We’re hardly the first people to point out the sheer badassery of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In her first years as leader, she’s proven a stalwart and dignified presence in her country’s highest office, while remaining down to earth and seemingly immune to the chest-puffing of her international peers. But it’s in a time of crisis that she’s shown her true colours, and Ardern is leading as never before, providing us with the most powerful weapon against terrorism yet.
Addressing the parliament in Wellington on Tuesday, Ardern took a stance we rarely see in response to modern acts of terror. She point-blank refused to name the man who murdered 50 Muslims at prayer in Christchurch last week.
“He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”
Bigotry & racist fans of @realDonaldTrump & @ScottMorrisonMP you may want to watch a True Leader in action. Jacinta Ardern @jacindaardern the 🌎 needs you, keep on Leading, inspiring & giving hope. ❤️❤️❤️
— @NewWorld (@NewWorld_Living) March 17, 2019
What Ardern is doing by denying the killer the fame his actions sought is almost unprecedented in the 21st century. The names of so many terrorists, mass-shooters and serial killers are inscribed into our brains, and we can rattle off a list of any number of “worst killings ever” across the western world. It’s rare for someone in the media spotlight to acknowledge how vital it is to deny terrorists the one thing they seek – a platform.
On discovering that their platform was being used to livestream the massacre, Facebook responded by pulling the user’s profile immediately. Since that time, Twitter has intermittently been used to re-upload footage from inside the mosque, and numerous media organisations have faced heavy criticism for using the tape, humanising the white supremacist killer, or attempting to dodge culpability entirely.
Sunrise, David Koch and Channel 7 have done more than almost anyone else to make One Nation and the hatred they spread electorally viable. Any media outlet with a scrap of decency would refuse to air someone like Hanson three days after her ideology killed 51 innocent people. https://t.co/MzCe3R5Eyb
— Alex McKinnon (@mckinnon_a) March 17, 2019
Jacinda Ardern, on the other hand, grieves alongside the victims, apologising for this breach of their safety and shows deference by wearing the hijab out of respect. And, may I say, she looks incredibly dignified wearing the headscarf. This is the face of a truly modern, multicultural leader.
In an interview with SMH, our own Senator Penny Wong said that Ardern shows “how a leader in a nation’s darkest moments can inspire people to honour their shared humanity.” While this is glowing praise (from a senator who’s no less of a badass), I think Ardern’s message should also inspire us to make use of our greatest weapon against extremist terrorism.
There are 50 names that are more worth remembering than that of the shooter. Remember Abdul Aziz, the madlad who ran after the gunman with a credit card machine for a weapon. Remember Daoud Nabi, the 71 year old worshipper whose last words were addressed to the killer as he entered the mosque – “Welcome, brother.”
Fires go out without oxygen. It’s imperative that we deny oxygen to those who seek to spread a message of hate and fear, and give that oxygen to voices with integrity and heart. It’s more crucial than ever that we hold the media (and not just social media) accountable for the lies and fury they spread; to remind them that minds, not bodies, are the terrorist’s true aim. Ardern proves that you don’t need to kick ass to take names.
She didn’t have to wear a hijab, but she did. And her attire reinforced her words and her actions- it sent out a clear message that her country considered Muslims as one of them. It is exactly that message that needs to be sent to Muslims everywhere.#TheyAreUs #JacintaArdern pic.twitter.com/eyGjDsJCH2
— نتاشا Natasha (@nuts2406) March 16, 2019
Image from Twitter.