The US “Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern”

Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised around New Zealand for how she has handled the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks – with a lot of dignity, compassion and understanding.

At the vigil in Dunedin on Thursday night the large crowd was receptive to good speeches and a series of prayers from different religious leaders.

One of the most noticeable reactions was when Otago Muslim Association chairman Mohammed Rizwan mentioned Ardern – there was an immediate buzz that quickly swelled into a round of spontaneous applause.

Ardern has also had very positive coverage from around the world. For good reason.

She has featured in a NY Times editorial:  America Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern

The murder of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand, allegedly by a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, will be long scrutinized for the way violent hatreds are spawned and staged on social media and the internet. But now the world should learn from the way Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has responded to the horror.

Almost immediately after last Friday’s killings, Ms. Ardern listened to her constituents’ outrage and declared that within days her government would introduce new controls on the military-style weapons that the Christchurch shooter and many of the mass killers in the United States have used on their rampages. And she delivered.

On Thursday, Ms. Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semiautomatic and automatic weapons, parts that can be used to turn other rifles into such weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. “It’s about all of us,” she said, “it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

Earlier in the week, she told Parliament that social media sites must address the ease with which the internet can be used to spew hate and images of violence. “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” she said. “It cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

…the display of what one deranged man can do with weapons designed for combat seemed to persuade a majority of New Zealanders, and a strong majority in Parliament, of the need to ban rapid-firing weapons.

That attitude stood in stark contrast to the way the National Rifle Association and its political allies in the United States have resisted any restrictions on weapons like the AR-15, the semiautomatic rifle used in several mass killings.

I have seen this point made time and again on Twitter, often highlighting the contrast between the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’  repeated after each major mass shooting in the US, followed by the NRA runing a campaign against change, and nothing changing apart from the identity of the next mass murderer.

In New Zealand, it took one mass shooting to awaken the government. In the United States, even a string of mass killings — 26 dead in a school in Newtown, Conn.; 49 in a nightclub in Orlando; 58 at a concert in Las Vegas; 17 in a school in Parkland, Fla. — has not been enough. Nor has the fact that 73 percent of Americans say that more needs to be done to curb gun violence, according to recent polling.

The ban on terrorists’ weapon of choice was only one of the areas in which Ms. Ardern showed what leadership looks like in time of crisis. In lieu of trite messages, she donned a black head scarf and led a group of politicians to visit victims’ families; speaking without a script to a school some of the victims attended, she urged the pupils to “let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance for racism. Ever.”

She told grieving families, “We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage.”

In the same week Donald trump has had a running battle on Twitter with the husband of one of his advisers, and has lashed out yet again at John McCain, who is unable to respond from his grave.

After this and any such atrocity, the world’s leaders should unite in clearly condemning racism, sharing in the grief of the victims and stripping the haters of their weapons. Ms. Ardern has shown the way.

 

Ardern has been supported all the way by most of the rest of Parliament. Hopefully this cooperative approach to politics continues.

But she deserves a lot of credit herself – she has stepped up in a time of rel adversity and risk, and has got most of the country and much of the world applauding her with pride and admiration.

Also from NY Times: Why Jacinda Ardern Matters

New Zealand’s prime minister is emerging as the progressive antithesis to right-wing strongmen like Trump, Orban and Modi, whose careers thrive on illiberal, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Like any political leader she has a range of challenges ahead of her, but where it as really mattered she has been impressive.

 

20 Comments

  1. alloytoo

     /  23rd March 2019

    Impressive? Really?

    What exactly is there to be done in a horrible event like this other than following a script and go through the motions?

    George W Bush did it after 911, Trump does it with regularity.

    Emote and follow a script is Ardern’s specialty, when the questions deviate from the script Ardern reverts to “Really, really” and “absolutely….” and desperately repeats the script.

    The challenge is not now, the past week while emotionally charged is probably the easiest part of our national response.

    The challenging bit is to come:

    To tackle the changed security environment without impacting on our culture and way of life.

    To ensure robust debate and free speech isn’t sacrificed on the alter of political correctness.

    These challenges will include temptations which will be difficult to resist for any PM.

    • Fight4NZ

       /  23rd March 2019

      If by “Impressive? Really?” you mean this vastly understates her exemplary handling of a situation which if done poorly could have catalysed a vicious cycle of violence and tragedy worldwide. A phenomenal achievement under immense pressure during the pivotal period. Then I agree with you.
      But given that this is obviously not what you were saying, much less appear to have understood, then i can only reassure you and your like minded friends here that your freedom to publish your arrant stupidity will remain unchanged.

    • “What exactly is there to be done in a horrible event like this other than following a script and go through the motions?”

      Go through the motions with obvious concern and empathy and connection with people who are going thorough very hard times.

      I’m sure any Prime Minister would have done ok in similarly terrible circumstances, but Ardern has widely (nationally and internationally) been seen to have excelled at how she handled things. She has set a very good example to the world.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  23rd March 2019

        Emoting is her strength and not Bridge’s. But so far the administrative and legislative actions she or her government have taken have also been well balanced. We will see where she goes from here.

        • It will also be interesting to see how much the different parties and Parliament as a whole shift more towards cooperating for the greater good as opposed to cynical vote seeking, and barking at cars.

          This will be a test of Ardern’s leadership, but also of Bridges’ leadership, and Peters’ leadership.

          I think the Greens have a particular challenge given the divisive approach of Marama Davidson, which has been more prominent over the past week.

          • Duker

             /  23rd March 2019

            yes . I hadnt seem what she had said , but she was almost ‘Trumpian’ in her divisiveness, wrangling in her regular messaging about ‘colonial past’.

      • David

         /  23rd March 2019

        She has been good no doubt but the reaction has been from 4.5 million NZers in a typical loving and caring and tolerant Kiwi way. In fairness she hasnt had to unite a divided country or any such herculean task she has just been herself so lets calm down a bit.

    • Duker

       /  23rd March 2019

      “Trump does it with regularity.” You mean argue over the phone with a victims family!
      Or the Orlando night club shooting , which Trump statement called for Hilary ‘to get out off the race ‘
      The survivors of the Pittsburg synagogue shooting didnt even want Trump to turn up , such was his previous lack of compassion. ( It was targeted by the killer because of its connection to assisting migrants)

      he certainly acts appallingly very regularly

  2. David

     /  23rd March 2019

    Ardern has a far simpler path than having Congress draw up the law, the Senate looking it over, the President signing it off and the Supreme Court ruling it unconstitutional. She doesnt have a 2nd Amendment or a constitution and NZ doesnt have a passionate embrace of the right to bear arms across both parties and across the citizenry.

    • Blazer

       /  23rd March 2019

      so fucking…what!

      • David

         /  23rd March 2019

        Dont think that language is necessary Blazer. Just contrasting the legislative and political differences that seem to have escaped the notice of AOC, wasnt a criticizing anyone.

        • Duker

           /  23rd March 2019

          Where has the US constitution or courts allowed military style assault rifles or those that can become one. Previous Federal gun laws have banned guns of this type, which I think ‘expired’

    • The Consultant.

       /  23rd March 2019

      I’m laughing at all those US Lefties thrilled at the idea of a President who has the power to pass laws as boldy, swiftly and decisively as Jacinda.

      It’s almost as if they’ve forgotten that they have President Trump, and that he would love to have the same powers. The wall would be largely built by now if that were the case.

      Of course it works as long as you think the Left will always hold the levers of power and that the opposition political parties are little different, changing nothing when they win an election.

      • Duker

         /  23rd March 2019

        Trump had the republicans in control of both houses – how come nothing happened with his wall for those 2 years.
        Ardern has worked with the other parties on legislation . Trump reneges on agreements like the pre Xmas budget resolutions where about 4 were signed but then Trump refused to sign the last one – leading to partial shutdown.
        Ardern just used an ‘ order in council ‘ ( for immediate effect and legislation next week) which is much like Presidential Executive orders, wheres Trumps executive orders on gun control ?

        Your knowlege of US process is sort ‘Mickey Mouse’

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd March 2019

    The Left are starved of political heroes since Macron and Trudeau went belly up. So they have seized on Jacinda because she wore a scarf.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  23rd March 2019

    The gun control thing was unlikely to be solely her doing. People are giving her power that she doesn’t have. But NZ is showing the US how it should be done.

    Yes, she came across well here, but I don’t think that she’s very effective generally as PM. This was a one-off (I hope) situation that didn’t call for great executive skills. Many people showed compassion and empathy. In fact, almost all Kiwis did, and we raised millions in 2 days rather than thinking that thoughts and prayers were enough.

  5. David

     /  23rd March 2019

    The US deserves a media that provides just a tiny bit of balance.