STOP giving them what they want. Please.
The horrors of Bataclan, Westminster and most recently Manchester represent a new and divergent malignancy which may grow. Partly it is a silent sickness of young, dysfunctional predominantly men who are misfits and easy prey to organised sociopaths or inadequate people using ever more harmful drugs, more regularly at a younger age. They plug into a convenient but warped idea of a faith they clearly know little about. They can then, relatively easily it seems, make links with groups who will put that anger and those perceived personal sleights where they can grow them. Finally, albeit briefly – they take on the convenient cloak of victimhood in order to vent their social failings, anger and/or alcohol and drug-induced psychosis, fear and need for attention.
Then the media give them what they crave.
New Terrorists on the Block is the title of a rather dark performance poem I wrote last decade about rumbling ‘real’ IRA activity a good while after The Good Friday Agreement and the then growing activities of Al Qaida. There will always be people who think the answer to their problems is to kill and maim innocent people. But if we remember that one of their ultimate goals is publicity we must be more sophisticated on this issue and stop dancing to their discordant tune.
I’m not talking censorship or not reporting facts. However, if I were a young unstable man with a disastrous background or other social problems, or just someone with vicious and violent tendencies, or someone of low intelligence lacking guidance, or an educated but immature idealist swayed by extremism and I saw the acres of high octane media coverage in the aftermath of Manchester and the following pictures of stern officers in black with weapons, openly on the streets of the UK – I would think one thing – ‘result’.
We also have to face the fact that the hard-core come from or have strong associations with countries decimated by war and failed Western interventions. Do we need to re-read Wm Golding’s Lord of the Flies to remind ourselves what humans can revert to when the thin veneer of civilisation is stripped away?
Where is the perspective and where is the plan? Rhetoric won’t do.
While terror attacks pretty quickly slip below news of the latest celebrity shite in the tabloid press and social media it means we are not dealing with day to day problems. It means that we are not talking about – for example - the (roughly) 25,000 casualties and serious injuries on our roads EVERY YEAR. We are not talking about the 40,000 premature deaths from pollution (see last week’s post). We are not debating why our NHS is still using an archaic IT system – something that only came to light when the system was brought down recently by hackers. They start to control the agenda.
Then we have the isolation of real Muslims. Vilifying a whole community because of a few bad apples is dangerous and stupid – even if the president of America can’t grasp that. Also, suggesting that these terrorists are their responsibility is mad. When right-wing supremacists and Christian fundamentalists commit atrocities – do we say it is all the responsibility of other Christians? Last Friday three men in Oregon were stabbed, two died. They were trying to calm a man who was abusing a teen-aged girl in a hijab and her black friend. The men tried to defend her and suffered for their decency and bravery. In part of his rantings, the murderer, a known white supremacist with racist posts on his fb page, claimed to be defending Christianity. Is he ‘representative’ of all Christians? He does not represent me. Are all white working class men responsible for the murder of MP Jo Cox?
The world is a truly upside down place when – in the US recently - one journalist was body slammed by Republican candidate Gianforte who did not like that reporter’s question (re healthcare). Gianforte was subsequently elected. And in another political meeting a journalist of 30 years’ experience was arrested for asking repeat questions of US health secretary Tom Price. Meanwhile here in the UK ex Sun columnist and now Daily Mail columnist and bag of poison, Katy Hopkins freely continues her bile and hatred. Although she parted company with LBC radio after her ‘final solution’ tweet. Like the terrorists, she uses vile behaviour to gain attention – encouraging hate crime. She has not been arrested!
Localised and organised terrorism may be pushed back – eventually - and I say this as someone who has (as regular readers know) very definite ideas about how we got to this horrible place. However, this new terrorism will be harder to untangle. These small people – with their failings and weakness can tack on all the baggage of a global mess to make themselves feel much much bigger than they are – it is the ultimate hedonistic high.
Right now the sensible nice people are being drowned out by the bullies and the thugs. We can help by not repeatedly handing a metaphorical megaphone to the thugs (see blog 152. Could the nice people speak up please)
I pray there is no repetition of recent events but I suspect that is a big ask. But if there is another horrible occurrence I want front page headlines about the terrorist’s inadequacies – relationship failures, social conflict, drug use, alcohol abuse – all the things that made these hapless failures easy prey to the hard-core. I do not want to hear ‘Islamic terrorists’ or ‘jihad’ I do not want any more stupid monikers (Jihadi John!) that elevate these feeble minded misguided creatures to the status of Godzilla.
In the face of this madness there is no easy solution but I would recommend we begin by NOT giving them the very thing they seek.
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