This might come across as if I’m trying to exonerate myself: ‘You weren’t paying attention, but I was.’ But I’m as culpable as anyone – and especially culpable as a trade unionist, an activist, and a writer – for laughing off the local white supremacists as nothing more than a rabble.
As the federal election looms, the familiar terrain of political conflict over immigration is being prepared. Going by recent reporting, the issue of undocumented migrant labour is likely to acquire a special significance.
The Christchurch mosque attacks have conjured waves of support and solidarity and shame. These are important and heartwarming, but they are not enough. Every attack of this kind opens floodgates of racialised violence. It legitimises and emboldens.
From across the ditch, the news that the Christchurch terrorist was an Australian was accompanied by a sinking feeling. The way in which our everyday public debate is steeped in concepts of white superiority made it all too predictable that such a horrendous crime should find its origins on our shores.
Many of us immigrants have heard in the last few days that ‘this is not New Zealand.’ It’s meant to be a comforting sentiment. It’s understandable where it’s coming from. What can you possibly say about unspeakable horror, without needing to disavow it?