The road ahead and our path on it

By Andrea Leong, Science Party Leader

I was at the School Strike for Climate when I heard the devastating news from Christchurch. It was a clash of the best and worst of humanity. We heard more throughout the day, with the death toll finally reported at 49. Dozens of lives lost to violence fuelled by white supremacist ideology.

We saw New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, dignified on the world stage as usual. We saw Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, dignified for perhaps the first time I've seen, after years of enabling xenophobia and distrust of Muslims.

Then eggboy happened. Eggboy was hailed as a hero. He's not a hero, nor is he a villain. His moment released a pressure valve for a tense nation. I laughed, but I would prefer if it hadn't happened. Consider which Australians are most likely to be put off from entering public life by permissive attitudes towards physical hectoring of politicians.

The Senator's response to being egged was unacceptable. His first blow seems like a fair reaction to an unknown threat. The rest is retaliation. The thugs who held the egger went far beyond what was necessary to restrain him.

Everything in that room was disturbing, including the presence of cameras from major news outlets. We've known since the Senator's first speech what he's willing to say for attention, so he should be given none.

In April, the Senate will vote to censure the Senator in question. Five months ago, the same Senate voted on a motion stating, "It is okay to be white." The motion was defeated 28–31.

As the aftermath unfolds, Eggboy is lauded while Muslim writers, academics, individuals sharing their perspective are shushed. Told to publish elsewhere for now (the article mentioned in the previous link can be found here). Brushed off as angry brown people.

We'll embrace larrikinism to prove we're doing okay, but baulk at confronting the reasons behind the massacre. What if we learn that we have to change something to prevent it from happening again? And what if the thing we need to change is ourselves?

At this time, let's remember the people lost to an act of terror and elevate the voices of researchers and the Muslim community telling us what we need to hear.


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