While the New Zealand police have refused to name any of the arrested perpetrators of the mosque massacres, the fact that one of them livestreamed his murders allowed many sites a positive identification of that shooter. While his video was pulled from social media, a manifesto he presented has been received.
The police are proceeding with caution, verifying all information before presenting it publicly. The information is available, however; if it is not later proven to be part of an elaborate misdirection, the motivation is clearly laid out in the manifesto.
The Australian Broadcasting Company reports that he is Brenton Tarrant, a personal trainer in Grafton. He claims to have had brief contact with Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik, who gave his “blessing” to the intended violence.
Al Jazeera has reported on the contents of the manifesto:
The 74-page dossier by Brenton Tarrant, which has been described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a “work of hate”, praised Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”.
The 28-year-old, who is now in police custody, also claimed that he had “brief contact” with Breivik and had received a “blessing” for his actions from the mass murderer’s acquaintances.
The dossier stated objections to immigration and multiculturalism, and decries the “decaying” culture of the white, European Western world.Al Jazeera
The UK Guardian quotes a different portion.
“I chose firearms for the affect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the effect it could have on the politics of United States and thereby the political situation of the world,” it says.Guardian
In the midst of this, an Australian politician, Queensland Senator Fraser Anning, responded by deflecting blame for the attacks away from the shooters, nationalism, and white supremacists:
His office also provided an official statement:
“I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman,” Senator Anning said.Senator Fraser Anning, via Australian News Co.
“However, while this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.
“As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all clichéd nonsense.
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
He is receiving widespread condemnation for his position. Calling a terrorist attack “vigilantism”, for example, suggests that the victims were all criminals and the attackers were merely acting without the backing of authorities. He directly places the blame on New Zealand’s immigration policy rather than the murderers.
From a political perspective, however, this is damage control. One of the great failings of paying attention to only one style of news source is a skewed vision of others’ perspectives. If, as reported, Tarrant and the other nationalists decided to use guns specifically to influence American politics, they had a warped view of the reactions their violence would precipitate. While most people throughout the world recognize the dangers inherent in Muslim violence – “Islamism” – they also differentiate between those who engage in it and those who merely ascribe to the religion. At most, some believe that there are structural flaws within Islam which encourage violent action. Comparatively few are willing to make the leap to claim that all Muslims are active or complicit murderers. This is the group whose support politicians like Anning have sought, however, and now the political damage from being associated with them is being felt.
UPDATE – Since this piece was published, more of the manifesto has been released. The Al Jazeera segment, in particular, seems noteworthy in its partial reporting, because it left out the fact that the shooter denounced Trump’s policy even while holding him up as an example of white identity.