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Andrew Dickens: Why I won't say the alleged Christchurch gunman's name

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 19 March 2019, 12:09PM

Dame Anne Salmond, the historian and New Zealander of the Year in 2013, has come out with an opinion piece today in response to Friday's atrocity. It has been published by both the NZ Herald and Fairfax so she obviously wants it widely debated.

In it, she says that white supremacy is part of us and she says in its soft version it can look bland and reasonable. A person saying that te reo Māori is a dead language, for instance. Of course, when you say that to Māori family who are fluent across generations then you’ve lost the high ground.

It’s important to say this because the horrors of extremism are built on top of a base of smaller slights. And if there is is an undercurrent the extremists feel as though there are supporters out there waiting to be mobilised by their insane actions.

A small example of this happened over the weekend when a well known, intelligent, conservative female blogger posted in social media. She said that no matter what you think of her, Jacinda Ardern is doing a great job. So far so good. But then she couldn’t help herself. She wrote pity about the headscarf.

A small cultural slur which is not based on the scarf but more an inability to cope with a hijab or burka. Complaining about the scarf is like complaining about anyone wearing formal wear. I was very tempted to ask if she would say the same to the Queen who is also very fond of a headscarf on its day.

But I say all this because that casual racism and culturism that has been a low buzz in our society has been absent for the past few days. Replaced by love and tolerance and frankly, it has been so refreshing. I wonder if we can keep it up as time goes on?

Now I have received a lot of comments on my Facebook page regarding my pledge to refuse to say the perpetrator’s name and my wish that his forthcoming court case be held in closed court, with a judge and a jury and no coverage of his methods or motivations.

I was further horrified when yesterday he fired his lawyer and said he would represent himself. We already know that his current intention is to plead not guilty.

So I’m going to reiterate that pledge. So far I have never said his name and I’m intending not to, though given my job I may be forced to.

But I don’t want this man’s name joining Anders Breivik as a superstar of the extremist movements they represent. I want him and his name and his evil to disappear.

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