Where the hell is everybody?

I am maybe unrealistically angry.  I cannot shake it off. I don’t want to be touched, I feel irrationally furious at the whole human world right at the moment, and it’s not going away. I am crying, but I am not crying. I have tears streaming down my face, but I am not weeping.

A couple things ticked me off at work and at a meeting today, and I admit, they were fur-ruffling issues at the best of times, but tonight when I came home, I don’t think they fairly accounted for how on-the-boil furious I felt, and still feel. I am outrageously angry, and I cannot displace it.

My husband cannot understand my anger, and I don’t want to talk about it. He is being extra kind to me because he knows I am bothered, but my anger is such that it is only annoying me, and that is not his fault. It’s mine.

But I think I figured out why. And the reason, for the reason, baffles me.

I think I expected outrage about the recent massacre in New Zealand all across my Facebook feed by friends as equally upset as me. But nothing. A scant few have said anything and they are the very few who I would expect to express their emotions in a similar way.

Understand, I am a US citizen who has lived in Australia since 2003, and so the massacre of 50 people in prayer on NZ’s south island by an Australian assailant who grew up in a town about four hours east of where I live now, is rather closer to home than it might be for my stateside friends, but this is an act that should be ringing major alarm bells, and there are only muted crickets with a few night calls of fleet birds in the dark.

I acknowledge there have been sad faces kindly posted by US friends in response to my outrage on Facebook, which had eventuated in me sharing articles about the killings, or sharing on videos of commemorations for the 50 dead. Why this should have been a comfort on some stupid social media platform where people are limited to a few dopey emojis to show support, I don’t know. Maybe because I felt I was not alone in my anger. 

But really, where is everybody? I know it can’t be because the victims were Muslim. Or I hope not. Not among the people I have in my friend list. Not the folks I share dog pictures with, or empathize over the loss of a parent, or support when their kid excels on stage.

It’s 50 people, folks. Fifty. It’s headlining major media not just all across America, but leading the news across the world. 

When 17 people died in the 2015 Paris attacks which took the lives of Frédéric Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Cabu (Jean Cabut), Elsa Cayat, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), Philippe Honoré, Bernard Maris, Ahmed Merabet, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), Georges Wolinski, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, 21, and François-Michel Saada, half the folks I know on Facebook added a ‘ Tricolore’ filter over their profile picture in memory of the dead and the US rose up in sympathy and misery for the dead.

People Union-Jacked up following the 2017 Manchester stadium attacks during that Ariana Grande concert which took the lives, many of them just children, of Georgina Callander, Courtney Boyle, Philip Tron, Elaine McIver, Wendy Fawell, Saffie Rose Roussos, John Atkinson, Megan Hurley, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, Alison Howe, Lisa Lees, Angelika and Marcin Klis, Martyn Hett, Kelly Brewster, Jane Tweddle, Nell Jones, Michelle Kiss, Sorrell Leczkowski, Liam Curry, Chloe Rutherford, and Eilidh MacLeod.

But not this time. There is no silver fern. embroidered into any Facebook profiles this time around. There are no celebrities speaking out against this outrage.

I don’t get that, because for American folks, the terror of the mass murder in Christchurch is as pertinent and about as “homegrown-US-variety-as-you-can-get hate” as the 49 lives taken in 2016 by homophobe Omar Mateen who walked into a night of joy in the Orlando Pulse nightclub. When Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Martin Benitez Torres, Antonio D. Brown, Darryl R. Burt II, Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Luis D. Conde, Cory J. Connell, Tevin E. Crosby, Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, Deonka D. Drayton, Mercedez M. Flores, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan R. Guerrero, Paul T. Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel A. Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason B. Josaphat, Eddie J. Justice, Anthony L. Laureano Disla, Christopher A. Leinonen, Brenda L. Marquez McCool, Jean C. Mendez Perez, Akyra Monet Murray, Kimberly Morris, Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Enrique L. Rios Jr., Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Christopher J. Sanfeliz, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Shane E. Tomlinson, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Luis S. Vielma, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, and Jerald A. Wright, dressed up for a great night out and never made it home. Again, people fronted their profiles with the rainbow flag, marched, grieved nationally, and fair enough. I was angry and in tears then, too.

It’s a lot of names, I know. But sit with that for a moment.

Because when Dylann Roof decided his own skin color was more important than the lives of fellow human beings, he walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015 and executed Clementa C. Pinckney, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton,  and Myra Thompson to fulfil his own personal brand of American white supremacy. 

This NZ attack was also as US-homegrown as Robert Bower’s 2018 slaughter of innocent lives at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life – L’Simcha Congregation, of Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger who joined together in Shabbat services when the killer struck and stole their last breath and affected their families and loved ones forever. All in the name of his anti-Semitism and white nationalism.

In other words, his cowardly, unforgivable, irrational, white-created, hate.

Nobody could nut out a reason why Stephen Paddock set up with an arsenal at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel in 2017 and executed Charleston Hartfield, Brett Schwanbeck, Austin Meyer, Pati Mestas, Nicol Kimura, Christopher Hazencomb, Andrea Castilla, Carly Kreibaum, Steve Berger, Brian Fraser, Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor, Denise Cohen, Christiana Duarte, Candice Bowers, Lisa Patterson, Rocio Guillen Rocha, Jordyn Rivera, Austin Davis, Laura Shipp, Keri Galvan, Tara Roe Smith, Calla Medig, Carrie Parsons, Cameron Robinson, Michelle Vo, Brennan Stewart, Erick Silva, Dorene Anderson, Heather Alvarado, Hannah Ahlers, Stacee Etcheber, Christopher Roybal, Victor Link, Melissa Ramirez, Kelsey Meadows, Dana Gardner, Bill Wolfe, Jr., Carrie Barnette, Thomas Day Jr., Jennifer Parks, Kurt Von Tillow, Jack Beaton, Denise Burditus, Sandy Casey, Angie Gomez, Jennifer Irvine, Jessica Klymchuk, Rhonda LeRocque, Jordan McIldoon, Sonny Melton, Adrian Murfitt, Rachel Parker, John Phippen, Quintin Robbins, Lisa Romero-Muniz, Bailey Schweitzer, Susan Smith, and Neysa Tonks as they enjoyed a night in the open air, filled with their favorite music. The most recent assessment by the FBI was for Paddock to “attain a certain degree of infamy via a mass casualty attack.”

That list of fatalities and the hundreds, maybe thousands of lives affected by the trickle down of his actions was triggered by some inane individual’s selfish desire without regard for human life. 

A lot more names, though just a fraction, a slender blade edge, of the number felled by terrorist actions in just one year in Iraq, and Syria, Turkey and Afghanistan.

We digest Middle East terrorism like breakfast cereal. If you tally the dead from terror attacks in just one year alone you’d likely vague out. It’s a lot of death. A lot of heartache we outside the global region we cannot fully appreciate. It’s beyond savagery. We cannot even barely stomach violence like that in a film, so how can we conceive of it in somebody else’s reality?

And as a society, with a conveyor belt of bad news, I get how the murder of 50 people in two mosques on the other side of the world might not pique your interest.

I get that the majority we, people untouched by the loss of a loved one to mass murder, have a kind of exhaustion when it comes to another massacre. I really do.

But I really think this is a terrible mistake.

Brenton Tarrant, who took his legally acquired, licensed, semi-automatic weapons into Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, March 15, steadily honed his hate on a diet of world travel where he sampled the sameness and differences of human beings, and chose to see only the differences. He praised US president Donald Trump in his personal manifesto, as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”, a description roundly dismissed by the White House but undeniably, verifiably, espoused by the man in charge.

Tarrant’s particular slant of racism is picture-perfect for the average white supremacist who proudly rallied for their white rights in Charlottesville, or some living room in Ohio, or California, South Dakota or Connecticut; about anywhere when the fear and intolerance of somebody not the same overwhelms their emotions to tipping point, and action is taken.

This killer was not happy there were non-white, non-Christian people living in his adopted country of New Zealand. In a country, like Australia, like the United States, where white people were not the original people, and in most cases, tried to dispatch and/or obliterate any trace anybody not like themselves. Meaning, white.

They’re still trying.

From the chatter and call to action on hate sites like 8chan, there is no reason why we should not expect a duplicate of Christchurch to happen in the United States, but at the same time, the deaths in New Zealand of people observing their own choice of peaceable faith are not canaries in the mine. They are the victims of a disaster which is already happening.

Change the nationality to American, the setting to Anytown, USA, and Brenton Tarrant’s killing spree can translate to what might happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month on US soil because the time is ripe and the conditions are real. Real there and real here in Australia. Almost anywhere there is a weapon to hand, and hate in the heart.

I am not angry with my fellow American Facebook friends. I am not condemning their lack of bold denouncement of this latest slaughter. I do understand it on an intellectual level. I cannot myself keep up with all the killings, but 50 is a lot, a lot, of people.

I suppose I am just angry, and disappointed, because they might have lived and loved and sung and laughed and danced and cried and hoped and prayed, just like anybody else in the world on a small island nation thousands of miles from the US, but their deaths are important, and we should all sit up and take notice, because they are the victims of a particular illness of hatred spreading like a cancer for which we have not got the cure.

Their names are (as so far identified as of March 18, 2019): Mucad Ibrahim, Haji-Daoud Nabi, Husna Ahmed, Lilik Abdul Hamid, Sayyad Milne, Atta Elayyan, Amjad Hamid, Ansi Karippakulam Alibava, Ali Elmadani, Naeen Rashid, Taha Naeem, Khaled Mustafa, Hamza Mustafa, Junaid Mortara, Linda Armstrong, Farhaj Ahsan, Syed Jahandad Ali, Hafiz Musa Patel, Tariq Omar, Mohammed Imran Khan, Abdullahi Dirie, Haroon Mahmood, Husne Ara Parvin, Mohammad Imran Kahn, Ashraf Ali, Hosne Ara, Hussain al-Umari, Mohsen Al-Harbi, Syed Areeb Ahmed, Ali Elmadani, Farhaj Ahsan, Mojammel Hoq, Osama Adnan, Sohail Shahid, Mahmood Haroon, Jahandad Ali, Maheboob Khokhar, Ramiz Vora, Asif Vora, Ansi Alibava, Ozair Kadir, Munir Suleiman, Ahmad Gamaluddin Abdel Ghani, Ashraf al-Morsi and Ashraf al-Masri, Abdelfattah Qasem, Abdel Fattah Qassem al-Dakka, Ali al-Madani, Ata Mohammed Elayan, Amjad Hmeid, Osama Abu Kweik and Kamel Darwish.

It is a lot of names. A lot of lives. Notice that. 


–  The lead image is 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim, the youngest victim of the Christchurch massacre. 

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