The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, gave a beautiful tribute to the Muslim community following the attack on Christchurch. Furthermore, she's offered, for one of the first times in history, a concerted body of reparations to victims and their families. The speech conveyed heartfelt compassion and empathy.
Ardern signaled her solidarity with the Muslim community by donning a black hijab and opening and closing her tribute with "Al salam alaykum," the Arabic greeting for "Peace be upon you."
She then acknowledged the Muslim community as a part of the nation ("They were New Zealanders. They are us."), not as others, which is a narrative that so commonly prevails in the xenophobic culture of hate that can seem to pervade online today.
Then, directly to the families, she tells them, "We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage." She acknowledges that she cannot ever truly empathize with the very people she advocates for, and that, to me, is powerful.
She follows up by thanking the servicemen and specific individuals who contributed to putting an end to the shooting.
Vigilence, she promised, would be maintained with additional security, but more importantly, reparations would be offered: funeral cost subsidies, a community welfare center, visas for family members abroad, mental health and social support, language support, and more.
She expressed anger and immediate action: gun law revisions in less than 72 hours after the attack, a new look at social media's role as a disseminator of information, and the following pressure on those companies to acknowledge their roles in effecting the safety of their communities.
Lastly, these lines struck me the most:
"He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety.
And that is why you will never hear me mention his name.
He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist.
But he will, when I speak, be nameless.
And to others I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost, rather than name of the man who took them.
He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name."
If we selectively control for the information and attention we give to things, people, and ideas, we can control for those to whom we lend power.