Update: Another Night, Another Horror
You start to think that each day when nothing bad happens is a good day. Last night I was talking to my partner and friends who had been out for meals, and it had been a lovely early summer evening, partly because nothing bad had happened.
That was before 10pm, when three men rampaged through one of the busiest areas of central London and killed seven (so far – the body count is at this moment expected to climb, with many injured).
But what is our response to these attacks meant to be? Keep calm and carry on? How do you tackle homegrown radicals attacking independently without any real organisation and only a sense of grievance? When extremists are reduced to using knives and cars, we know they’re amateurs – but amateurs can still cause terrible damage.
When you start breaking down the stats of the years since the King’s Cross 7/7 bombings, one thing jumps out. All were terrorist converts, not born extremists, and several had established mental problems, from Asperger’s to schizophrenia.
That’s why it’s impossible for us to understand the mindset of someone who would kill children and sacrifice themselves for no real purpose, because the attacks achieve nothing at all.
One of the most disturbing aspects is the lack of consensus at the top level on what to do in the immediate term about the problem. Having embraced multiculturalism, are we now to follow Donald Trump and dismantle it? Surely that will only make things worse?
With an election in the offing and a disastrous exit from Europe barely planned, we’re left with the thought of our negotiators being Theresa May, famously a politician one uses as a load-and-point sniper on specific issues but not a forward-thinking strategist, and Jeremy Corbyn, a backward-looking career apologist who cannot remain stable on a single issue. Nobody else is in the running.
This is not war but a series of uncoordinated copycat crimes, ideas taken up from Nice and Paris, all originally stemming from 9/11 and the discontent leading up to it, an expression of contempt rather than a plan of action. One can’t help feeling that the roots of anger are little different from those of high school snipers.
And so we go on, helplessly accepting that this will not change anything, adopting a stoicism that can only allow us to shrug and say ‘How awful’.