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Silence = Death

FP Interrupted

The Quick Take
A quick look at the headlines this week 👀🏃🏻‍♀️

  • A white supremacist gunned down 50 people in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. A week later New Zealand’s prime minister announced that the country would ban semi-automatic weapons. We have legislation and leadership envy.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited Donald Trump. Populist pricks in the White House.
  • In Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the only leader the Kazakhs have known since the country’s independence in 1991, resigned.
  • The U.N. War Crimes Tribunal upheld the conviction of Radovan Karadžić, the former leader of the Republika Srpska, and responsible for the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica that killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys. It also ruled that his 40-year sentence was too light. We couldn’t agree more.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU for a three-month extension on Brexit. Sure, said the EU, but only if you pass the current agreement. #Doh What’s the new date? Might be May 22. We’ll keep you posted.
  • Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing flooding, mudslides, and wide spread damage. 200 have died in Mozambique and 100 in Zimbabwe. Repeat after me, “climate change is real.”
  • On Sunday, Thailand goes to the polls – for the first time in eight years. We’ll report back on what happens.

Silence = Death

As we went to press last week, a gunman had entered a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and went on a murderous rampage. The temptation to scream outrage at that moment was high. In our hyper-connected-24-hour-news-cycle-“look at-me”-“I-can-out-outrage-anyone” world, we thought better than to add to the cacophony and Twitter hot takes.

Many of those hot takes highlighted the ugly rise of white supremacy and the real presence of Islamophobia. Both are so *fucking* real and must be examined, discussed, and, most importantly, beaten back. In order to do so, however, we have to dig deeper — and expose an uncomfortable truth.

White supremacy and Islamophobia do not merely exist among a bigoted few. It is bred and encouraged through public channels — public figures, conversations, and the media, both mainstream and social. Those of you reading this know (all too well) and understand (all too well) that who holds the pen and mic matters.

We (rightly) berate the media for doing a bad job in not representing the depth and diversity of society. Journalists, editors, producers, and bookers need to up their game and call on women and people of color. Yet, we women and people of color also need to take action. It’s a point that Omer Aziz aptly touched on last weekend. He writes,

Whenever someone used to ask me if I was Muslim, I often gave an evasive answer, something like, “I was born Muslim” or “My parents are Muslim.”… Perhaps this was the natural recourse for someone who came of age after 9/11 and was taught to retreat into invisibility because of the dangers of being Muslim. I knew, in my heart, that I was drawing the distinction only to appear safer to white people, to show that I was one of the good ones, worthy of belonging.

The need to belong is powerful. But by putting belonging above respect, we enable the haters and bigots. We contribute to intolerance. Racism is the belief of ethnic or religious superiority. Those of us who are targets of it, women and people of color, encourage and enable it when we remain silent and on the sidelines.

Silence most definitely equals death.

More on the Christchurch attacks:

  • Asne Seierstad wrote an excellent book about the Norwegian who killed 77 in 2011 & the similar traits he shares with the murder in Christchurch. At the heart is narcissistic personality disorder. (NYT)
  • A damn fine point from Gaby Hinsliff: Prime Minister Ardern has chosen her own way of cutting the suspect down to size. Not mentioning his name. Now what about the rest of us? (The Guardian)
  • The gunman who massacred 49 Muslims in New Zealand last week was inspired by ideas that have circulated for decades on the French far-right. Sarah Wildman and Sasha Polakow-Suransky discuss. (Foreign Policy)
  • Sahar Ghumkhor on the hypocrisy of New Zealand’s ‘this is not us’ claim. (Al Jazeera)
  • Rita Katz explores how white supremacists and jihadists feed off each other. (Daily Beast)

Read the entire edition of FP Interrupted here.  Subscribe to FP Interrupted here.

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