The attack on the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand this past week has led many discussions and solidarity on the topic of Islamophobia. On social media, a new Twitter-crowned hero has also risen up the ranks: Will Connolly, a 17-year old Australian student, now referred to as “Egg Boi.” Will is famously known for smashing an egg on the head of Australian senator Fraser Anning, who was promoting anti-immigration rhetoric about the mosque attacks and then taking two punches to the face. After this video was released, Egg Boi immediately spiraled to online fame, gained the support of many people around the world, became a meme and had a GoFundMe started for him by fans made in his support. In only seven days, this GoFundMe raised almost $80,000 with the goal of paying for “legal fees and more eggs,” and Connolly has said a “majority” of the money raised will go to the victims’ families.
The problem with the support of Egg Boi is that it also derails from the topic of Islamophobia and the shootings. Giving a teenager $80,000 for doing the bare minimum should not be the norm. Making Instagram meme pages dedicated to putting flower crowns on Egg Boi have taken the place of discussing this international tragedy.
At the same time, another video began to go viral on Twitter. NYU students Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf were shown confronting Chelsea Clinton at a vigil for the victims of the shooting at their school. Chelsea Clinton had recently criticized representative Ilhan Omar for spurring anti-Semitic comments. While Omar had denounced support for Israel, Clinton said “as an American” she believes Omar should be trafficking anti-Semitism. This led to both Democrats and Republicans condemning Omar. When Asaf and Dweik confronted Clinton at the vigil and shared a clip from the video, it received backlash from many, including some of the same people who stood by Egg Boi. Small events such as Dweik’s pointing and emotional demeanor were seen as signs of aggression and hatred. Writing a Buzzfeed article in their defense, Dweik and Asaf explained that the confrontation was to explain “that it is dangerous to label valid criticisms of Israel and its lobby as anti-Semitic.”
Why are reactions to these events different? Maybe because it is easier to have a playful attack rather than an emotional, personal vent when it is not your community that was attacked. Maybe people are quicker to support a conventionally attractive white man before two emotional women of colour. Maybe because it is easier for liberal circles to have a black and white moral policy on public figures. Senator Anning was very obviously spewing hateful rhetoric, making it easier to justify an egg smashed on his head while Chelsea Clinton was more subtle and indirect. It took weeks of microaggressions and thousands of more people to lead to the Islamophobia that Chelsea Clinton contributed to.
It may seem easier to support Egg Boi than to jump into the complicated realm of who said what based on misconstrued words, and at the end of the day, there is no way to police what people choose to like and what to hate. However, it does say a lot about what people expect from activism; the subject must always be cool and distant from the topic. Being emotionally invested is at your own loss.