New Zealand mosque tragedies reopen discussion about white supremacy

Meghan Schmitt, Culture Editor

The citizens of Christchurch, New Zealand experienced a devastating tragedy on March 15th when a man radicalized by white supremacy opened fire in two mosques during Friday prayers and killed 50 Muslim men, women, and children.
As the world grieves with the victims’ families and friends in Christchurch, the topic of white supremacy rears its head yet again.

The motivations behind this attack bear similarities to the recent massacre of Jewish worshippers in the Tree of Life synagogue and the anti-black violence enacted in the South Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The attitudes of these mass shooters, who shall remain nameless, reflect chants heard in the Neo-Nazi rally which took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Every religion which preaches love and acceptance of all people threatens and is threatened by white supremacy.
It has flared in response to a globalizing, multicultural society, and it persists because of public semi-toleration from popular figures and dark-web indoctrination.

It cannot be tolerated anymore in any capacity. Serious action must take place before more innocent lives are lost.
For this piece, in refraining from asking Muslim Anselmians intrusive questions for their commentary, the Crier has reached out to Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Ande Diaz for her thoughts.

She gave the following response: “For more than 129 years, Saint Anselm College has always responded to the social issues of our times. Whether that be educating the children of immigrant mill-workers who built the city of Manchester to providing an excellent Nursing program at a time when our country desperately needed skilled nurses, Saint A’s has answered that call.
Flash to 2019. When we look around the globe, so many of the world’s pain, strife, and violence is about ethnic and religious intolerance. From the Middle-east to New Zealand, bias and hateful thoughts have been channeled into violent and hateful acts. Hateful thoughts against an individual or group are a dangerous pre-cursor to violence.”

When asked about the methods in which Saint Anselm can strengthen interfaith unity, she replied, “The number one thing we can do is love all the newcomers to our community. Whether that community be on “the Hilltop” or at our nation’s borders. Love is what we are called to offer each other.”

Diaz also stressed the importance of dialogue to prevent students from slipping into channels of dangerous, close-minded rhetoric.

“Listening to another view does not undermine our own convictions. In fact, listening can help us refine our own values and examine our convictions, even as we have compassion for and connection to those whose thoughts or beliefs differ from our own.”

Thirdly, she emphasized religious literacy for all Saint Anselm graduates. As a practitioner of the Benedictine tradition, the college must give its students a well-rounded, liberal arts education which prepares them as “world citizens”, according to Diaz.

She continues, “We should be curious about how disciplining the body for spiritual devotion can be practiced through Lent in Catholic faith and through Ramadan in Muslim faith. We should be aware of the significance of Kristallnacht in the Jewish faith. We should understand why indigenous people pray to the four directions of the earth.  In my view, understanding that these many belief systems must not only co-exist for there to be peace and an end to religious violence, but we may learn, ultimately, that they deeply inform each other.”

Anger is born from fear, and fear stems from ignorance. The Saint Anselm College community is called to reject bigotry and advocate for marginalized people in discussions with others who see their existence as a source for malcontent.
The Crier stands in support with the Muslim students and alumni of Saint Anselm College. We give them our deepest condolences and prayers for the healing of their community.