“Ardern, on the other hand, immediately showed that she had no time for the perpetrator of the mosque shootings.“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand; they may even be refugees here,” she said. “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.”
These phrases are remarkable for what they do not contain: a promise to find the perpetrator and bring him to justice; any attempt to degrade him; any recognition of his desire to be seen, recognized, and fought. The opposite of terror is not courage, victory, or even justice, and it is certainly not “war on terror.” The opposite of terror is disregard for the terrorist.
In a later statement, Ardern made her policy of disregard explicit. Speaking to Parliament four days after the attacks, she said, “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 the 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.”
[…] In a nuanced response to a BBC interviewer, who asked if she was concerned about a rise in white nationalism in New Zealand, she said, “My call would be a global one. I’m very clear here to make the distinction that yes, this was an Australian citizen, but that is not to say that we do not have ideology in New Zealand that would be an affront to the majority of New Zealanders, that would be utterly rejected by the majority, the vast majority of New Zealanders. But we still have a responsibility to weed it out where it exists and make sure that we never create an environment where it can flourish. But I would make that a global call.”
[…] The most effective way to fight violence is to make the violence less efficient. Less than a week after the attacks, Ardern’s government announced a ban on military-style weapons. Even before the terms of the ban were worked out, Ardern encouraged people to begin surrendering weapons to the police, and at least several dozen people did. The gun ban thus became, at least to a degree, a matter of political agreement, rather than an emergency measure or a restriction imposed by the government.
This is what political leaders do in the face of a senseless tragedy: they grieve with their people, they think with their people, and they act together with their people. None of those tasks requires a declaration of war.”