The New Zealand mosque shooter and the president of the United States have something in common.
The 28-year-old gunman from Australia, Brenton Tarrant, allegedly responsible for the murder of at least 49 people in two New Zealand mosques on Friday, held very strong anti-immigration views. In a 70-plus page manifesto recovered from him, he railed against immigrants — and Muslims in particular — for creating conflict in western liberal democracies. According to The Week, Tarrant wrote that “we are experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history” and blamed his actions on the growing number of people who immigrate to Australia and New Zealand.
Within hours of the incident, Trump used the same word to describe immigrants. After vetoing a bill that would’ve blocked his national emergency declaration to access border wall funding, Trump condemned the actions of Tarrant before going back to discussing the southern border.
There are “crimes of all kinds coming through our southern border,” the president said, adding that “people hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is.”
When asked what he had to say about the incident in New Zealand and whether it was symbolic of growing intolerance by white people across the world, Trump dismissed the suggestion. He said that there was no global threat of white supremacism and instead blamed the tragedy on a small group of people.
In his manifesto, the New Zealand shooter also praised Trump as “a symbol of white identity and renewed common purpose.”
This is the #NewZealand terrorists. His name is Brenton Tarrant.
He said he committed the 49 murders "to ensure a future" for white people.
And he calls a Donald Trump "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose."
Let that sink in. pic.twitter.com/Hd74cGVDX1
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) March 15, 2019
This is not the first time that Trump has used the word “invasion” to describe immigration. Late last year, his characterization of the migrant caravan — consisting of people fleeing drug wars and poverty — as an “invasion” that threatened common Americans drew a lot of flak from most quarters. When journalists persisted in asking the president as to why would he use “invasion” to describe a group of ordinary people, who would anyway have to wait for months or even years in Mexico before their applications to enter the United States were processed, Trump had their White House press credentials canceled.
One would expect the leaders of the world to condemn the brutal actions of Brenton Tarrant in the strongest possible terms — especially as the refugee crisis simmers on — but Donald Trump, the president of the strongest western democracy, not doing so, and in fact, characterizing immigrants in the same language as a mass shooter, is certainly worrying.