I was in Christchurch on an ambulance transfer. But before going to the hospital we needed to change vehicles, for our usual one had required attention. In the middle of the changeover all hell broke loose. ‘Shooter,’ someone muttered as they headed out. ‘Get your ambulance out quickly. We’re going to need the space.’ ‘Need us?’ ‘We’ll let you know.’
We parked at the side of the road and listened to the radio. Bloody hell. A man from the car yard wandered up. ‘I saw him drive past, going like a bat out of hell. Subaru.’
The news dribbled out. How many dead? Nine? Probably more. Cops everywhere, the hospital in lockdown. After a while, ambulances were being stood down and we decided to head back to the Coast. The patient would have to be transferred the next day. We called into a petrol station and I felt deeply ashamed before the dark faced attendants: Indian or Bangladeshi or Pakistani – ashamed to be white. We drove out of the city behind an Alfa Romeo, Guillietta. All class. Must have cost a hundred grand.
Thoughts of causality. What makes a shooter of this kind? I thought back to teaching at a distant suburban college (I won’t say where) and some of the boys: fragmented, alienated, chip on the shoulder, knowing life’s going to be shit, the internet and social media feeding the resentment (resentiment, a basic genre of being, according to Fredrik Jameson).
The Aussie press get onto the case. Soon we know: Australian, alt right networks, white genocide, fascism, Knights Templar, Crusades, taking the step to direct action… Direct action. The left can be believers in direct action: moving against the run of the mill political processes because they’re too turgid, covering up the wrongs. But the fascist is also a direct actor.
Now philanthropy and aroha take over. Philanthropy: ‘the non political and individualistic solution to the structural inequality inherent in the social system’ (Jameson). Philanthropy as well, is a genre, like resentiment. There’s a lot of it around. Aroha? We can believe in aroha.
‘We’re not like this.’ This is not us’. Yet white supremacy was the guiding belief of the British Empire. The Alfa Romeo was painted white. 10% owning 80% of the equity.
Forty dead by now. What were the SIS looking for? The Five Eyes?
Time for statesmanlike (statespersonlike) behaviour. And the PM does it well. The words flow. ‘This was an act of terror’. ‘We’ve lost our innocence’. ‘Dark day.’ ‘But we’ll get through this.’ ‘Diversity’, ‘One big family’.
At least it was a bloody Australian.
Once the schoolboys ran yelling through a funeral parlour. What was going on in their heads?
Through the pass and the perspective changes. It becomes a more distant event. It’s still raining. Been raining for a week. Sad that the climate change kids have been upstaged. Are the two events linked? Man has dominion over the earth…the apple of knowledge…kicked out of Eden…Cain and Abel.
As climate change kicks in there’ll be more chaos, more people on the move…