What a way to lead

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Mar 22, 2019

I'm writing this nearly a week before you will read it. I can't imagine what the people of Christchurch, New Zealand – and the whole country, in fact – must be feeling today, after a man attacked two mosques while worshipers were at prayer, killing at least 49, and injuring dozens more. Before the slaughter, a manifesto written by the attacker was posted online, in which a man who was later arrested for murder identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian.

In addition, the gunman wore a helmet camera, filmed part of the attack and livestreamed it on social media. He was hailed as a hero, according to news reports, on far-right websites.

According to the news stories I’ve read and listened to, the manifesto was filled with anti-Muslim and white supremacist statements and named as the writer’s heroes others who had carried out mass killings. He reportedly said he had chosen New Zealand, where such carnage has been virtually unknown, because of its reputation as one of the world’s safest countries.

When our National Public Radio interviewed a reporter from Auckland, New Zealand, about the massacre, she did well, I thought, at retaining her professional composure, but the emotion was there in her voice—the disbelief, the dismay -- as she related what an unthinkable thing it was for violence on this scale to happen in her homeland.

I felt for her, who has not become inured through repetition to mass violence as a common occurrence, almost a way of life. It was clear, this horrifying event -- the lives lost, the hatred that motivated the killing -- was truly unthinkable to her.

I also felt a little bit responsible, on behalf of the United States. I couldn't help wondering whether the well publicized acts of terror against Muslims, Jews and nonwhites in this country, as well as the increase in recent years in anti-immigrant fervor, might not have spread, like a disease, and infected others across the globe who are already inclined to feel aggrieved. Such ugly attitudes have been given both license and a public platform by the highest officials of our government, so why wouldn't people in other places, people who feel that they've gotten a raw deal in life or who fear losing their precarious economic perch to those they see as "other," take comfort and inspiration from that?

I know that this kind of violence has happened in many places around the globe, and many countries have their own homegrown hate groups and spokesmen for bigotry, both at the grassroots and among their political classes.

But no country as prominent as the U.S. has elected one of them to be its head of state.

Instead of exporting democracy, as our country used to aspire to do, are we now sending abroad our most invidious ideologies?

What a way to be a world leader.

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Comments (5)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 01, 2019 18:24

Ron, I agree with you. But would call our President a Sociopath, sadly. I hope with the next election the electorate will get it right!


Posted by: Kevin Riley | Mar 23, 2019 19:12

"So sad that the hate of one man has consumed so many."


Kinda like the hatred of president Obama be millions on the right.

Posted by: Kenneth E Wolf | Mar 23, 2019 10:44


Posted by: Kenneth E Wolf | Mar 23, 2019 08:19

So sad that the hate of one man has consumed so many.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 22, 2019 17:50

It has gone beyond disgusting as people get the master deceiver to autograph their Bibles.

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