- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quickly tweeted out her thoughts on Friday about the terror attack that killed 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand.
- She initially tweeted in part: “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?” which she said was a “reference to the NRA’s phrase used to deflect conversation away from policy change during tragedies.”
- Some pushed back on her message, accusing her of “mocking” prayer and politicizing the tragedy.
- Ocasio-Cortez then pivoted to attacking white supremacy and called on Americans – particularly white people – to do more to fight radicalization.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a series of tweets on Friday in the immediate aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack that targeted two mosques – where at least 49 people were murdered, included young children – in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
While news of the attack was breaking early Friday morning, the lawmaker eschewed the standard statement condemning violence and offering condolences that politicians often deliver after similar attacks.
Instead, the 29-year-old Democrat responded in her typically unfiltered style with a series of impromptu tweets.
She compared the attack to recent mass shootings in American places of worship, naming the church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. And she questioned the response that many politicians and pro-gun activists often have to mass shootings.
“At 1st I thought of saying, ‘Imagine being told your house of faith isn’t safe anymore,'” she wrote. “But I couldn’t say ‘imagine.’ Because of Charleston. Pittsburgh. Sutherland Springs. What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?”
At 1st I thought of saying, “Imagine being told your house of faith isn’t safe anymore.”
But I couldn’t say “imagine.”
Because of Charleston.
What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?pic.twitter.com/2mSw0azDN8
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 15, 2019
After receiving some pushback to what was perceived as insensitivity to the Muslim victims slain at their place of prayer and worship, Ocasio-Cortez clarified that the National Rifle Association was the intended recipient of her criticism.
“Thoughts and prayers’ is reference to the NRA’s phrase used to deflect conversation away from policy change during tragedies. Not directed to PM Ardern, who I greatly admire,” the lawmaker tweeted.
Many responded that attacking the NRA only politicized the tragedy.
The NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch got involved, accusing Ocasio-Cortez, who was raised Catholic, of “mocking” prayer.
“Pretty sure thoughts and prayers isn’t anyone’s phrase, and prayer especially (which you mocked earlier after what happened in a house of prayer?) is a real action, a petition to, a conversation with, God – in this case, to request protection, comfort for those suffering,” Loesch tweeted.
Ocasio-Cortez pivoted her messaging, posting a slew of tweets attacking white supremacy and urging Americans to address right-wing radicalization.
She also encouraged her followers to support their Muslim friends and family.
The New York Democrat also blamed President Donald Trump for scaling back government efforts to fight right-wing extremism and for implementing a travel ban for immigrants from several Muslim-majority nations.
Trump has been heavily criticized for saying that there were “very fine people” at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. And a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released last October found that most Americans believe that Trump has “encouraged white supremacist groups” with his decisions and behavior.
Ocasio-Cortez retweeted a list of terrorist attacks at places of worship – including churches, mosques, a synagogue, and a Sikh temple – that were all perpetrated by white supremacists. She said Americans need to do more to address white-supremacist radicalization.
“We have a responsibility to understand how white supremacy + online radicalization works, because it is impacting our entire society,” she wrote. “WE ALL can play a role in recognizing + preventing spread of white supremacy, especially our white friends.”