London 22.3.17

Yesterday was the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, which killed more than 30 people. I posted about that a year ago today, in From A Distance. In that post I said “Attacks like this strike at the heart of our society. London is now on heightened alert and must be a strong candidate for an atrocity such as this.” A year on, and I’m saddened that those words have been proved prophetic. I’ve also posted previously about terrorist attacks in Paris, and it would feel remiss of me not to do so for my own capital city. This post will draw on some of those posts, so you may recognise some of my words – I make no apology for that, as I believe I was right to say them then, and that hasn’t changed.

For most of my 38 years of employment I worked in London. It is my ‘go to’ place for sporting and cultural events. Whilst I’m not a Londoner by birth, I feel it to be ‘my city,’ and am horrified at what happened there yesterday. At the time of writing the full details have not been made public, for understandable reasons. What is known is that a lone attacker hired a 4×4 car – a large, heavy vehicle – in Birmingham, drove it to London and across Westminster Bridge. He did this at speed, deliberately taking indiscriminate aim at pedestrians, two of whom died and 40 more are now in hospital, several of them critically ill. He then crashed into the gates outside the Houses of Parliament, got out of the car and ran towards Parliament, knifed an unarmed policeman to death, before being shot dead by an armed officer. Those of you outside the UK may think it strange that our police forces are not all armed: for us, it is a symbol of our peaceful democracy that they aren’t, although we do have armed officers where necessary. Death by violent crime is much less prevalent here, which is what makes yesterday all the more shocking for us.

I first began working in London in 1975, at the time of the IRA bombing campaign. I worked in a government building which was classified as being at high risk of an attack, so I was made very aware of what terrorism could mean for us. I was working in Central London in 2005 at the time of the 7/7 bombings, only about half a mile from Edgware Road station, where one of the bombs was detonated. The eerie silence, broken only by sirens, that descended over London that day is something I’ve never forgotten. Watching the television yesterday afternoon, as events unfolded, seemed all too familiar. The reality is that, behind the scenes, our security forces are working very hard to protect us from such atrocities, and we know that there would have been more of them without their work.

On previous occasions I have asked one simple question: why? I cannot begin to understand what these people think they are trying to achieve. Do they want to destroy our way of life so that they can impose theirs? Do they really think that killing and maiming innocent people will achieve this? The fanaticism innate to such beliefs is way beyond my comprehension. And it makes me angry. My two daughters both live in London and I don’t see why I should fear for their safety as they go about their daily lives. What have they or the people killed yesterday ever done to deserve to live in fear of such an attack which will, in the end, achieve nothing except murder and slaughter on a large scale? It is inconceivable that terrorism will ever win, but these fanatical, cowardly, murdering lunatics are incapable of understanding that. Such terrorism and acts of war, allegedly in the name of religion, have been a part of history going back way before the Crusades, so it would be naive to believe that they will ever stop.

The phrase “Man’s inhumanity to man” is first documented in the Robert Burns poem Man was made to mourn: A Dirge in 1784, although it is likely that he reworded a similar quote from Samuel von Pufendorf, who in 1673 wrote, “More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.” Nearly 350 years after von Pufendorf that lesson has not been heeded, and is still so true. Man is still doing so much harm to man, and the utter horror and futility of this leaves me deeply saddened.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by yesterday’s atrocity: I just wish that no one else would ever be touched in this way again. But I don’t think that is a realistic wish, sadly. Despite that, and however many times people do things like this, there must be one abiding message: you will never win, democracy will never bow to your perverted minds.

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15 thoughts on “London 22.3.17

  1. Jumped over from the Senior Salon
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    I stopped visiting the links page after Wednesday because I thought the Salon closed at the end of the day. I went back only to grab a link – and saw your name among several who posted later.

    It is cruelly ironic to read this post today, since a nightclub in Cincinnati, where I am currently living, was riddled with gunfire only last night: one dead, several hanging on by a thread among 15 badly wounded.

    It was not what most would define as “a terrorist attack” – but aren’t all actions that end in bloodshed terrorist at their base? I can only echo your question, “WHY?”

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Bernadette leaves the Salon open for about 5 days each week – it’s always worth a later visit!

      I heard about Cincinnati and it sounds awful. Yes, there’s an element of terrorist behaviour in incidents like that but I note that local police say it isn’t part of their thinking. To those of us outside the USA it seems to be yet another tragic incident caused by your gun laws – as was Orlando and countless others. Over 11,000 Americans are killed each year like this – that is such a waste of life. A different kind of ‘why’ from terrorism, maybe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t believe police are suspecting actual terrorism – more like a gang fight that got out of hand (not a gay bar/hate crime like Orlando). Apparently they got the guns in despite wanding, etc. I don’t know the club, but it’s on the East Side (which many here tend to avoid, btw) – and it didn’t look exactly upscale from what I could see from the background behind the interviews with police, etc.

        No excuse for our gun laws – but 2nd Amendment voters (right to bare arms – private militia) helped put the idiot-in-charge in office, so what does THAT tell you?

        Thanks for the info re: Salon. I guess I’ve been missing quite a few until now. And here I was SO proud of myself for making the rounds. 😦

        Stay safe.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Those of us outside the US despair at the stupidity of your gun laws, but I know there’s a very strong lobby for them and the NRA carries a lot of weight. That the idiots who support the laws are those who voted in the orange Russian puppet plays to every anti-American stereotype there is! It’s going to end badly, I fear. Bigly badly.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lucky you that you’re not stuck living here WITH them! Not all
        American’s support our gun laws, btw – but the ones who do are vocal, organized and funded – the latter of which is most important to politicians looking for campaign funding (tit for tat – otherwise referred to a corruption!)
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Every word you write is in the nose. What happened yesterday is unthinkable, despicable and the worst thing is it will keep in happening. I am seldom lost for ideas not words but today I feel drained of both. X

    Liked by 2 people

      • One response is ‘they would, wouldn’t they’. The other is one way or another they will keep doing these despicable things and although I do believe the car and mouse being played by the security forces is mostly on the side of the cat, the mice are determined vermin and hard to keep track of. When we are dealing with people who believe that dying in the name of their half baked beliefs is an honour and the gateway to paradise, it is Bluddy hard to find a deterrent. Stay strong. xx

        Liked by 2 people

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