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The U.S. Should Pay Attention To New Zealand’s Treatment Of White Supremacy

In the United States, white supremacy has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency and saw a huge surge since the beginning of Donald Trump’s term in office. It’s not hard to see why, either. When the country’s first black president was inaugurated, anger was incited in white supremacists. They started to make this anger known, and when infamous white supremacist Donald Trump took office, their anger was justified. These white supremacists felt like their anger and feelings from the past eight years was finally excused and right, because of the man who took charge of the U.S. and his unapologetic white supremacist behavior.

It seems that, since Donald Trump’s inauguration, white supremacy has been more forward. Before, it was behind the scenes, in a way. There were instances of white supremacy inciting violence. Attacks on black communities, Jewish communities and Muslim communities existed but weren’t as commonly seen in the mainstream media. Then, Trump was inaugurated, and white supremacy seemed to be accepted across the country. Attacks on black, Jewish, and Muslim communities became more covered by the media, but the nature of the attacks was either covered up or ignored. Instead of blatantly calling the perpetrators “white supremacists,” they called them “alt-right” or “white nationalists,” which puts a more appealing spin on their motives and takes away from the seriousness of white supremacy-driven hate crimes.

After the tragic terrorist attack that left 50 people dead in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other New Zealand lawmakers showed their sympathy and sorrow through their actions. In the week since the shootings, Ardern and other lawmakers have taken more action to face white supremacy and gun violence, as well as mourn with those affected by the shooting, than President Trump and U.S. lawmakers ever have in the wake of mass shootings and terrorist attacks.

In response to the shootings, Ardern responded in an empathetic and solemn yet defiant manner. She has shown compassion toward the victims, victims’ families and survivors of the shootings. She has visited schools that some of the victims attended, offered financial assistance to victims’ families, and mourned respectfully with victims and survivors in a hijab.

At the same time that she was mourning with and consoling those affected by the shootings, Ardern also remained defiant against the white supremacy that surrounded the shooting. In a speech she gave after the shooting, she said she would do everything she could to make sure the perpetrator would not get what he wanted: a platform for his white supremacy. She also said she would never speak his name, so as to deny him of that platform.

In addition to denying the white supremacist perpetrator of the platform he craved, Ardern also told Time that white supremacy needs to be addressed by all world leaders. Domestically, she says, all leaders need to take responsibility for confronting this issue.

“This is not just an issue for New Zealand,” she told Time.

Ardern is certainly right, and more world leaders need to take note of her message. More specifically, those who enable white supremacy in their countries, and, subsequently around the world, like Donald Trump. People like Trump, who refuse to condemn white supremacy and confront it as a problem enable people like the Christchurch gunman. That is unacceptable, and we need more world leaders like Jacinda Ardern to be defiant in their fight against white supremacy.

Photo: Flickr/Appaloosa

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