I think the world changed slightly last week, when Lee Rigby, a young UK soldier was hacked to death in broad daylight on a London street. My world certainly did. It has thrown some interesting light on various factions in society and made me contemplate a lot about the country I have left behind, as well as the world at large which we inhabit.
Firstly I should point out that I broadly disagree with the fact that this brutal, barbaric and utterly terrifying incident was a ‘terrorist attack’. The use of language is interesting. When the UK government decides something is ‘terrorism’ then it frames an incident very differently than if it is just a random, unhinged attack by a couple of radicalised nutjobs. That is not to say that I do not think the perpetrators were extremists – they clearly were – but the two things can be, in my opinion, mutually exclusive.
To my mind a ‘terrorist attack’ involves a synchronized, large scale, meticulously planned event. I am thinking on the scale of 9/11, the 7/7 bombings in London, Madrid 2004. These were clearly all designed to deliver a particular message at a particular time. The two cretins who butchered a man in Woolwich last week may have been similarly motivated but by comparison their methods were amateur bordering on insane. Which I believe they, clinically, were.
Russell Brand wrote a piece which is very much in tune with my thinking on this subject, opining that the individuals involved were clearly severely mentally ill and deserve our pity for that. If they had really been ‘terrorists’ then surely they would have sought to die during their ‘attack’, as is fairly standard in such things. They did not die for their cause, or maybe they under/overestimated the British police who did not shoot to kill. Yes they had a ‘message’ but it seems to me pretty clear that they were not sent by a ‘terror group’ to carry out their ‘attack’ – they were just doing so off their own backs.
Surely we need to be asking some questions about how and why young men who grew up and were University educated in the UK became so disenfranchised with society that they were able to carry out such an act? That has got bollocks all to do with their race, religion or which football team they support – it is a comment on their socio-economic status and influences alone.
What terrifies me the most in the wake of this tragic incident is not the fact that it could have been me or someone I love wearing a Help For Heroes shirt, walking near a barracks, looking like they might serve in the Armed Forces. It is not that it could happen again (human nature and the world we live in, sadly, says it certainly will in some variant or another). The thing that scares me most is that fear, dripped into the minds of the British people (such as by labelling it a terrorist attack), provokes the ugliest and stupidest of responses in a worrying number of them.
Unfortunately the most stupid sections of society don’t tend to be too keen on listening to reason. They don’t generally read much or care about politics or dare to learn anything about other people than what dumb stereotypes can tell them. Which means they have no tools with which to decipher what they are being told other than to put together 2+2 and equal 67 (Our nation is under attack by Muslamists! – I so wish this was a word I had never encountered). The education and upbringing of these people should really be addressed as a priority because in a country like the UK where we (wonderfully) have freedom of speech, these nasty little bastards can spout their bile all too easily. It is 2013 folks – that these idiots are still in existence is beyond belief.
The Stupids (as I shall call them henceforth) also fail to realise when they are being played. By this, I mean when the slightly cleverer but highly ugly-on-the-inside morons who lead them (see Nick Griffin, Tommy Robinson et al) corale them into sheep-like behaviour, denouncing, quite irrationally, an entire religion and/or race (the Stupids generally struggle to separate the two). On this side of the fence language also plays a powerful part – things are irrationally labelled ‘anti-British’ and hilarious, nonsensical, unfounded claims are made (they want to us to adopt Sharia law!) which feed into the fear driven, hate riddled mindset of the Stupids and perpetrate further panic, knee jerk hatred and vile racism.
There is also a more worrying group than this. Not quite idiotic enough to be in with the Stupids, they are clever enough to realise that out and out racism is deeply unattractive, but at their core still harbour a rotten, stinking, detestable streak of discrimination which they simply are not quite smart enough to hide. Unlike the Stupids they are not so obvious in everyday life but if you inhabit the increasingly ridiculous world of Facebook you can’t miss them.
These are the people that start conversations with “I am not being racist but…” which should always be immediately translated into “I am being a huge nasty racist and…” for more accurate context. They are the people who circulate those emails which blather on about how Britain is becoming too determined to placate the minorities and is losing its identity as a result, usually filled with claptrap which has been circulated a million times before like ‘the word Christmas will be banned for fear of offending other religions’ (doubly ironic how most of these numpties suddenly care about being a Christian at this point when they mostly only enter a church for a wedding or funeral).
They set up Facebook pages saying things like ‘PROUD TO BE BRITISH’ which is a noble sentiment I grant you – but what you can bet is that within seconds of said page going live it will be brim full of icky nastiness from fellow ‘stealth’ racists spouting thinly veiled bigotry about how ‘they’ should all adapt to our culture if they want to live here etc. Ironically, the effect of such ‘proud to be British’ pages generally has the directly opposite effect on me. Sure the odd well-meaning, genuinely NOT racist person may choose to ‘like’ the page or submit a generic comment supporting the sentiment. But they will be massively outnumbered by the stealth shitheads operating under the disguise of being ‘patriotic’.
Increasingly irritating are the attempts to manipulate people into liking/commenting on such pages. The moment people start sharing those sorts of things (they generally start with the words ‘Share if’ and end with a statement which makes me do a facepalm – ie ‘you are proud to be British’, ‘you support our soldiers’, ‘you hate cancer’.) then I utilise the ‘hide’ function of facebook immediately. It’s like - no, really?? You mean if I don’t like or share this it means I am not proud to be British/do not support our soldiers/love cancer? Blimey, well I better just shoot myself now because I want my facebook to actually be interesting/useful and not cluttered with this utterly moronic bullshit.
Anyway…I am going off the track….
Lee Rigby was killed by two nutjobs, one of whom was tortured in Kenya and harassed by MI5. Yes, the pair seem to have been radicalised by some extreme clerics but we should also be asking what in our society drove them to feel that this was the only way to respond? Questions also clearly need to be asked about why, if they were on the radar of UK security services, they were not prevented from getting to the point of carrying out such an atrocity.
Those are the questions which need answering at a surface level as a direct result of this particular incident.
At a deeper level, we surely need to start tackling the inherent and ugly face of the Stupids and the Stealths. The former group should, in my opinion, be tackled with as much gusto as any potential ‘terrorists’ would. These nutjobs breed more of the same and are not conducive to a progressive society. They make me ashamed to be British and the more they are allowed to bang their filthy, disgusting, racist drums the more appalled I am.
Within my personal facebook ‘friends’ there are more ‘stealths’ than I can ever be comfortable with and the Woolwich incident made them all come trundling out of the woodwork. The sad thing is that some of them genuinely seem to not want to be seen as such and would like to believe they are not. But they do utterly stoopid things and are careless about what they choose to ‘share’ and ‘like’ and I shake my head in despair at their lack of awareness when using social media tools to convey who they are and what they stand for. Thankfully, now I am 10,000 miles away, deleting people just got a whole lot easier.
As someone who has recently made the jump and moved to Australia, where racism is worryingly rife (it is one of the only negatives of living in this beautiful country) I was actually proud to be British because of our wonderfully multi-cultural society and progressive attitude to the same. Until last week. I feel like I can no longer feel proud to be British based on the reactions of the idiotic factions who were illuminated so crudely in the wake of the Woolwich murder.
And one more thing.
If I see one more circulation on email or facebook claiming that Julia Gillard (the Australian PM) has ‘made a stand against immigration’ then I think my head will explode. This is a grimy little lie and a twisting of facts to make it look like she basically said ‘migrants must adapt to our culture and not the other way around’. It is generally circulated by the stealths – as a poorly disguised vindication of their own beliefs, and it is completely and utterly untrue.
Please just do a bit of research before being conned into sharing something which is both ugly and incorrect. Question things. Google it for christ’s sake.
Australia has a tough immigration policy – I know because we just navigated it and it took us 12 months of admin, forms, background checks, references and hoop jumping, plus the small matter of £3k. I am now an immigrant here. Unlike the UK, Australia has particularly robust borders and it means that clever UK based ‘Stealths’ think it should be emulated at home (which would be largely impossible due to EU membership). That is why utter bullshit like the Julia Gillard story perpetually circulates. Don’t get conned into continuing the cycle of nonsense.
The saddest thing to my mind from this whole, ridiculous reaction to Lee Rigby’s death is that the actual murder has been overshadowed by the misplaced anger and hatred that followed it. I live in hope that one day the world will be a more balanced and tolerant place.