Listening after Christchurch

Following the massacre at the Al Noor Mosque in Otautahi Christchurch on March 15, social media and political commentary have featured debates on the politics of speaking and listening, and calls to listen in specific ways. Here I share my attempts to think through the politics of listening after Christchurch. This is a rough first draft, and any feedback, suggestions or critiques are very welcome.

I write from a position of privilege as a white middle class woman and academic. From that position, what I write is addressed primarily to others who are similarly situated in proximity to whiteness and discursive privilege. I also write from Australia, home of the ‘home-grown terrorist’ who murdered 50 people in Christchurch, aiming to listen out for analysis of white supremacy as it is briefly and partially made visible in Australian media and politics.

This initial gathering of thoughts after Christchurch is also a reflection after many years of thinking about the politics of listening and speaking, and attempting to work with listening interventions. Key ideas were outlined in an article on ‘Eavesdropping with permission: the politics of listening for safer speaking spaces’, reflecting on my role in a 2008 project that centred Indigenous and Muslim women’s voices on the gendered politics of protection: http://www.borderlands.net.au/vol8no1_2009/dreher_eavesdropping.htm That project resulted in a theme issue of borderlands open access ejournal, ‘Acting Sovereign’: http://www.borderlands.net.au/issues/vol8no1.html Through that project I had the enormous privilege of working with Goldie Osuri and Elaine Laforteza, and I learned so very much by working with Nicole Watson, Sue Stanton, Shakira Hussein, and Alia Imtoual.

Below I have included links to many resources for listening after Christchurch. This is an incomplete list. Far more comprehensive collections of vital resources have been curated at:

Christchurch Mosque Attacks: A Public Syllabus A public syllabus to help challenge Islamophobia, racism and white supremacy in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond. This syllabus is curated by students in ANTH 406 and ANTH 312 at Victoria University of Wellington, with input from lecturers and students from across the School of Social and Cultural Studies. https://grapplingwithethnography.net/2019/03/18/christchurch-mosque-attacks-a-public-syllabus/

Australian Muslim Voices on Islamophobia, Race and the ‘War on Terror’ Compiled by Randa Abdel-Fattah. This bibliography collates a sample of op-eds, commentary, radio and TV interviews, podcasts and spoken word performances created and authored by Australian Muslims on the subject of Islamophobia, race and ‘the War on Terror’ from the early 2000s to now. Includes a section on Christchurch https://meanjin.com.au/blog/australian-muslim-voices-on-islamophobia-race-and-the-war-on-terror/

Listening to oppressed peopleMeme shared on social media

1: Listen to the stories of victims and survivors

Listening after Christchurch begins with the vital importance of listening to the stories of victims and survivors. The white supremacist terrorist attack on Muslims at prayer in Christchurch has generated an outpouring of commentary and responses and discussion. In the midst of crucial debates and against the tendency for the stories, names and experiences of victims to be quickly sidelined, it is vital to center, value, and listen to the actual stories of the victims and survivors.

For example:

Dilshad Ali Say Their Names – Remembering the Victims of the New Zealand Masajid Attacks https://www.hautehijab.com/blogs/hijab-fashion/say-their-names-remember-the-victims-of-the-new-zealand-masajid-attacks

Mariam Khan Jacinda Ardern’s grief should not eclipse that of Muslims https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/02/jacinda-ardern-christchurch-grief-muslims-new-zealand

Christchurch Mosque Shootings: The faces of the victims https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=1221335

Khaled A Beydoun Humanise the victims, not the white supremacist who killed them https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/humanise-victims-white-supremacist-killed-190316052155064.html

The New Zealand Shooting Victims Spanned Generations and Nationalities https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/world/asia/new-zealand-shooting-victims-names.html

Christchurch terror attacks family say community needs to root out racism and hate https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111701047/christchurch-terror-attacks-victims-family-say-community-needs-to-root-out-racism-and-hate

2: Listen out for and center Muslim voices

The Christchurch terror attack targeted Muslims at worship, and yet Muslim voices have been and too often are silenced or marginalised in media and public debate. In response it is vital to privilege, prioritise and amplify Muslim voices – listening out and centring a diverse range of voices.

For instance, a compilation curated by The Spinoff in Aotearoa / New Zealand:

Hear their words – Muslim voices on the Christchurch attacks https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/19-03-2019/hear-their-words-muslim-voices-on-the-christchurch-attacks/

Australian Muslim voices on Christchurch and much more curated by Randa Abdel-Fatah: https://meanjin.com.au/blog/australian-muslim-voices-on-islamophobia-race-and-the-war-on-terror/

Listening out can prioritise Muslim voices across a wide range of genres and frames – for instance ‘You See Monsters’ – an Artsville documentary that explores the work of a new generation of Australian Muslim artists who are asserting their own agency and fighting anti-Islamic bigotry with satire, imagination and irreverence https://iview.abc.net.au/show/you-see-monsters

Listening out should also privilege Muslim women’s voices, such as the panel discussion on The Drum, ABC TV Monday March 18 featuring Sara Saleh, Lydia Shelly, Hanan Dover, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Diana Sayed ‘In a special episode of The Drum a panel of all Muslim women discuss the social, cultural and political influences leading up to the Christchurch terror attack’ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/the-drum-monday-march-18/10914332

Listening for Muslim voices after Christchurch must be attentive to critiques of ‘community leaders’ or ‘celebrity’ voices and the over-reliance on a very narrow range of Muslim voices in mainstream media and politics. For instance:

Statement From The Australian Muslim Community: Christchurch and Islamophobia https://www.communitystatement.com.au/ A press release and public statement that was all but ignored by mainstream media. ‘While our political leaders have expressed sympathy over the deaths of our brothers and sisters, there has been little responsibility taken for their own role in creating a political climate that has demonised the Muslim community for decades.’

Sumaiya Muyeen and Houda Ali Response to The Drum’s all Muslim women panel ‘Lauded by the panellists themselves and their supporters within the community as a moment of ‘history-making’ – for it was the first time The Drum or any mainstream Australian media had hosted an all Muslim women’s panel – we have to ask for whom history has been made here when the construction of the panel was knowingly (irrespective of intention) at the expense of black and brown Muslim women, which is to say their exclusion, which is to say the absorption and co-optation of their embodied experiences?’ https://writingsforthevoid.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/response-to-the-drums-all-muslim-women-panel/

Vanessa Taylor The Problem with Muslim celebrity culture https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/indepth/opinion/problem-muslim-celebrity-culture-190412200306719.html

Privileging and prioritising Muslim voices therefore requires ongoing attention to analysis and critiques of the politics of representation – the politics of speaking and listening – within which Muslim voices operate and are framed.

3: Listen to Indigenous voices

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, Maori have been at the forefront of responding in solidarity in the wake of the Otautahi Christchurch massacre. Watching from Australia, we might have noticed displays of First Nations leadership and solidarity, and also the way in which Te Reo Maori, First Nations protocols and Maori voices have been centered at a wide range of those public events and memorials.

Listening to First Nations voices, it is easy to hear Maori leaders calling on New Zealand to reject the notion that ‘this is not us’ in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque attacks, and instead to challenge that easy and comforting rhetoric, making sure that we really confront racism. We can also hear Maori voices arguing that this is a very important opportunity to employ, value and use, Maori protocols and strategies for grieving.

For instance:

Māori leaders are calling on New Zealanders to reject the notion that ‘this is not us’ in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/385226/christchurch-mosque-attacks-maori-leaders-say-acts-of-terror-nothing-new-in-new-zealand

Carmen Parahi: Christchurch mosque attacks a chance to unite and stamp out racism, says Māori leader “Academic Leonie Pihama says everyone is mourning for the Muslim community and all those impacted by the shootings. “We will tangi. We will karakia. We will karanga. We will haka. We will waiata,” she says.”

Christchurch mosque shootings: Tame Iti says ‘everyone needs to work on their attitude https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12213575

The priority of listening to First Nations voices extends across settler colonial contexts, including Australia. This is a call to listen to those who experience and understand colonisation and racism, centring Indigenous voices.

For instance:

Pat Dodson says murderous prejudice links massacres of indigenous people to Christchurch attacks https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/03/pat-dodson-says-murderous-prejudice-links-massacres-of-indigenous-people-to-christchurch-attacks

Luke Pearson in @IndigenousX on The white genocide theory and Australian politics https://indigenousx.com.au/the-white-genocide-theory-and-australian-politics/

Claire G Coleman They want me dead whether I fight them or not https://meanjin.com.au/blog/they-want-me-dead-whether-i-fight-them-or-not/

 

4: Listen to those most impacted

Centering First Nations voices and Muslim voices after Otautahi Christchurch is a way to listen to those who are most impacted, and thereby to those who experience and understand racism and colonisation. The activist-in-residence programme at the Centre for Culture-centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Massey University in Aoetearoa / New Zealand aims to ‘challenge racism by those who experience it’: https://theconversation.com/how-to-challenge-racism-by-listening-to-those-who-experience-it-113909

Listening to those who experience and understand racism and colonisation in everyday life, we will hear that the Islamic Women’s Council in Aotearoa / New Zealand repeatedly lobbied to stem discrimination and were ignored:

Anjum Rahman Islamic Women’s Council repeatedly lobbied to stem discrimination https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/384911/islamic-women-s-council-repeatedly-lobbied-to-stem-discrimination

Anjum Rahman We warned you, we begged, we pleaded and now we demand accountability https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/17-03-2019/we-warned-you-we-begged-we-pleaded-and-now-we-demand-accountability/

Susan Devoy – former race relations commissioner The warning signs for yesterday’s atrocity were everywhere, if only we’d looked – or listened to New Zealand’s Muslim community https://thespinoff.co.nz/news/16-03-2019/hatred-lives-in-new-zealand

In order to understand racism, in every day experiences and also in deep structures, it is vital to listen to those who are most impacted. For those who experience racism in media and public debate, in policies and in everyday interactions, the terrorist attack on Muslim worshippers in Otautahi Christchurch came as little surprise:

Brannavan Gnanalingam For those who think it’s come out of nowhere, though, the warning signs have been here for a long time https://overland.org.au/2019/03/first-they-diverted-the-river-then-came-the-flood/

In Australia also, Muslim communities have long warned of the increasing threat of white supremacist violence:

Randa Abdel-Fattah You were so busy telling us to keep quiet and conform, you overlooked the most deadly threat of them all https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2019/3/16/we-told-you-the-threat-is-white-supremacy

5: Listen for intersections

Listening for intersections is to listen out for perspectives that bring together the analysis of race, gender, coloniality and more. It also means listening for intersectional solidarities.

Listening for intersections will privilege sources that effectively bring together viewpoints from those most impacted and with intersectional expertise. For instance, the following article brings together Muslim voices on the Christchurch attacks and Maori lessons in grieving to foreground the necessity of recognising colonial violence:

Marianne Elliott with contributions from Brannavan Gnanalingam, Laura O’Connell-Rapira, Lamia Imam, and Jess Berentson-Shaw After Christchurch: a tale of two New Zealands https://conversationalist.org/2019/03/29/a-tale-of-two-new-zealands-and-the-journey-toward-reconciliation/

‘So, if we turn so readily to traditional Māori values and practises to guide us in how to deal with grief and loss and prioritise collective care in our response to Christchurch mosque attack, asks O’Connell-Rapira, why haven’t we listened to Māori when they have repeatedly told us about the need to address our country’s racism? Countless commentators of colour including Muslims, Māori and migrants have been calling for New Zealanders to make the connection between this act of white supremacist terror and colonization.’

In Sydney, Australia a panel discussion brought together anti-racism expertise including First Nations, people of colour, Muslim and black voices to share knowledge on dismantling white supremacy, the limits of liberal multiculturalism, the complexities of speaking and much more:

Can the subaltern speak? Navigating anti-racism, academia and advocacy as a person of colour today Panel discussion featuring: Amy Thunig, Dr Paula Abood, Dr Waqas Tufail, Atem Atem, Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah, moderated by Dr Alana Lentin https://acrawsa.org.au/event/can-the-subaltern-speak-navigating-anti-racism-academia-and-advocacy-as-a-person-of-colour-today/ – Audio file available at: https://echo360.org.au/media/7b61a4c4-f056-4518-a313-6fc66af0755b/public

Listening for intersections can also involve listening out for intersections of race, white supremacy, gender and sexuality:

Cindy El Sayed Queer Muslims, Islamophobia and mental health in the wake of Christchurch https://www.thequo.com.au/stories/423-queer-muslims-islamophobia-and-mental-health-in-the-wake-of-christchurch

Sara Meger The Gender and War Project: A gender Analysis of the Christchurch Terrorist Attack http://www.genderandwar.com/2019/03/18/a-gender-analysis-of-the-christchurch-terrorist-attack/

Listening for intersections must centre intersectional solidarities – listening out for public conversations and solidarities that are not centred on whiteness. Where conversations between people of colour are public and ‘eavesdropping with permission’ is indeed permitted, non-white solidarities and intersectional analyses can be heard. For instance:

Jonathan Freedland and Mehdi Hasan Muslims and Jews face a common threat from white supremacists. We must fight it together. ‘From Christchurch to Pittsburgh, the two communities are under attack. It is time to stand united’ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/03/muslims-jews-white-supremacists

Carmen Parahi If you’re serious about opposing racism, I have a challenge for you. Stand with Māori against the racism they’ve endured in New Zealand for centuries https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/111680203/its-become-cool-to-call-out-racism-but-will-kiwis-finally-stand-with-mori

‘Bad Feminist’ author Roxane Gay sits down with The Point’s Rachael Hocking on National Indigenous Television (NITV) to discuss race relations in Australia, intersectional feminism and why movies like Black Panther matter: https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/04/06/were-not-giving-roxane-gay-talks-race-representation-and-power-black-art

Carmen Parahi Māori Muslims face tough scrutiny from security, public and Māori https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111440206/mori-muslims-face-tough-scrutiny-from-security-public-and-mori?rm=a

6: Listen for history and for structures

Listening for intersections soon foregrounds the importance of listening for history and for structures, listening for context. All too often, when white supremacist violence is acknowledged in mainstream media or public conversations, it is quickly normalised and minimised. White supremacist violence is individualised, and public conversation moves on. The most common frame positions racist violence such as the Otautahi Christchurch massacre as an abhorrent, regrettable event, but not one that speaks to or arises from the true nature of who we are and what our society is (‘this is not us’). Listening after Christchurch requires listening out beyond this conventional framing of individual pathology, listening instead for analysis of social context and explanation, listening for the history of colonial violence and the context of white supremacy.

Listening for history and structure means hearing that white supremacy is fundamental rather than aberrant or individual. This means listening out to understand white supremacy as foundational and enduring, structured in to colonial projects and manifest in the everyday. For instance:

Moana Jackson The connection between white supremacy and colonisation https://e-tangata.co.nz/comment-and-analysis/the-connection-between-white-supremacy/

Lana Tatour and Na’ama Carlin on Christchurch, white supremacy and the politics of empire https://overland.org.au/2019/03/solidarity-is-not-enough-white-people-need-to-take-responsibility-for-white-supremacy/

Ghassan Hage White entitlement is part of the very structure of Australian society https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/18/white-entitlement-is-part-of-the-very-structure-of-australian-society

Scott Hamilton The land of the long white stain https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/20-03-2019/the-land-of-the-long-white-stain/

Paul Spoonley: Christchurch mosque shootings must end New Zealand’s innocence about right-wing terrorism. ‘Extremist politics, including the extreme nationalist and white supremacist politics that appear to be at the core of this attack on Muslims, have been part of our community for a long time.’

Safdar Ahmed Islamophobia: Night of the Muslim Zombie – ‘The zombie has played a pivotal role in the Western imagination of Islam and Muslim culture since the so-called ‘war against terrorism’ inaugurated by the American administration under George W Bush in 2001’ https://medium.com/@safdarahmed/islamophobia-f877dd659614?fbclid=IwAR1LfwC-tkPjnp3uySN2BtVswVuo1-Q5jOGun4gHflbHwSYEApwJm6XaKoA

Another important aspect of listening for context is to listen out for those who track white supremacist and far right organising. For instance:

Paul Spoonley The far right is right here https://e-tangata.co.nz/comment-and-analysis/the-far-right-is-right-here/

Stuff Editorial The new racists wear suits not swastikas https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111613466/the-new-racists-wear-suits-not-swastikas

Art Jipson and Paul J Becker White nationalism, born in the USA, is now a global terror threat https://theconversation.com/white-nationalism-born-in-the-usa-is-now-a-global-terror-threat-113825 The recent massacre of 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand is the latest confirmation that white supremacy is a danger to democratic societies across the globe.

New York Times interactive Attacks by White Extremists Are Growing. So Are Their Connections https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/03/world/white-extremist-terrorism-christchurch.html

Jason Wilson has reported on white supremacist and far right organising for The Guardian for some years now: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/wilson-jason

Andy Fleming slackbastard: http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/

The Southern Poverty Law Centre https://www.splcenter.org/

The Conversation, ‘White supremacy’ https://theconversation.com/au/topics/white-supremacy-18028

ABC Radio Background Briefing ‘Haircuts and hate: The rise of Australia’s alt-right’ https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/haircuts-and-hate:-inside-the-rise-of-australias-alt-right/10931448

Listening for history and structure after Christchurch also requires paying attention to contemporary frames of organising and analysis including ‘white genocide’ and ‘eco-fascism’, both terms used by the Christchurch terrorist:

Kaz Ross (2018) How believers in white genocide are spreading their hate-filled message in Australia https://theconversation.com/how-believers-in-white-genocide-are-spreading-their-hate-filled-message-in-australia-106605

Dirk Moses ”White Genocide” and the Ethics of Public Analysis https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14623528.2019.1599493

Sarah Manavis Eco-fascism: The ideology marrying environmentalism and white supremacy thriving online:The online movement has roots in neo-Nazism – and a violent edge worth taking seriously’ https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/social-media/2018/09/eco-fascism-ideology-marrying-environmentalism-and-white-supremacy

Listening for structure also involves listening for the continuing manifestations of white supremacy and Islamophobia even as we are said to be in mourning and self-reflection after the Christchurch massacre:

Proposed Muslim prayer on Anzac Day sparks violent threats https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/04/proposed-muslim-prayer-on-anzac-day-sparks-violent-threats.html

Muslim prayer at Anzac Day service upsets RSA veterans https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12218989

Open letter claims white supremacy and climate of fear at University of Auckland https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/12-04-2019/open-letter-claims-white-supremacy-and-climate-of-fear-at-university-of-auckland/

7: Listen for implication and complicity

Listening for implication and complicity entails listening beyond comforting narratives that ‘this is not us’, to instead listen out for implication in and benefits from white supremacy. Beyond feeling good or atonement:

Shakira Hussein Petals of Atonement ‘… the thorns among the roses are the claims to innocence, the assertions that ‘this does not represent us’ as though that is enough to exempt any of us from responsibility in a society founded on genocide and supersaturated with racial violence, past and present. Do not presume to hand us a rose and walk away with your conscience cleansed.’ https://meanjin.com.au/blog/petals-of-atonement/

Listening after Christchurch means hearing critiques of white supremacy rather than platforming white supremacy. This requires a critical distance from false victimhood, the celebration of white saviours and the desire for reassurance. Listen for the critique of white supremacy rather than platforming white supremacy:

Faisal Al-Asaad Post-Massacre Reality: Why we Shouldn’t Move on ‘No wonder so few of us find comfort in existing avenues for political action: technocratic crisis management and protest-centered anti-racism have little to offer on these fronts. Police safety briefings provide great photo ops for our self-ordained leaders and saviours, and little else, while queen street rallies reinforce the impression that the enemy is a swastika-clad fringe on the West Coast. ‘Rooting out racism’ sounds like a lovely Sunday morning activity, but the fact is that our problem isn’t the weed, it’s in the soil.’ https://www.pantograph-punch.com/post/post-massacre-reality

Toby Morris This isn’t us ‘This isn’t New Zealand we said. This isn’t us. But this didn’t come out of nowhere. Overt acts of horror are built on top of a lifetime of smaller everyday assumptions, structures and systems that reinforce an undercurrent of white superiority’ https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/18-03-2019/this-is-us/

Azeezah Kanji & David Palumbo-Liun Settler Colonialism Lurked Beneath the Christchurch Massacre https://truthout.org/articles/settler-colonialism-lurked-beneath-the-christchurch-massacre/

Aaron Freedman Opinion: False Victimhood Is Driving Young White Men To Murder https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aaronfreedman/false-victimhood-kills

Listening for complicity also requires hearing critiques of the centring of whiteness via the ‘white saviour’ frame, prevalent in the celebration of figures such as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Aoetearoa / New Zealand or ‘egg boy’ in Australia:

Mariam Khan Jacinda Ardern’s grief should not eclipse that of Muslims – ‘The New Zealand prime minister’s response to the Christchurch killings is to be admired, but the focus must be on the Muslim communities affected’ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/02/jacinda-ardern-christchurch-grief-muslims-new-zealand

Hinemoa Elder: ‘Muslim leadership must be front-and-centre in addressing their own experiences, including of anti-Islamic racism, in Aotearoa, New Zealand. And well-meaning Pākehā, you will have to get out of the way of that healing. You will have to finally learn how to share power.’ https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111582476/wellmeaning-pkeh-you-must-get-out-of-the-way-of-the-muslim-communitys-healing?

8: Refuse / mute

In order to listen for structure and history, to centre First Nations, Muslim and POC voices and to listen for intersections, it is necessary to refuse or mute dominant narratives and voices. This involves listening for critiques of mainstream media and politics, and listening under and beyond high profile ‘debates’ and commentators.

To listen for implication and complicity as discussed in the previous section, it is vital to refuse comforting framings of white innocence or goodness. This means resisting the desire for reassurance and instead hearing the consequences of refusals to listen and to act.

Tamana Daqiq After Christchurch – The price we pay for your freedom to hate: ‘Is it any wonder that this kind of unspeakable violence is visited on members of our community …. When Muslims are invariably treated like issues to be debated, or problems to be solved, rather than neighbours to be known, or citizens to be heard?’

If we accept the findings of research that points to a correlation between the incitement of hatred towards Muslims and the occurrence of actual violence, and still do nothing, what else are we to conclude than that we as a society deem the lives of the vulnerable to be of less value than the freedom of the powerful to give voice to their hatred and contempt? Are we really comfortable with that as the content of one of our most prized civil liberties? https://www.abc.net.au/religion/after-christchurch-the-price-we-pay-for-your-freedom-to-hate/10909984

Daqiq’s argument that unspeakable violence is possible when Muslims are invariably treated as issues to be debated signals the importance of refusing simplistic public ‘debates’ and listening our for critiques of media and public discussion. This can include refusing false equivalences and false balance in public debate, and muting the weaponised ‘free speech debates’. Listening after Christchurch must take on board the many critiques of all white media panels and high profile white commentary, and the analyses of media double standards, hypocrisy and reluctance to name white terrorism. For instance:

Mahdi Hasan Don’t Just Condemn the New Zealand Attacks — Politicians and Pundits Must Stop Their Anti-Muslim Rhetoric https://theintercept.com/2019/03/15/new-zealand-shooter-manifesto/

Aaron Smale Media, Maori and me: A journalist reflects on a career in which the media has felt like a hostile environment for Māori and other minorities https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/30-03-2019/media-maori-and-me/

Kate Hannah Don’t be fooled, far right groups have not been silenced ‘They have not been silenced. They are not the victims. They do not represent a legitimate political position. We must interrogate their claims and listen to the voices they try to speak over, or we are complicit.’ https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/30-03-2019/dont-be-fooled-far-right-groups-have-not-been-silenced/

Jim Waterson Media are reluctant to label far-right attackers as terrorists, study says ‘Global research finds violent Islamists are three times more likely to be called terrorists’ https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/apr/10/media-are-reluctant-label-far-right-attackers-terrorists-study-says

Susie Latham The Deafening Silence Around Amanda Vanstone’s Anti-Islam Rhetoric https://newmatilda.com/2019/04/08/the-deafening-silence-around-amanda-vanstones-anti-islam-rhetoric/

Michael Edison Hayden Twitter temporarily suspended my account this week after I posted a tweet that opposed far-right extremism https://www.splcenter.org/news/2019/04/05/twitter-locked-me-out-my-account-reporting-extremists

Gary Younge White supremacy feeds on mainstream encouragement. That has to stop https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/05/white-supremacy

Listening under and beyond dominant narratives and discourses further requires listening beyond the focus on gun control and regulating social media as responses to the Otautahi Christchurch massacre. When the issue is framed as being about gun control, or social media, or ‘all New Zealanders’, the persistent and enduring nature of white supremacy and Islamophobia can quickly be lost. For instance, on the limitations of focusing on social media:

Rashna Farrukh The Rot Starts At The Top: The Problem With De-Platforming The Far-Right https://junkee.com/gab-facebook-deplatforming/200060

The Saturday Paper Editorial: Turning a blind eye ‘This is Australia’s policy response to the inhuman act that was Christchurch. Not to address the violence – nor the bigotry, racism and hatred held beneath it – only to ensure that it cannot be seen’ https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/editorial/2019/04/06/turning-blind-eye/15544692007947

Martin McKenzie-Murray Controlling social media ‘One thing Australia’s new law is not is a reckoning with a culture far more tolerant of extreme speech. … Elements can be found in the statements of white supremacist Blair Cottrell, a man once praised by the shooter, and who was last year invited onto Sky News – not as a white supremacist but as a peer and commentator’ https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2019/04/13/controlling-social-media/15550776007990

9: Listen for cues and for action beyond listening

A crucial aim of listening after Christchurch is to listen for cues, or listen for action beyond listening. This means listening for calls to action, listening for less direct prompts, listening for invitations and for demands, and all the while listening out for critique and for when we’re not wanted. In the spirit of ‘eavesdropping with permission’, we might listen for cues rather than direct address, so that we listen without a requirement of being the center or the addressee. This might involve lurking, but always with permission, always listening out for indicators as to when you’re not or when you’re no longer welcome. This might involve becoming comfortable with being de-centered or uncomfortable.

If we listen for cues we will quickly hear the prompt that white people should speak less and amplify more when it comes to understanding and developing responses after Otautahi Christchurch. Pantograph Punch has developed an excellent resource for precisely this task:

Amplifying Muslim Voices – A reading list ‘Following the terrorist attack on the Muslim community in Ōtautahi, we’ve compiled an incomplete reading list of voices to listen to, from Muslim perspectives surround the attacks, how to combat white defensiveness and how to talk about tragedies to our children. … As well as amplifying the voices that need to be amplified at this time, it’s also an appropriate moment to turn inward and really confront the ways in which we as a nation state founded on settler colonialism have helped violence like this this thrive.’ https://www.pantograph-punch.com/post/amplifying-muslim-voice-a-reading-list

In Australia, starting points for amplifying might include:

Australian Muslim Voices on Islamophobia, Race and the ‘War on Terror’ Compiled by Randa Abdel-Fattah. This bibliography collates a sample of op-eds, commentary, radio and TV interviews, podcasts and spoken word performances created and authored by Australian Muslims on the subject of Islamophobia, race and ‘the War on Terror’ from the early 2000s to now. Includes a section on Christchurch https://meanjin.com.au/blog/australian-muslim-voices-on-islamophobia-race-and-the-war-on-terror/

IndigenousX online and on twitter: https://indigenousx.com.au/

In addition to amplifying, those who listening for cures and calls to action will hear a range of voices on organising, ally work and more:

Hala Nasr Christchurch terror attacks: Solidarity is about changing attitudes, behaviours ‘Solidarity is not a one-off exercise of attending a vigil or placing flowers at the masjid’s steps (thank you, though). It is about understanding histories of oppression, recognising and dismantling defensiveness, accepting teachable moments despite the discomfort, being open to correction and changing your own attitudes and behaviours. It also means stepping up and, as Jacinda Ardern urged, challenging the everyday casual racism of people around you and not leaving this work to Māori and non-white migrant communities. It won’t be easy. It will take guts and practice.’ https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111746520/christchurch-terror-attacks-solidarity-is-about-changing-attitudes-behaviours

Faisal Al Asad Today we mourn tomorrow we organise https://overland.org.au/2019/03/today-we-mourn-tomorrow-we-organise/

Sara Mansour After the Christchurch massacre, how do we deal with the trauma and outrage? https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2019/mar/19/after-the-christchurch-massacre-how-do-we-deal-with-the-trauma-and-outrage

Sana Qadar and Kellie Scott After Christchurch: How to be a good ally to the marginalised https://www.abc.net.au/life/after-christchurch-how-to-be-a-good-ally-to-the-marginalised/10911252

Laura O’Connell Rapira What you can do to help our Muslim whānau – A list of practical suggestions https://medium.com/@laura.oc.rapira/what-you-can-do-to-help-our-muslim-wh%C4%81nau-dbfc07b96435

Giovanni Tiso How to talk to your politicians and your media about the terrorist attacks in Christchurch https://overland.org.au/2019/03/how-to-talk-to-your-politicians-and-your-media-about-the-terrorist-attacks-in-christchurch/

This is our New Zealand: Report Islamophobia. Created by a group on New Zealand Muslim women in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack on the Muslim community, this website is a place to share and record abuse against the Muslim community.

Lana Hart It’s time we got practical, not rhetorical, about racism https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/111822611/its-time-we-got-practical-not-rhetorical-about-racism

Change.org petition Hate speech should not be profitable ‘We call on advertisers, business, government, communities and organisations to divest from media outlets that broadcast hate speech and racism, including anti-Muslim and anti-immigration material.’ https://www.change.org/p/australia-stop-supporting-hate-speech

Amidst the cues and prompts and calls for action, it is vital also to listen out for accountability, and for where our attempts at solidarity and good intentions might be critiqued. It is necessary to refuse the desire for gratitude, or acceptance, or acknowledgement in order to listen out, instead, for the likelihood of complicity and the possibility of criticism. For instance, critiques of the strategy of wearing headscarves ‘in solidarity’:

Anon Headscarves movement means well but it is ‘cheap tokenism’ https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111473440/headscarves-movement-means-well-but-it-is-cheap-tokenism?rm=a

Mehrbano Malik My issue with Kiwis being encouraged to wear headscarves in solidarity https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/111462185/my-issue-with-kiwis-being-encouraged-to-wear-headscarves-in-solidarity?rm=a

10: Keep listening

My final point on listening after Christchurch is not an end point, but rather a prompt to continuation. After Otautahi Christchurch it is vital to keep listening and to stick with the discomfort that might accompany sustained listening in a context of accountability. Listening for cues and calls to action is crucial to ensuring that listening does not become an end point but rather a necessary process for a wider transformative politics. Listening must be a guide and a spur and a sustainer of action. Listening can allow care and reflection to inform the action. Listening is also vital to amplifying, rather than centring one’s own voice. Listening to understand the context and what’s at stake, in order to better understand where to listen out and which voices to privilege.

The importance of listening and sticking with discomfort was highlighted after some attendees left early from an event at The Domain in Auckland on 23 March.

‘Speeches calling out racism, colonialism and white supremacy at an Auckland vigil for victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks had some attendees leaving early, saying it was “too soon” for such discussions. But organisers and speakers have defended what some called a “political” tone of the Jummah Remembrance vigil held at Auckland Domain on Friday, saying they were “hard truths” Aotearoa needed to address.’ https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12215680

Organisers and speakers stressed the importance of listening despite discomfort, ‘centring the voices of people who have been most affected by white supremacist terrorism’.

The challenge then is to refuse white defensiveness or fragility and instead to dwell with discomfort.

Alison Whittaker interview The response I want most is discomfort  ‘Shaking white people out of their complacency creates “fertile ground” for Aboriginal voices and their needs to be heard and understood … “don’t ask for the work, do the work” …Her writing pricks the prideful balloon of white self-congratulation on “reconciliation” and requires that allies do not ask for simple solutions, or claim credit for effortless posturing’ https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/gender/the-response-i-want-most-is-discomfort-20190501-p51j3d.html

Catharine Delahunty In praise of white man’s guilt ‘Duncan Garner has described the Canterbury Crusaders’ name change as ‘white man’s guilt’, but Catherine Delahunty argues that guilt and discomfort are a necessary part of moving forward as a more inclusive society’ https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/05-04-2019/in-praise-of-white-mans-guilt-why-uncomfortable-is-necessary/

Max Harris: Racism and White Defensiveness in Aotearoa: A Pākehā Perspective “I see at least four types of white defensiveness.”

Sticking with discomfort and moving beyond the desire for gratitude, listening as continuation therefore requires continual listening out for accountability:

Lizzie O’Shea ‘What might true accountability look like? How can we work towards it in a context in which we wish to elevate the voices of those on the receiving end of hateful speech and violence, while also showing meaningful solidarity and acting upon it with a sense of responsibility?’ https://overland.org.au/2019/03/australias-role-in-the-christchurch-attacks-and-the-work-to-be-done/

Listening after Christchurch thus requires sticking with the problem, and listening hard for ubiquitous white supremacy and complicity, with ears firmly tuned for cues and calls to action as well as critique.

listening discomfort.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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