Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) pushed back against those offering wishes of support for New Zealand as it reels from a terror attack Friday.
A terrorist purporting to act against "white genocide" opened fire on two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques earlier Friday, killing dozens.
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Shortly after, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held a press conference where he told reporters "my thoughts, and I'm sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with all those who have been affected."
Ocasio-Cortez shared a clip of the prime minister and ripped into those who offer thoughts and prayers to the deceased and their loved ones. "What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?" Ocasio-Cortez asked.
Minutes later, Ocasio-Cortez shared a second tweet saying she had meant only to criticize "thoughts and prayers" because it was "the NRA’s phrase." She claimed those offering the phrase sought to "deflect conversation away from policy change."
("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.)
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 15, 2019
The NRA is an American organization uninvolved in New Zealand gun laws.
Dana Loesch, a national spokeswoman for the NRA, responded to Ocasio-Cortez. "Pretty sure thoughts and prayers isn’t anyone’s phrase," she said. She noted Ocasio-Cortez mocking the perceived power of prayer was a particularly inappropriate response in the wake of a shooting in a house of worship. "[P]rayer especially (which you mocked earlier after what happened in a house of prayer?) is a real action, a petition to, a conversation with, God," she said.
The shooter intended for his attack to divide Americans and create political discord. "I chose firearms for the affect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the affect it could have on the politics of United states and thereby the political situation of the world," he wrote in a rambling and sardonic manifesto.
Ocasio-Cortez claimed she had not intended to criticize New Zealand's prime minister for having offered her "thoughts" to the victims. Queen Elizabeth of England responded in the same way, saying her "thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders." Pakistan's prime minister said "prayers go to the victims and their families." Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat offered "prayers and tears." The United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs said his "thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims."
It is unclear whether Ocasio-Cortez thinks these state leaders mean to "deflect conversation away" from their nations' strict gun laws.
President Donald Trump offered his "warmest sympathy and best wishes" to the people of New Zealand in the wake of the "horrible massacre."