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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Why should we feel ashamed?

4 April 2019

Since it seems that talking about the Christchurch mosque shootings is verboten on just about every social media platform or in the comments section of our news websites I figured there's only one place left for me (and you) to have your say. Right here!

Firstly, yes, it was an horrific act and a human tragedy. This was the very worst of mankind's hatred and violence put on display for all to see in a manner that will continue to haunt us for many years to come. As one commentator put it "this is New Zealand's 9/11".

However, what is almost as disturbing to me, as a white person of European extraction, is the "survivor guilt" that has been thrust upon me from all directions.

And I suspect I'm not the only one feeling more than slightly peeved by this.

What am I talking about? Read on, and see if you don't perhaps share at least some of my perspective on this.

It started when the PM began wearing a head-scarf (hijab), seemingly as a mark of respect for those of the Muslim faith.

Okay, that was her choice -- but she should always remember that whilst she may have the right to do whatever she sees fit as an individual, when she's acting as the leader of a nation, she needs to be a little more considered in her actions.

We all know that you can't please all the people all the time -- but Jacinda's wearing of the Hijab was always going to be a divisive action and it did create anger within at least one section of our community.

I have to admit that I thought this action on the part of the PM was bordering on being patronising, unless of course she had converted to Islam. The Prime Minister, at times like this, should be (first and foremost) representing the average NZer -- not pretending to be something she's not.

Then there was the relentless media reports that seemed designed to make *me* share the guilt for this crime. After all, I *was* a licensed firearms owner, I am white and I'm not a Muslim. In fact, according to the news, I am just like the shooter in so many ways that certainly I must feel some of his guilt.

Well I'm sorry for not being Muslim.

I'm sorry that I haven't been targeted by a right-wing nut-case.

I'm sorry that my wife doesn't wear a hajib.

Shall I just go and slit my wrists now?

Okay... I've slightly overstated things, for effect -- but you get the message.

For a week or two after this attack, I really did feel that I was one of the only people in New Zealand who wasn't an honorary Muslim or who wasn't a temporary convert to Islam.

I'm sorry but although I will fight bravely to support *everyone's* right to embrace whatever faith or beliefs they want (yes, even the flat-earthers have a right to believe what they want), I will not be made to feel guilty simply because I'm not prepared to become a weekend Mohummad just to fit-in or comply with the sympathy de jour.

Religion is something that I don't believe in -- but I do respect the rights of others to worship the deity or deities of their choice because -- that *is* their choice. However, I'm not going to be bullied, by public opinion or an implied sense of guilt -- into pretending to be something I'm not (did you hear that Jacinda?).

After living in this country for many decades, I'm proud to call myself a Kiwi and identify as such. I'm not going to allow some nutcase gunman, a media-with-motive and a patronising Prime Minister to turn me into a would-be convert to Islam just because they seem to have lost their own sense of identity.

It is very, very possible to express one's sympathy and sadness for the victims of the Christchurch shooting without losing one's own sense of identity -- although you'd hardly recognise that fact in recent times.

Forcing a sense of collective guilt on people who have not been party to a crime is, in and of itself, a crime.

Rant over. I open the floor to readers -- be they outraged, incensed or in agreeance...

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