This was written as a Facebook status on the morning after the ‘London Attack’, so maybe a slightly different style to a blog article. I was not particularly near to nor knew who was there, but especially with the ‘Manchester attack’ there was a lot of discussion.
I say ‘attack’ because there’s a cultural thing of making an ‘event’ of something, which I don’t like for the way it adds to sensationalism and, as I discuss a bit here, the culture of fear.
Another mass attack on civilians, this time in London. Here’s my commentary.
I don’t say ‘terror attack’, that only adds to it. The point of such attacks is to make us scared, to make us react in a certain way. To fight it, we should NOT do that.
Terrorism, presumably ISIS-related, cannot work in the normal ways. It cannot wage a war, as we had wars for the last few hundred years (none anywhere near the UK since 1945, though we have gone to war elsewhere and continue to do so). It cannot try and persuade us with political propaganda in the usual way.
Instead, attacks like this are going for maximum impact and trying to make us scared, so that as a result of that, we destroy ourselves.
There are a very small number of terrorists. Very small. As civilians, we are actually the safest we have been in the UK for a long time, in terms of political violence: there is no risk of war, there is no risk of mass outbreak of violence, there are only a small number of attacks like this. We are not in danger, in general.
(for comparison: 150 women are killed each year in domestic violence, and ~150 pedestrians killed by cars in usual traffic accidents (injuries of all type, like car-car crashes, is 1-2 thousand I think)
ISIS is not trying to persuade us to join it. It is trying to make us hate muslims so that ISIS can persuade more people of its propaganda message, an idea that there is a war between the west and muslims. This is nonsense, almost all of ISIS’ victims (worldwide) are muslims. But that is the message they are trying to spread.
Our brains make us scared and panicked. Evolutionary, we respond to threats: for immediate survival, it is good to be scared of everything and very careful. But humans evolved to live in small communities, whereas now, especially with photos and internet, we can see all over the place. We can be tricked into being far more scared than we should be.
Media helps with this, media is always sensationalising to get views and advertising revenue. Media has a long history of not doing what is good for us, whether it is reporting on suicides or rapes or terrorism. I noticed an article by the Independent this morning which said talked about the ‘Fake Explosive Vests’ that attackers wore in it’s headline. Sensationalist media is bad for us: it should report factually and sensitively, not in a way to appeal to our emotions to make us read it.
Terrorism plays into all of this. It wants to do small attacks and have a big impact. Killing even a hundred people would do nothing for a country like the UK. But if it makes us react, the damage we can do to ourselves is far stronger. It can trick us into undermining democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It can trick us into hating people we should not.
Terrorism is like an autoimmunity disease, which makes a body attack itself. It wants us to react by damaging ourselves, by undermining our democratic and human values and, in particular, by hating muslims.
Muslims across the UK condemned the attack in Manchester. They went on marches, they helped victims. The attacker in that case had already been excluded from the mosque he attended and had been reported to police by muslims for his extreme views. Muslims as a whole are not a problem.
Even facebook’s thing of reporting ‘marked safe’ is part of this damaging thing. (I think it’s a useful feature, but getting a notification every single time one of my friends reports themselves as safe is way too much). I think I’m probably more likely to be killed cycling around London than I am in an attack like this.
So. We should not respond with anger or hate, that is what terrorists want us to do and what is bad for us. The wartime propaganda of ‘keep calm and carry on’ is on this point. Political campaigning should NOT stop, political campaigning is us trying to build a better society, and that should not stop because of terrorism. We should remind ourselves what is important, and continue to act positively, with love.
Those who commit such atrocities were not shown enough love. They somehow think that they live in such a horrible world that attacking and killing others and sacrificing their own lives is worth it. If they had more love, more community, the chance is much smaller.
The simplified message is:
Hate divides and destroys us. LOVE IS OUR RESISTANCE.