The problem with branding Egg Boy a hero

By in Opinions
A display to commemorate and remember the 50 victims that died in the Christchurch mosque shootings created by the Muslim Students Association sits in Upper Place Riel at the U of S on March 25, 2019.

Over the past several weeks, Will Connolly — more famously known as Egg Boy — has been gaining social-media notoriety after a video of him smashing an egg on the head of Australia Senator Fraser Anning on March 16 went viral. It has since gained over a million views.

Anning was addressing reporters following the devastating terrorist act on March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a gunman shot and killed 50 Muslims as they were praying Jummah in two mosques. In his statement, Anning condemned the Christchurch shootings in which he blamed Muslim immigration to New Zealand and Australia as the root cause of the problem.

Egg Boy has gained massive social-media support in the wake of the viral video. A GoFundMe campaign was established in Connolly’s name to help offset his legal costs, and the fund has since amassed over $79,000.

Egg Boy is being praised and celebrated all over the world. However, he is also being portrayed — quite heavily — as a white saviour since many posters and articles have come out glorifying Connolly. While Egg Boy certainly does deserve praise and applause, his rise to fame has overshadowed the real problem at hand.

Too many lives have been lost due to the Christchurch mosque shootings. Hate and fear towards Muslims is rising — even in Canada, where attacks against Canadian Muslims have more than doubled and have tripled in Quebec in recent years. No offence to Connolly, but his misguided heroic actions in supposed solidarity with the Christchurch victims have only made the issue worse.

The same goes for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She is very deserving of the recognition that she has received for how she handled the outrage and horror of those mourning the Christchurch shootings. She is definitely a role model for leaders all over the world — rewriting the script of how a nation should grieve and how a leader should act in the face of terrorism.

But again, her social-media fame is eclipsing the victims of the shootings. If we should not utter the shooter’s name to deny him any notoriety, then the fact that Egg Boy and Ardern are trending is also taking away from the recognition and the respect that the victims and the victims’ families deserve. We should take note of their names. We should know their stories.

Although Connolly and Ardern have drastically different roles — the former as an internet sensation and the latter as a political leader — nobody’s grief should be used, whether intentionally or not, as a rise to fame. The lasting symbols of the Christchurch mosque shootings should be the victims — not Egg Boy, not Ardern and definitely not the shooter.

Recognizing the underlying implications of Egg Boy and Ardern’s actions is critical. We all are constantly exposed to so much information online, so we must be responsible in what we choose to share or even like. As I and many others scroll through social media, we must recognize the difference in sharing Egg Boy’s video versus spreading news out of respect to the victims and communities affected.

As two weeks have passed since the mosque shootings and Egg Boy’s rise to fame, New Zealand and Muslim communities around the world are coming together to pray for and support the victims. Even most of the money raised for Connolly will be going to the victims’ families.

It is shocking yet beautiful to see worldwide support being given to the Christchurch victims. As we mourn the losses, the last thing on our minds should be Egg Boy’s “heroic” act. The Muslim communities of New Zealand, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, do not need a privileged social-media sensation to “help” them, thank you very much.

If you would like to learn more about the victims, please refer to the following source: https://www.cnn. com/2019/03/16/asia/newzealand-mosque-shootingvictims/index.html

Wardah Anwar

Photo: Wardah Anwar