Every death is a tragedy. Every injury too. Terrorism is deplorable, evil and disgusting. The fact that somebody actually sits down in cold blood and plans ways to kill and mutilate innocent civilians is almost beyond belief. Those people are heartless scum. The act is somehow made worse when it is religiously motivated. For anyone to believe that any god would be pleased that they have mutilated women and children shows some sick thinking. For any religion or sect to believe that it alone has the correct insight into the thinking of god is arrogant stupidity. For any terrorist bomber of innocent people to believe they will be rewarded by any god and wake up in paradise is fanciful brain-washing. No sane god would sanction such a thing. If there was a god, which I do not believe, they would certainly book those callous terrorists into the worst hell imaginable.
Terrorism is horrendous because it is designed to terrorise. It is intended that the fear it creates is out of proportion to the reality. It is designed to produce terror and division.
To that extent Islamic terrorism has succeeded. It has produced widespread fear, division and hate. It has produced racism aimed against the peaceful Muslim community, distrust of Muslims and a rise in fascism and xenophobia. This fear was used extensively in the Brexit and Trump campaigns to divide and create hysteria which could be directed to produce a populist result. We now have what the terrorists set out to produce – chaos and division. Both Brexit and the election of Trump have brought Britain and the US into unnecessary chaos and division, stoked up hatred and emboldened fascist minorities.
I contend that this fear is out of proportion. Terrorism is horrendous but the terror it has produced, resulting in this chaos and siege mentality, is nowhere near as great as it appears in our imagination.
By creating such disruption and public fear the terrorists have achieved what they set out to do. They have made us weaker and divided us. Without this exaggerated fear they generated, neither the harmful disarray of Brexit or damaging election of Trump would have happened. Xenophobia, the fear of immigrants, demonising of Muslims and Mexicans, the building of walls, tightening of immigration laws, exclusion of foreigners, all go against natural warmth of welcome and openness of our culture. We have been fed lies about rape, murder, crime, terrorism, jobs, religions, no-go areas, Islamification and threats to our culture that are out of proportion to the reality. Yes there has been too much mass immigration and not enough integration. Yes there has been some crime, some rapes and areas where there are concentrations of minority groups. But these have been built up out of all proportion. Most immigrants are not extreme or terrorists but are grateful for being given a haven. They have escaped from war, starvation and horror. They have a new start.
Is this response to terrorism justified? I think not.
I am not belittling the effects of terrorism. It is horrendous. I am merely putting it in proportion and saying that it is not as bad as it appears. The horrors in the news show the terrible outcomes but the incidents are relatively few and minor in light of the bigger picture.
Death and injury are unfortunately part of everyday life. People are killed, maimed and become terminally ill all the time. Every one of those deaths, diseases and injuries is a tragedy for individuals, families, friends and colleagues. We are all touched by it. But terrorism plays a tiny part in this overall scheme of things.
I will illustrate what I mean by the statistics from the UK. I chose a 15 year period from 2000 – 2015.
All Deaths in UK (aprox) – 7,500,000
Deaths from road accidents – 51,006
Deaths from murder – 6,750
Deaths from Air crashes (estimate) – 6000
Deaths from terrorism – 90
In fact the deaths from IRA terrorism in the 1980s was much worse. Yet the effect of those terrible 90 deaths (and the hundreds of people maimed and injured) creates a public fear that is out of all proportion. You are 566 times more likely to be killed in an accident on the roads yet we do not get totally paranoid about driving. We accept that as a fact of life, an acceptable risk. Is that because we are under the illusion that we are somehow in control of what happens on the road? As someone who has survived a serious accident I know that we are not. When something happens at speed there is nothing you can do.
Terrorism plays on our psyche because of the deliberate callous act of mass murder. Yet your chances of being caught up in it are minimal.
I believe it is time to put this illogical fear out of our minds. We cannot allow the terrorists to win like this. These brainwashed evil extremists should not be allowed to cause such division, hatred and mayhem. They are not the menace we think they are. It is time to put the threat in proportion. Terrorism’s whole purpose is to achieve this reaction from us. We cannot let them do this.
Don’t let the evil, brainwashed monsters win. Unite and reach out. We’re better together. Let’s build a caring, open society, not a fear-ridden xenophobic culture skulking behind walls.