not wipe away these tears.

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