A useful golden rule when observing current affairs is to keep your counsel for a solid 48 hours. This is particularly true in the case of breaking news about violence and potential terrorism attacks.
The incentive structure in today’s digital age is diametrically-opposed to this rule of sober and prudent analysis, however.
Hence, depending on the source from which you consume your news you may have believed the city of Sydney endured a white supremacist attack, a radical Islamic attack or deadly violence from a mentally-unwell man.
Confusingly for narrative-obsessed journalists (but I repeat myself), the knife-wielder apparently had a USB drive with details of the recent Christchurch and El Paso racially-motivated attacks but also shouted the well-known catchphrase, “Alan’s Snackbar” at the police who arrested him.
Several possibilities suggest themselves here. It could be possible the attacker was:
- Racially-motivated, or
- A Jihadi, or
- One of the two above whilst pretending to be the other in some elaborate hoax, and/or
- Mentally ill
In a move that should surprise nobody, Lucy Cormack of the Sydney Morning Herald, clearly disappointed the attack wasn’t a good fit for the “white supremacy is everywhere” narrative, pivots and manages to make the attack seem as if it’s part of a war by men on women.
I think a suitable time has passed since the attack to confidently state, regardless of what he might have said or read, the prime reason the attacker committed the murder and an attempted murder was because he was suffering severe mental illness. It’s unfortunate but no matter how well we work to catch these in advance, there will always be a number of such tragedies in any society.
Claiming this is part of some wider problem of patriarchal and systemic male violence against women is like claiming the attacks on New York on September 11th were motivated by a hatred of open plan offices and elevators.