Can a politician’s rhetoric be influential?

A gunman shot and killed 49 people and injured dozens more in a New Zealand mosque. Many things were said about this man; he has his own history of anti-Islamic rhetoric and has posted videos of his hate speech on the internet.

Can the words we say affect people and turn into real life violence?

As a Muslim, listening to these kinds of tragedies that happen in our community honestly saddens and scares me. However, it’s even worse when you hear politicians condoning this barbaric behavior and hatred.

Fraser Anning, a senator in Australia, lost affiliation with parties in 2018 when he used the phrase “Final Solution,” a phrase used by Hitler during the Holocaust, in parliament, urging a ban on Muslim migration, according to the BBC.

“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Anning said in a statement released on March 15.

How does that statement affect the general public? It makes racists feel empowered, like what happened in that mosque shooting.

People in positions of power like Anning make it seem okay for citizens to take it upon themselves to eradicate groups of people from the community, and this doesn’t just happen in foreign governments.

In 2018, when prominent Democrats were being sent mail bombs, the man responsible was fueled by political rage, echoing the rhetoric of President Donald Trump, according to The New York Times.

You can say that President Trump didn’t tell anyone to go out and commit a crime, but you cannot deny his influence towards those who were responsible. This is dangerous, not only for the one group but the entire community.

Look at the comments on YouTube videos and news articles on the internet. Racist and Islamophobic slurs have made their home in the comment section.

However, with all this hate speech coming from our elected leaders, there is also a flooding of support coming through from other politicians.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Senator Elizabeth Warren are just two of many other politicians who have expressed their support and well wishes for the victims and their families in New Zealand.

These politicians bring hope to the people being targeted by hateful comments by the people in positions of power.

Hopefully, things will change. There are good people, good leaders working for the people, we just have to utilize our voting rights and maybe we can bring in a generation that doesn’t have to be terrified of getting shot when going to their place of worship.