By Tommy Gagliano
On March 15th, a terrorist attack was carried out on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The death toll has now reached 50, with another 50 or so injured. The shooter, who I will not name, live streamed the massacre on Facebook using a GoPro which he attached to his head. He also wrote a manifesto, which he sent to New Zealand’s Prime Minister minutes before the attack took place. The manifesto is 74 pages long, and in order to ensure this piece is fair and accurate, I have read the entire thing.
Immediately following the shooting, Twitter’s mob of blue checkmarks blamed four main things. They blamed guns, because they were the terrorist’s weapon of choice for the attack (although police also reportedly defused a number of bombs as well.) They blamed Donald Trump, because his travel ban and other “Islamophobic rhetoric” must have inspired the shooter. They blamed Candace Owens, because the shooter name-dropped her in his manifesto. They blamed PewDiePie, because prior to entering the first mosque, the shooter tells his audience “remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie.” What these people don’t seem to realize is that they are doing exactly what the mosque shooter wanted them to do.
The shooter’s manifesto is littered with sarcasm, irony, and memes, but his intentions are pretty clear. He wants to “save” white countries from immigrants (or, as he calls them, “invaders”), and he thinks the best way to do that is by causing controversy, getting people to fight themselves, and causing violence and civil wars. He did not carry out this attack because he wanted to kill people. He carried out this attack because he wanted a particular reaction from the world, precisely the kind of reaction that it is currently getting, in the hopes that it would lead to chaos and war.
Towards the beginning of his manifesto, he has an “answering possible questions” section, in which he explains his reasons for carrying out the attack (among other things.) The reasons include “To agitate the political enemies of my people into action, to cause them to overextend their own hand and experience the eventual and inevitable backlash as a result,” “To incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the invaders currently occupying European soil,” “To create an atmosphere of fear and change in which drastic powerful and revolutionary action can occur,” and “…to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political, and racial divide within the United [S]tates.” He expands on this, stating “This conflict over the 2nd amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize along political, cultural, and, most importantly, racial lines.” He addresses guns again later, under the question “Won’t your attack result in calls for the removal of gun rights from Whites in the United States?” to which he responds “Yes, that is the plan all along, you said you would fight to protect your rights and the constitution, well soon will come the time.”
While the cries for gun control from politicians in the United States have been surprisingly infrequent, at least when compared to Parkland and other tragedies, the same cannot be said for politicians in New Zealand. Shortly after the attack occurred, Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, vowed to tighten gun laws, including a potential ban on all semi-automatic firearms. The shooter anticipated this would happen, but didn’t seem to care much about it, stating “The gun owners of New Zealand are a beaten, miserable bunch of baby boomers, who have long since given up the fight… Their loss was inevitable. I just accelerated things a bit.” His primary goal in using firearms was to cause a war over gun rights in the United States, and fortunately that has not occurred to the extent that he desired. In this area, the people have not given the shooter what he wanted. However, this is just about the only area where his desires have not been met.
The shooter name dropped two controversial and high profile individuals – American political commentator Candace Owens and Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie. In his manifesto, the shooter sarcastically names Candace Owens as the person that has radicalized him most; however, the sarcasm seemed to go over the heads of many. He claims that Candace “helped push [him] further and further into the belief of violence of meekness,” but that he must also “disavow some of her beliefs, the extreme actions she calls for are too much, even for my taste.” Those two lines make it glaringly obvious that he is not being sincere. It becomes even more obvious that he is trolling when you look at the very next line, where he talks about how how Spyro the Dragon 3 taught him about ethno-nationalism and how Fortnite “trained [him] to be a killer and to floss on the corpses of my enemies.” The line before he mentions Candace is sarcastic as well, where he says that he researched his beliefs on the Internet, because “you will not find the truth anywhere else.” And if you needed any more evidence that this guy trolls throughout his manifesto and much of what he says is not sincere, look no further than his response to potential claims of him being a racist, bigot, fascist, etc., where he simply copy & pastes the “Navy Seal” copypasta.
While he was clearly being sarcastic while talking about Candace Owens, he chose to list her for a reason. He knew a lot of people would be too stupid to detect his sarcasm, so he chose a high profile figure that already had controversy surrounding them. He knew people that already despised Candace would immediately attack her upon reading her name, and that others would immediately come to her defense. It goes back to his primary motivations – to create conflict, to incite violence, and to further divides along political, cultural, and racial lines. I’m sure it was also an added bonus to him that he got thousands (if not millions) of people to gang up on a black woman.
His reasons for saying “subscribe to PewDiePie” before entering the first mosque were more or less the same. “Subscribe to PewDiePie,” a phrase that evolved from PewDiePie’s current battle with Indian entertainment corporation T-Series, has become a common meme catchphrase, similar to the way that “What are thoooose?” or “Catch me outside, how bout dat?” were. The shooter said this partially just to meme, as he did when putting the Navy Seal copypasta in his manifesto, but mostly to cause an uproar among the far left. While PewDiePie’s content is not inflammatory or political, many in the media have criticized him and labelled him terrible things, such as a “white supremacist.” Most of these accusations come from him accidentally saying the n-word one time on stream a few years back, and featuring popular political commentator Ben Shapiro in one of his “Meme Review” videos. The shooter knew he would get a reaction by saying that phrase, and the people did not disappoint. The clip quickly went viral, and resulted in a stupidly high amount of people calling PewDiePie an extremist and demanding that YouTube remove his channel for “inspiring a terrorist attack.”
As expected, Donald Trump also received some abuse from the leftist mob. The attack happened on the other side of the world, and the shooter barely mentioned Trump at all in his manifesto (he briefly said that he likes Donald Trump as a symbol, but not as a leader or policy maker), but in 2019, everything is Donald Trump’s fault. Many claimed that Trump has blood on his hands because his “Islamophobic rhetoric” must have radicalized the shooter, et cetera. The fact of the matter is that the shooter didn’t say that Trump inspired him, because he didn’t need to. He knew Trump would be blamed regardless. Instead he chose to name drop others, to create as much controversy and tension as possible. And it worked. Instead of coming together in a time of need, the world is too busy fighting each other based on political, social, and racial factors. The shooter set down his trap, and we’re all jumping right into it.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected by this awful attack, the people of New Zealand, and the global Muslim community. I pray that with time we can think about the way that we are responding, change our behavior, and use this attack as a way to come together and support each other, rather than creating the divide that this terrorist wanted.