Another terrorist attack in London. The third one in the England this year. Needless to say that this is horrible for the few individuals who, against the odds, actually got caught up in it. They really were very unlucky. Terrorism looks big on TV, but even in a year like this, it is in reality an extremely small problem. There are plenty of everyday risks that are far more likely to kill you compared to terrorist. This includes things like a normal car accident, or a simple flu. The latter literally kills several hundred times more people every year. Yet we do not get freaked out about it. We don’t lock down the city and mark ourself as save on Facebook just because someone sneezed. Thank god we don’t.
But the human mind is not that rational. Terrorists deliberately, and senselessly murdering innocent people gets the emotions going far beyond a casualty of a car accident or a flu death. And whenever emotions take over, facts like the de facto unlikeliness of being killed by a terrorist fade into the dark. So what to do against terror?
As I am writing this, the background of the attackers is not clear. But let me take a guess, based on what we know about most of the other attacks we have seen in Europe recently. They are likely second generation immigrants, with some criminal history. They feel hostile to the society they live in, and as a consequence discover that there is a movement within Islam that justifies massacring random, innocent people. And it is most likely the preaching of violence which motivated them to join the Islamists, and become terrorists.
One of the most important things to do therefore is to not pay them too much attention. This is what they crave. They are after their 15 min of fame, and their place in the history books. But they are ordinary criminals, desperate to give their pathetic lives at least some meaning. We should forget about them, and pay them as little attention as possible.
When someone decides to kill innocent people with very simple means, there is really very little anyone can do about it. There is no need to pretend otherwise. These terrorist events are an embarrassment for the state. The government keeps telling us that we need to give up our liberties so that they can protect us. The UK government in particular is world champion in surveillance. It openly stores all our activities online, listens to our phone calls, stores all the places we have visited via meta data, and now even prohibits us from using any form of encryption. Yet despite that, they did not see any of these terrorist events coming. Sure, they assure us that they have prevented many more. But what is the evidence for that? The fact that we have seen three terrorist events this year makes it more likely that the absence of terror in the years before was probably more due to the fact that there aren’t that many terrorists out there. It was not because the government kept us save.
But admitting incompetence is never an option for governments. Government is a civil religion. It lives on making people believe that it has some super powers to solve problems. Apparently, it can prevent us from becoming poor or ill, and save us from accidents, crimes and terrorism. In reality of course the government cannot do any of these things. Far from it, in many instance it makes things worse, or even outright cause the problem. But it need to keep up the illusion that it is the ultimate problem solving tool. Otherwise people would abandon it.
That is why, we are currently seeing an impressive show being put on in the streets of London. Heavily armed police is invading all kinds of homes, and screaming at people in the streets. It looks like a desperate attempt to make it look like they are in charge of the situation. But you see, ‘enough is enough’ Theresa May said today. Wait, does that mean that before yesterday it was not enough for you Theresa? But let us not encourage her to do more, when the last strategy is already a disaster.
Unfortunately, it is too late for that. May in the same speech went on to announce that she is now going to really clamp down on the internet, ignoring that the government is already monitoring everything. Now, according to her, freedom of speech itself needs to be even more infringed upon. Sounds like more of the same to me. We give up our liberties, and when that does not work than that is just because too much freedom is still left.
That way we end up in a dictatorial state of martial law. And quite frankly, this is not in some distant future. We are pretty much there already. The government has even taken away our ability to freely speak about the problems. That would include pointing fingers at certain ideas. It also involves pointing out that not all people and believes are the same. Whoever tries to do that however, risks being charged with hate speech. I hope Miss May will get a big slap in the face for her authoritarianism on election day this week.
No, the state won’t save us from terrorism. If anything they will make it worse. It is this massive police presence that gives the attackers a lot more importance than they deserve. And let me not get started on why we now have this kind of terrorism in the first place. The UK state in particular has a lot to do with motivating these people.
When someone attacks you in the street, the best thing you can hope for is to have the means to defend yourself. With the increase of the UK police state however, this valuable option has long been taken away from us. That is why, this time, people were literally trying to defend themselves with chairs against terrorists. But we better don’t use chairs for fighting too often, otherwise the government might start to license them too.