There’s an unwritten philosophy instilled in many young Muslims: The Muslim community is like a single human body, and if pain is felt in one limb, the whole body feels it.

That’s the type of sentiment that not only Muslims but people of faith feel after witnessing the terrorist atrocities at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 49 people were murdered and scores wounded during a Friday prayer service.

The attack was motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry and thus sent a pulse of terror through Muslim communities in the West. But Christians and Jews have no trouble empathizing with the pain, imagining (or indeed remembering) such violence in their sacred space, at a holy time, while engaged in prayers with their family, friends, and neighbors.

That empathy ought to inform everyone’s reaction to this horrific event. Yet, politicians’ immediate reactions to the shooting showed us how politics mixed with tribalism often makes empathy impossible, thus furthering the terrorists’ purpose by increasing hate.

An Australian senator, Fraser Anning, for instance, used the attack to blame the victims, not implicitly but directly and explicitly. “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Anning said in a written statement.

When you consider that nobody has been killed by an Islamic terrorist in New Zealand, this broadside against “Muslim fanatics” is naked and unqualified religious bigotry.

At the other end of the ideological spectrum was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who reacted immediately to the mosque shooting by tweeting, “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?”

This rhetoric was directed, as the freshman congresswoman made explicit in a separate tweet, at the National Rifle Association, which had offered its “thoughts and prayers.” The repudiation of thoughts and prayers is dumb whenever Democrats and journalists roll it out, and it’s worse here, for obviously, the NRA has nothing to do with gun laws in New Zealand, and those gun laws are anyway strict.

So, when scores of Muslims were killed at worship, Ocasio-Cortez, whatever her stupid intentions, reacted by mocking those Muslims who, out of sorrow and empathy, were praying for the victims and their families.

The best thing that will happen in New Zealand in the coming days will be Muslims, Christians, and Jews joining in prayer for the dead and for those close to them suffering from their loss. Politicians, who want to elevate politics above all, have begun demeaning these gatherings.

Politics is often the enemy of faith and empathy. Our world needs less politics, because it needs more faith and more empathy — more thought and prayer, in fact.

The Washington Examiner


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