The attacks in London come on the heels of the Manchester attack last month and the attacks at Westminster in March. If there was any doubt till now, it can be laid to rest: terrorists have upped the ante. They are plumbing new depths of depravity by targeting softer targets more indiscriminately.
The moniker of psychopathy is inadequate to describe such insensate violence. One is tempted to use the word “evil” because only that word seems to encapsulate the mechanism that creates such actions.
The problem is, once we have appointed “evil” as the motivator we have started to lose objectivity and focus. We have commenced on a need to avenge our wounds and vanquish the wickedness that caused them.
This is where we must stop ourselves from falling into the trap that social and mass media have prepared for us. Resist the urge to slide into the pit of echo chambers that has become modern public discourse.
For that is indeed what we have become. Look no further than social media in the aftermath of the Manchester tragedy. The orgy of hatred and finger-pointing began long before Daesh claimed responsibility or police revealed the name of the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi.
Not to say that such acts do not elicit fear, indignation and outright rage. We are emotional beings and it is impossible for us to not have powerful, often overwhelming feelings in response to such horror. Accepting those feelings is a necessary part of processing them and preventing them from clouding our judgment.
But beyond that, we will stay stuck in a war of words unless we exhibit a modicum of good sense and pursue the problem of terrorism as it should be pursued-with clear objectives and factual evidence guiding our efforts. That is not what we have been doing, not by a long shot.
What is happening on social media right now―and yes social media is very much the primary vessel of public discourse of our times―is exactly the same thing that happens after every terrorist attack. Everyone doubles down on the gimmickry that passes for social media activism. The reductive, unsubstantiated rhetoric flows: it’s all Islam, it’s all foreign policy, it’s a false flag―and so on and so forth.
Stop it, get off of the frenzied media-spun hamster wheel. Stop and let’s take it from the top:
More innocents were trampled on by terrorists in London. More death and more wounds to scar more undeserving people who were just trying to live their lives.
The conclusion is forced upon us; these are killings neither random nor senseless. The setting of London Bridge itself has a monstrous symbolism: someone is trying to draw the battle lines.
Someone is trying to turn the scattered fires into one devouring inferno. These are not just murders―these are political acts with specific political aims. The possessed pawns who carry these acts out are only the detritus of the bigger game. There is a mind behind this and an ambition.
The growing dissension within societies and within global leadership are the portals through which this pestilence spreads. We are divided and divided we will ourselves become the instruments of our misery.
Multiple wars, multiple fronts, the intelligence of every major power in the world involved in seeking out the mechanism of this hydra. Yet it stalks with impunity and it kills at will.
Unless the world puts aside realpolitik and unites with honesty, this horror show will continue. Unless we stop our bickering and demand an empirical pursuit of the causes and perpetrators of terrorism we will find ourselves ever more impotent and unsafe.
And at some point the Beast will get what it wants: chaos. The chaos necessary to convince the world that global, civilizational war is necessary.