duminică, 4 iunie 2017

London Bridge Attack

Here's my 2 cents on the London Bridge attack, 14 hours later:

I work a lot around the London Bridge area, I cross Borough Market at least once a week. This attack is outrageous and even the thought of carrying out something like this immediately devalues you from the position of a human being.

7 innocent people have died for nothing and over 50 have been affected. This is incredibly sad and completely unnecessary.

Unfortunately nothing can be done now to reverse the devastating effects of this mindless act of violence, so here's my look at the aftermath:

1. Absolutely fabulous job, once again, by the Police, paramedics and intervention services. The perpetrators were killed within eight minutes of the first emergency call. The police have secured the very busy areas and all pubs, bars and clubs immediately. The area was cordoned off and police appeared on the streets instantly all the way to at least Piccadilly Circus where I was at the moment of the attack. Not only that, but the whilst the police made themselves very visible, they tried to minimize their impact on the daily bustle of the city. They have mostly succeeded. I don't know and don't really want to talk about the politics of funding intervention services, but I'm hoping they get all the resources they need. They seem to be making good use of them.

2. The mood in the night club I was in immediately soured, understandably so. The overall mood in the city soured immediately. Myself, along with a lot of other people, had to take a detour on the way home. Many more people's journeys will be affected today. But, aside from the grief that the victims' families are feeling, this is it. This is the only effect this mindless act had. Ruining a city's mood for half an evening. Terrorism (defined as control of other peoples' acts, thoughts or feelings) has 0 chances of success. Nothing will change in the life of the city. Whatever random act of violence one might conceive, it will not change anything. The people committing these acts are, first and foremost, stupid.

3. There was an immediate jump to associating the act with Islam in a lot of the reactions to the attack, before any details about the perpetrators were known in the media. This is also stupid and does nothing but fertilize the ground for similar acts in the future. UKIP and its mass of voters, the British tabloid media and whoever else lets their prejudices speak for them (and boy, there's a lot of that) are helping and encouraging the people who committed this attack, the previous ones and the future ones. Among the people helping the terrorists are the current UK Prime Minister and the current President of the United States.

4. The perpetrators of last night's attack are NOT Muslims, regardless of the religion they were born in. As of this moment nothing is known in the media about the identities of the three perpetrators. I will speculate that all three of them were British citizens born in Britain. No normal human being can conceive such an act, and even less so a devout of a religion that has peace and obedience as its main message, during a holy period for the respective religion. At the time of the attack, devout Muslims were thinking about Iftar and about waking up early for the morning prayer. Whoever associates Islam with, or equals it to, the terrorist act last night is part of the aforementioned large mass of willing supporters of future similar acts.

5. In trying to understand what pushes someone to commit such an act, best I could come up with is a very unfortunate mix of cultural, social and economic marginalization layered over a degree of poverty and lack of sense and purpose in society and, to spark it all off, the domestic attitude of daring and not caring, made in Britain. I will speculate again that these people were low income individuals with no jobs or low skilled jobs, low educated and with little access to education, probably part of dysfunctional families. Subjected to a stream of more or less overt discrimination and abuse over a period of time. Once you're in that situation you've got the motives. The opportunity comes at a particular bad time in someone's life. Potentially a family fight, being fired from a job or rejected from one. And the means used were the crudest ones. And BANG! that's your recipe for a terrorist act. Thank God access to firearms is so difficult in Britain, there would be a lot more victims of these random acts if you could buy automatic guns over the counter, like you do in the United States. Driving the car into people is the poor terrorist's mass shooting. And, if it wasn't for the tragic of the situation, the mock-up suicide vests improvised out of beer cans would be ridiculous.

6. My thoughts go to the victims, but also to my Muslim friends who will now be subjected to even more abuse. They too, are indirect victims of this.

7. Is there anything we can do to prevent future acts like this? I believe there's lots, but there is no quick fix. Any solution will be complex and take time. But here's a few steps I believe can take us towards a safer and more peaceful society: increase social integration; discourage the xenophobic discourse in the media and in society; increase the efficiency of social protection mechanisms by cutting abuses and increasing provisions for the more needy; use legal means to further discourage violence. And most importantly, educate people. As a government, do your best to have your citizens well educated, well fed and welcoming. In other words, eliminate as many ingredients from the destructive mix mentioned at point 5. Discourage your media from promoting xenophobia; discourage your Foreign Secretary from promoting isolationism; discourage your prime minister from promoting economic elitism. Discourage your citizens from voting against themselves.

Does it look like I'm campaigning? I don't think I'm campaigning. I just think this government is an accomplice to last night's attack. A willing accomplice, no less.