The Terror of Hatred
It was in work, a normal mundane Wednesday afternoon shift in South Liverpool the usual jobs, the usual people, when a Sky News notification came through – that’s the thing with live media, you can be anywhere in the world and it will find you – “Police are treating killing of man in Woolwich, SE London, as terrorist attack”.
A quick glance hardly aroused an interest – that’s how things are, terrorism is everywhere, worldwide. We’re fighting a war on terrorism, not exactly big news, just another attack… But wait, in LONDON? That’s here, home IN THE UK!
The details start to filter through – a serving soldier leaving his barracks; run down and hacked at with machetes and meat cleavers while his attackers film each other; this is sickening. More details: The killers ordering passers by and witnesses to film and take photos; possible links to extremism; shots fired, 2 men believed to be the offenders taken to separate hospitals treated with gunshot wounds; got them? YES! Rolling news at its best, coming up with a result for the boys in blue.
But what is more important? We don’t at this stage even know the name of the victim. What we do know is that he was innocent; a man walking along the street. It is believed that he was a soldier and we know that he wore a Help for Heroes t-shirt which may have singled him out as a potential target for those responsible. That’s what hits home: This young man supported those wonderful people who freely give up their lives, putting themselves in grave danger to protect the interests of the people in this country.
Upon hearing/seeing some of the details it is truly difficult to understand the mixture of feelings. Shock, horror, disgust, aberration, disappointment, concern, sympathy, sadness; all of these certainly. How about fear? Is it ok to say that? We’re supposed to show these people that we in this country and throughout the western world that we will not stand for terror, for criminality or extremism; are we allowed to be frightened of what is to come of this?
The short answer is yes. Not only that, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to fear the consequences of this attack. This attack was borne out of hate. Whatever motive can be dreamed up, the people responsible believed that they had reason to hate a total stranger. Reports have shown that the men who carried out this attack were vocal about “starting a war in London”. The one thing that will enable this is hate. Hate will cause revenge attacks, which will breed more and more hate, backwards and forwards we will go, as each new attack is revenged on the other side of the fence. Links to extremist groups are being discussed. Other reports suggest the men were self-radicalised by social media and other sources. Whether this is true, or whether any other explanation can be found, will only return the same result: Hate.
Already as I write at 1 in the morning, unable to sleep because of the thoughts running through my mind, I can see more reports: Mosques being attacked; extreme right-wing groups confronting Police and security services; talk of retribution, of revenge, on whom? The mosques did not commit this crime. The police certainly didn’t.
Twitter, Facebook and the whole social media are alive with comments about immigration, religion, race, nationality, politics, government and belief. None of these issues caused this attack. This attack happened because two men hated. What, who or why they hated I can not explain, but they hated enough to commit a brutal atrocity that will be remembered forever.
No doubt more information will come out over the coming days and weeks. We will hear all about how the attackers became educated in extreme beliefs, how they trained to commit murder, and how they wanted to draw attention to their agenda.
So what can we do? The scene is set for these men to win; war in London, hate breeding hate. Can we stop the momentum these men have started?
Time for one more thing: Hope. Britain is great. The nation will not stand for its people being needlessly killed because of somebody’s hatred. This great nation will and must rise up against those people who hate. The police have a saying: “We do not run away from danger, we run towards it”. This must be true of everybody who loves this great country. We cannot allow knee jerk reactions, talk of religion, immigration, race… Great Britain exists because of diversity. Our strength relies on tolerance, harmony and understanding, which has been built over thousands of years.
So what can we hope for? Well, one newspaper reported that following the murder of the young man, a middle aged lady, a mother and Cub Scout leader, confronted the attackers, telling them to stop and drop their weapons, warning them that they would not gain anything. This lady had just witnessed these men brutally murder an innocent man, but feared not for herself. This is an amazing act of bravery and compassion, and gives hope that ordinary people are willing to stand up and fight against those who hate.
Police, security and emergency services give hope. There is a strong affinity between the armed forces and the emergency services. Both often put their lives in danger to protect others. Both often have to act in a professional manner when every fibre of their being is urging them to act otherwise. Today armed police officers had to use their ultimate power – use of lethal force. This was to protect the public in a busy street. To protect themselves against armed killers.
Their actions were carried out in an exemplary manner. The men were immediately given emergency treatment and rushed to hospital. There is every chance these men will survive to face trial for their crime. In contrast, the police officers, paramedics and other emergency personnel who were charged with saving their lives will face a rollercoaster of emotions, questions, actions and interviews. And they will face up and carry on. Tomorrow there may be another incident, another ordeal, another atrocity. They will respond, and they will overcome.
As for me, I am off duty tomorrow. My thoughts and prayers will still be with the family, friends and colleagues of the young man who lost his life, and with those brave professionals who face the challenges of dealing with the aftermath of this incident. Be it the ordeal of being restricted from duty after using lethal force; the ordeal of having to tend to the remains of somebody who was so brutally attacked; or having to deal with the so-called “retribution” attacks, we may rest assured that our emergency services have it covered, and will be running towards any danger that we face.
As for me, I’ve just ironed my Help for Heroes t-shirt…