What do you think are the most important things we (as a society) should learn from the recent murder in Woolwich and subsequent media reaction?

2 Answers

Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered

One thing I think the whole tragedy has highlighted is that the word "terrorism" has really cemented itself in our society and political consciousness.

What I find interesting is how quickly the media jumped to use the word "terrorism".

Yes, the crime was committed for religious or political purposes, and was designed to create fear - and as such should be defined as terrorism. But I do wonder how much the perpetrators' ethnic background and religion had to do with the reporting of the incident.

Straight after the incident, there were several attacks on mosques and Islamic centres around the country. One of them involved masked men throwing petrol bombs at a building.

It could be argued that these acts were politically and religiously motivated, involved the word "bombing", and were designed to cause fear and distress amongst the Muslim community.

However, when the men involved were arrested three days later, they didn't make any major headlines and were charged with arson, not terrorism.

Psychos and extremists can be found in every single demographic.

I think using the word 'terrorist' and applying terrorism laws only when the offender is an Islamic extremist smacks of hypocrisy and only goes to serve the political purposes of those masterminding the attacks.

2 People thanked the writer.
Sarah G.
Sarah G. commented
I completely agree. I thought the same thing about the Boston bombing when they started throwing the word 'terrorism' around. I think it's wise to be wary of the motives behind the media.
Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson commented
I completely agree Kass. The backlash attackers were trying to terrorise Muslims in return, not attack individuals; if that's not terrorism then we should not be using the word at all. It would be more helpful to call all such attacks the crimes that they are, and not assign the 'terrorist' badge of honour to perpetrators. Of course that would reduce media news ratings and reduce opportunities for grandstanding politicians, so it's not going to happen...
Paul Wilson Profile
Paul Wilson answered

It could be argued
there shouldn't be anything to learn
from the Woolwich murder that we don't know already. Justification
and roots are familiar, and despite the visible horror, it still
represents a incredibly rare event event in the West (thanks in part
to significant ongoing efforts to identify and monitor the
radicalised). However, all events of this nature have unique
characteristics that have the potential to increase understanding,
and even the commonality with other attacks may reinforce other
messages. It is not clear that either of these effects will
significantly impact the political process or media response though,
as these are driven by more powerful political trends and human
nature.

So
what is different about this one?

  • It
    seemed carefully calculated to expose the maximum audience to the
    sort of gruesome horror that is commonplace in the lands the
    perpetrators identify with, through timing, location, and hence
    opportunity to film and distribute. This could represent a new
    sophistication in media manipulation, sending powerful messages to
    both the faithful and those to be terrorised. The brave and virtuous
    actions of the cub scout leader, also seen by all, will go some way
    to counter this.


  • Unlike
    the Boston bombers who were keen to escape, or suicide bombers who
    also remove themselves from the consequences, the killers here
    deliberately hung around to be seen confronting the police, and to
    be as visible as possible. There is little doubt that they believed
    they were righting a wrong, and articulated the message clearly and
    persistently. This will have a powerful effect on those who doubted
    the bravery of previous attackers, and can only help indoctrinate
    more of the disaffected. The success of the police in avoiding
    turning them into martyrs has blunted the impact though.

And
what does it have in common with the rest?

  • There
    is nothing new about the radicalisation of Muslims by
    fundamentalists. This can only increase now they have a real chance
    of power, following the Arab Spring and the withdrawal of Western
    forces from the region. Large Muslim populations have always left
    the West vulnerable to the backlash against post-imperial cold war
    dictators, Zionism and constant interference in the region.


  • Once
    again, Londoners refused to be terrorised, and will absorb the
    tragedy and carry on. And, as always, the same cannot be said for
    right-wing organisations, opportunistic press and politicians, and
    bigoted bar-flies.

What
we should learn is that present domestic policy is working as well as
can be expected, but constant vigilance is required by all -
monitoring right-wing organisations and informal militias as well as
Muslim indoctrination. Reaching out to young Muslims with work and
education is also crucial to minimise disaffection and
radicalisation.

And
no censorship please...

Answer Question

Anonymous