In what is becoming a frighteningly common occurrence, there has been another terrorist attack in London recently. Thankfully, on this occasion nobody was killed, but there were still injuries and the attacker’s intentions, it appears, were to cause dozens of fatalities.
However, the responses to the attack mirror very closely the same responses of all previous attacks. Nevertheless, many are starting to question how appropriate they are. And rightly so. Something I do like is messages of solidarity in the face of the threats, particularly the messages given to the terrorists by the London underground about their inability to shake British perseverance. This is of course the correct attitude to have in my opinion, but it takes more than an attitude to terrorism to actually prevent it. Much like we continue to persevere, they will continue to try and kill us. Nothing is going to change that any time soon. We mustn’t lose hope, but we must always be adequately prepared.
The government’s latest response seems to be much the same as many previous responses. Deploy armed police and troops. I don’t agree with this policy for a number of reasons. Firstly, my own observations of the move seem to show these police arriving in huge numbers immediately following an attack, but their numbers have vastly diminished by the time the next one happens. And anyway, I think even terrorists who can’t make bombs that go off properly are capable of deciding that if there’s loads of armed police and soldier about, they’ll put their bomb on a bus. Or a cross country train. Or in the underground of another city. Unless they’re literally everywhere, all the time then there’s really nothing they can do. So what’s the point? 12 people were killed by two motorway crashes recently. Indeed, at around 3,000 a year, road traffic is still the biggest killer, save for natural causes. If police commissioners are serious about “saving lives” they’d be better off deploying more officers to patrol the highways and stamping out reckless driving instead of mulling about the scenes after a terror attack.
To really prevent terrorist attacks, it must not come to this point in the first place. Now, even with the rise of knife-wielding, van-driving terrorists, the biggest potential killers are still bombers. So why make it easier for them with websites on how to bombs on the internet. Perhaps this is where we need to start looking to address the problem more realistically. Google and Facebook are essentially becoming hotbeds of terrorist activity. Already coming under scrutiny for the spreading of ‘fake news,’ this is an area in which the internet should perhaps be policed as well. Yes, free speech is important, but we must be realistic. All other media are subject to controls. Why shouldn’t the internet be? And I am all for free speech. I don’t for example, agree with the recent sacking of a journalist by his editor after people were outraged at opinions he professed in a certain article. I didn’t agree with the opinions, but I think everyone should be able to state whatever opinion they like. If, however, the journalist in question had somehow been able to publish detailed instructions as to how to build a bomb, I would fully understand his sacking. And that of the editor for allowing it!
Previously, facebook’s response to terrorism has been the offering of users to update their profile picture with a flag in the background of whatever country was recently affected. I shamefully admit I did this once, as a friend of mine recently pointed out that it does nobody no good whatsoever. Yes of course the dead should be in your thoughts, but perseverance and prevention are what is going to stop terrorists, not thoughts and prayers. And of thoughts and prayers is all you’re going to offer, then you aren’t much help, especially when you have a responsibility. Even Theresa May has made this point recently. I think these internet giants are really starting to feel the criticism now, and the sooner they do something about it the better.