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Illustration by Bill Cawthon

As I write this, it is about half past noon in Christchurch, New Zealand. It has been about 48 hours since Brenton Tarrant, an anti-Muslim fanatic from Australia, began murdering worshippers in two mosques.

By the time Tarrant was arrested, 49 people were known dead. A 50th body was discovered later.

About 2:15, Central Daylight Time, the following email arrived in my inbox:

“William, a white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand this week, killing 49 Muslims and forever altering their families, their communities, and their houses of worship.

People are so afraid, so terrorized, that they are afraid to sit in prayer together. Muslims in New Zealand were advised to skip communal prayer on Friday — the Muslim holy day.

“Today I mourned with my Muslim friends, and I heard one message from them loud and clear: our thoughts and prayers — even our heartfelt condolences and best wishes — are not enough right now. We must act.

Please chip in $5 right now to show your solidarity. Support the ongoing resistance work of Muslim-led organizations fighting every day to end Islamophobia.

“Islamophobia is the poison that drove the terrorist attack in New Zealand and which makes life uncertain and unsafe for Muslims everywhere. In the U.S. it’s easy to point to Trump’s Muslim ban, but everything from the bipartisan zeal to make someone — anyone — pay after 9/11, to the swift public shaming of Muslim Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar demonstrate that U.S. Islamophobia has no party loyalty.

“Some of the worst atrocities in the so-called War on Terror happened during the Obama administration. Politicians across the political spectrum invoke “Good Muslim/Bad Muslim” narratives in debates about the Muslim ban and who deserves entry to the U.S.

“This dehumanizing rhetoric contributes to an anti-Islam culture that makes Muslims the targets of physical violence and discriminatory policy. We have to do everything in our power to end our complicity — intentional or unintentional — with anti-Muslim terror.

Please chip in $5 right now to show your solidarity. Support the ongoing resistance work of Muslim-led organizations fighting every day to end Islamophobia.”

The solicitation was not from a charity or a political party; it was from an online news source based right here in the United States.

The source, though shameless, shall remain nameless.

Maybe it’s just me. I’m in my AARP-Medicare+ years and perhaps I am just too cynical.

I found the solicitation to be offensive. It is an example of the lowest form of pandering.

Reminds me of a ghoul with a tin cup; using death as a fundraising gimmick.

If they had cut the first four paragraphs, the solicitation would have been more acceptable. Had it been to benefit the Aotearoa Māori Muslim Association, the New Zealand Muslim Association or the Federation of Islamic Association of New Zealand it would have been acceptable.

What really bothers me is the sad knowledge that some people who received the same message probably parted with a fin.

Yesterday it was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looking for political points; today it’s grifters trolling for good-hearted suckers. Both diss “thoughts and prayers” but both want to turn tragedy into a benefit for themselves.

I think the people of New Zealand need some time to deal with this. The police have the killer but there is a lot they are trying to work out. Families of the people slain need to make arrangements for their lost loved ones.

The rest of us need to let them have that time. We have all the facts we can get; the government has been very good about sharing what information they can. New Zealand actually has its own media; it’s their turf. We don’t need to turn this into another American-style feeding frenzy — and we sure as hell don’t need to turn it into a fundraiser.

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