The Chirstchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand are considered the deadliest attacks against Muslims in the country. According to The New York Times, it was carried out by a male White supremacist who killed 49 people, including children. Horrifying.
That’s not all. The killer also posted a 17-minute Facebook livestream while he terrorized the Al Noor Mosque, and created a propaganda manifesto filled with memes to explain his xenophobic ideologies. True enough, netizens have been arguing non-stop about the contents of the manifesto, placing the blame on people for “influencing” this attack. What many of them don’t realize is they’re giving the killer what he wants: notoriety.
Extremism author J.M. Berker told Vox, “It clearly signals that this is a white supremacist attack. It’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigration. These are overlapping categories this person is pushing out. We’re meant to understand that this attack was done for that purpose, and not simply out of mental illness or as a random act of violence. As such, we have to be careful about how we contextualize it. What we don’t want to do is let this guy’s talking points play out in the 24/7 news cycle.” He also noted how Google Trends results on the manifesto surged because of Internet searches.
In light of this, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a conference she refuses to name the killer, emphasizing that she will not give him the notoriety he sought for. She also urged the citizens of New Zealand to do the same. “He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless,” she said.
I’ve always heard this sentiment whenever YouTuber Philip DeFranco would report on shootings. His reasons for not naming gunmen is the same with PM Ardern—he doesn’t even show their faces because he feels they don’t deserve the air time.
It’s a fair assessment. Just look at how well-known serial killer Ted Bundy has become in the past few months after Netflix premiered The Ted Bundy Tapes. Most of the time, his fame doesn’t just revolve around the murders he did, people would even lust after him because of his looks.
Another killer whose name has been out there for years now is the Versace killer, Andrew Cunanan. Although American Crime Story dramatized a lot of things, but it was clear that he somehow wanted to be seen—from the way he would lie about his status to the fact he hid in plain sight from the police.
These two are just some of the popular killers of the past decades, and it’s wrong to regard them as anything but deadly. We don’t want to make that same mistake, especially with a terrorist attack like Christchurch. We’re also not saying we didn’t name a gunman in the past, so we’re willing to learn from PM Ardern’s example as well.
Speaking of not repeating mistakes, Ardern also announced earlier today that they’re banning assault rifles and other military weapons in New Zealand. Many considered this act a power move in the mid of countries still fighting over whether they implement gun control or not. But really, this is the only appropriate move to make sure “this never happens again.”
We applaud PM Ardern for her strength and for using her position to protect her countrymen. We hope other leaders and people across the globe follow her example too.