New Zealand PM exculpates religion in an ISIS-inspired terrorist stabbing attack in New Zealand

September 3, 2021 • 11:30 am

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, like many government officials, can go to great lengths to avoid implicating religion—especially Islam—in any terrorist attack, even if it’s clearly inspired by Islamism.  Take last Friday’s stabbing attack at a supermarket in West Auckland, which wounded six people (the perp was killed by police).

As the New York Times reports, this has every sign of a being terrorist attack: the method, the ideology, and the fact that the suspect had already been under surveillance for five years because of his “ideology”. (Could that be Islam? As HuffPost reports—which for some reason isn’t allowing comments on this story—”Ardern said the attacker, who was not identified, was ‘obviously a supporter of ISIS ideology,’ in reference to the Islamic State terror group.”) It has in fact been officially deemed a “terrorist attack.”

More from the NYT:

The suspect, a Sri Lankan national, was shot and killed by the police, officials said. He had been under constant, active surveillance at the time of the attack at the market in West Auckland, they said. The suspect was not immediately identified.

“A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders in the New Lynn Countdown in Auckland,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference, referring to the supermarket.

“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” she added. “It was carried out by an individual — not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity, but an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community. He alone carries the responsibility for these acts; let that be where the judgment falls.”

. . .The prime minister said the suspect, who came to New Zealand in 2011, had been known to security forces since 2016. She described him as a lone actor who had been under constant monitoring because of concerns about his ideology.

“This was a violent attack,” she said. “It was senseless, and I’m so sorry it happened.”

Yes, of course the act was carried out by an individual.  Cultures, faiths, and ethnicities cannot by definition carry out a terrorist attack because humans have to do the deed. But Ardern is thick-headed here, for can she deny that that individual was motivated, at least in part, by a religiously based movement: Islamism? In fact she admits that! 

So what does she mean by her exculpation of faith, culture, or ethnicity?

What she means is apparently this: “Yes, this guy was inspired to stab people because he was gripped by Islamist ideology, but the ideology isn’t to blame.”  It’s similar to the mantra used by American NRA-ites: “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Except the U.S.statement is milder, because guns don’t incite people to use them in shootings, whereas ISIS ideology promotes the extirpation of nonbelievers.

It’s hard to understand a mentality that argues that an individual can be motivated to attack others because of faith, but then adds that the faith is not at all responsible. I suppose that when ISIS starts raping, oppressing, and beating the women of Afghanistan, Ardern will say, “These odious acts are carried out by individuals—not a faith, not a culture, and not an ethnicity.”

I used to admire Ardern, but sometimes she’s osculates the rump of religion way too arde(r)ntly.

26 thoughts on “New Zealand PM exculpates religion in an ISIS-inspired terrorist stabbing attack in New Zealand

  1. She accepted the idea that they needed to get rid of the guns. So with this, ISIS, you need to get rid of the religion. Must always go after the cause.

    1. There’s a strange disconnection here among those who thought that compulsorily buying guns from law-abiding NZ gun owners was the correct response to a massacre committed by a lone-wolf Australian eco-nutter who exploited a change in gun regulations (made by a parliamentary committee which included Ardern) and police failure to properly monitor his purchases; these same bien-pensants readily damn gun owners and a vague, right-wing racist movement while staying silent on Islamic terrorists and the religion which drives them. (Hey, Auto-correct, when I use ‘pensants’, I don’t mean ‘pendants’ or ‘peasants’.)

      Ardern says the killer is not supported by anyone or any community here, but news reports imply that he is just one of several under close surveillance by the police, which is why the police were able to shoot him within a minute of the attack beginning.

      As for the gun confiscation program, gangs have refused to take part and, if news reports are a reliable indication, gang gun crime is rising.

      1. So she’s lying for the social good?

        Yes.

        Every Kiwi already understands that there’s religion behind this.

        The may be the case, but I suspect that, as in any large population, there are some people who would delight in giving “foreigners” a hard time. If the prime minister blamed Islam, there are people who would take that as licence to do extract revenge from unconnected Muslims.

        Edit: Having seen your replies to other posts making similar points to me, I must stress that I’m not claiming it is the right thing to do, I am just giving my hypothesis as to why Arden said what she said.

        1. Well, I am. It’s the right thing to do. Given the choice between downplaying the role of Islam in the attack, and inflaming hatreds which are likely to increase revenge attacks – which are the only two realistic choices* – the former is better. *Asterisk: there is also the option of giving a 10,000 word essay on the problem, which approximately no one will listen to, and which will be summarized by reporters in simplistic terms. This just amounts to mixing the two responses, and leaving the ratio of the mix up to the reporters.

  2. … for can she deny that that individual was motivated, at least in part, by a religiously based movement: Islamism? In fact she admits that!

    So what does she mean by her exculpation of faith, culture, or ethnicity?

    I think PM Ardern should have been more explicit there in step two by calling out the specific ideology by name, but can’t fault her for urging Kiwis not to blame the NZ Muslim community generally or the Sri Lankan ethnic group of which the perp was a member.

      1. I suppose that if there were an epidemic of Catholic abuse of children, Ardern would be “strategic” in saying “These are acts of individuals and not of a faith or a culture.” You’d approve of that, right? Or are only Muslims immune from having their religious dogma and practices called out?

    1. Sorry, but if a religious ideology leads to terrorism, it’s both harmful and duplicitous to deny that. She could easily have said “Not all Muslims” while still indicting the violent parts of Islamism.

      1. Not sure what the disagreement is here. I think PM Arden should have identified the ideology the perpetrator was “gripped by” as “Islamism.” I think it would’ve been inaccurate and imprudent for her to cast blame more widely on New Zealand’s Muslim or Sri Lankan communities. You disagree?

  3. I guess Ardern might be trying to distinguish between Islam and the extreme ideology of ISIS – but she could usefully have spelt it out, if so.

  4. “…an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community.”

    Had she merely said slightly differently
    … an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is NOT supported here by any community and IS supported by a very tiny number of dangerous individuals who are under surveillance by our security’,

    it would be far less objectionable and likely far closer to the exact truth.

    She might have added:
    ‘In contradistinction to some other western societies, ours is not infested with large numbers of racist assholes, so we can have a hopeful outcome to all of this.’
    And the education level of NZers is probably at the level where none of those words would be out of the range of many listeners. Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but they seem to have a damn good government, at least now.

    1. ‘In contradistinction to some other western societies, ours is not infested with large numbers of racist assholes….’

      Many Pacific Islanders and NZ Maori would disagree.

      1. I take it you are yourself a New Zealander, and so have no argument.

        Do you fault the present NZ government in this respect?

        To be clear though, I do wish to point out that I speak of present attitudes, not of wrongs from decades ago. But it is more than a decade since I have been there.

        1. I definitely do not fault the current government for the continuing racism. They probably could do more, but in a working democracy they cannot get too far ahead of the voters, and NZ’s undeniably racist colonial history is still a strong influence. For example, there is currently significant controversy around proposals to start teaching NZ history in schools.

          1. “..controversy around proposals to start teaching NZ history..”

            Though Canuck, not USian, that sounds a bit like some of the poorer criticisms south of the border: to the 1619 project, and to critical race theory. Much other criticism is valid of course.

  5. Islam is not compatible with 21st century Western society. Trying to claim a very diluted form of Islam deserves respect is wholly unconvincing.

  6. I think the thing that makes a particular religion at fault for a terrorist attack is when the perpetrators say they did it for that religion.

    Oh, but you can’t go by what people say!
    You can’t?
    No. Religious people are always saying crazy things.

  7. In Ardern-speak, a dialect closely related to NPR-speak, the unwelcome ideology in question is always identified by a mysterious acronym. The acronym’s words are never spelled out, as that would bring up Isl—c.

  8. I note that the culprit was described as a “lone wolf”.

    Funny that. I seemed to recall numerous outbreaks of stupidity from the regressive left, the Pharyngula types, the Nasty Mangos and Sacha Saeen troll types, that only “white” people are ever described as being a “lone wolf”.

    1. I think the elephant in the room is the fact that Ardern has not lived up to expectations. Her approach to the pandemic has proven inefficient in the long run, with continued strict lockdowns and little progress towards vaccination. The cozying up to China and refusal to condemn human rights abuses there means NZ is this close to being ejected from the Five Eyes, as it is felt to be insecure to trust the NZ government with intelligence materials. It appears that being young, female, agnostic (ex-mormon) and soi-disant progressive (though remarkably fond of rather authoritarian interventions) are not sufficient qualifications to be a successful leader. We have had a similar experience with Trudeau-fils. Beware ‘celebrity politicians’ who turn out to have a short shelf life.

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