|Mutual Appreciation Society : Donald Trump and Scott Brown.|
The United States Ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown, has expressed his dismay at the Christchurch terrorist attack, adding that we must send 'a very powerful message that hate is not accepted here or anywhere else in the world." But Scott Brown is also a loyal supporter of the deeply racist Donald Trump, a man with a long history of anti-Muslim bigotry.
IN THE AFTERMATH of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, there have been messages of sympathy and solidarity from all around the world. I, personally, appreciated the message of solidarity from UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. I was also chuffed to see my football team, Newcastle United, tweet its sympathy and support for Christchurch and New Zealand, noting how the club had been warmly embraced by the country when it toured here in 2014.
Some sympathy and support though we could probably well have done without - that of President Donald Trump, for instance. His racism and anti-Muslim rhetoric has done much to encourage the poisonous political environment in which white nationalism has bred. Indeed the Christchurch shooter wrote that he was partly 'inspired' by Charleston killer Dylan Roof. That was the time when Trump said that there were 'good people' among the white nationalists. Today he has said that he does not believe that white nationalism is a rising threat.
|Newstalk ZB's Chris Lynch.|
In New Zealand, one of Trump's loyal lieutenants, U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown, told the media he and his wife were 'heartbroken' by the terrorist attack.
"We're praying for everybody, obviously. This is a time when good people stick together and send a very powerful message that hate is not accepted here or anywhere else in the world." he said.
We can only treat his comment with the derision it deserves since Brown has never expressed his opposition to the hate-filled rhetoric of his boss. In fact he has often expressed his admiration for Trump.
'I know him, I like him, I trust him," he said on his very first day as US Ambassador. "He can take a joke and crack a joke. I like that about him. And I've always appreciated his very direct approach to me. Now I don't know what it's like with other people….but I'm pretty direct. I think that's one of the reasons he likes me and trusts me because I just tell him how it is.'
Its easy for us to condemn the extreme violence of white nationalism but, as a country, have we allowed anti-Muslim views to creep into everyday political conversation? Why is Scott Brown not called out for his rank hypocrisy when he says that we must fight hate here and all around the world while he, at the same time, continues to defend the number one hate-monger Donald Trump?
Unable to sleep last night I was listening to talkback on Newstalk ZB. A handful of the calls I heard were disturbing. One such call came from someone called Dave (I think). While he expressed his dismay at the terrorist attack, he then proceeded to describe Islam as a violent and misogynist religion that wasn't part of 'us'. Similar views were expressed by some other callers.
It wasn't so long ago, in 2017, when local Christchurch Newstalk ZB talkback host Chris Lynch was expressing his displeasure that a leisure facility in Auckland was closing its swimming pool for two hours every Thursday night in order that there could be Muslim women-only swimming lessons. In what amounted to a Islamophobic rant, Lynch tubthumped that there was a "religious odour entering public pools at the expense of non-believers".
Lynch thundered: "I’m all for cultural tolerance, as long as it means other people tolerating my culture, and not the other way around."
But, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, Lynch could be heard on CNN expressing his support for the local Muslim community and admitting that he felt 'defeated' by what had happened.
I don't doubt the sincerity of Lynch's comments but as Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal has observed 'People who can only condemn racism and Islamophobia — being ‘horrified’ and ‘shocked’ — only when so much blood is spilled are part of the problem. Because the rest of the time, they are busy normalising and minimising them.'
Note : Scott Brown has told the media that he attaches 'no importance' to the accused Christchurch killer citing Donald Trump as a symbol of white identity.