I am getting fed up with ‘terror’ attacks. They don’t shock me anymore. I shrug them off. And I switch them off if I see them on TV or hear about them on the radio. I am no longer interested. And I’m not the only one. I was at several social gatherings after the Nice attack and at work, and, in stark contrast to the Paris attack, there was barely a mention.
I feel sorry for the victims, but in the same way I do when I hear about an earthquake, a flood, a cyclone or a mudslide. Terrorism, for me, has become a natural disaster, something that occurs randomly, can hit anywhere at any time and is not worth worrying about. And besides, statistically, in the western world at least, I am in far more danger of death every time I walk into my bathroom and risk slipping on the floor.
I think my attitude has changed because the glamour of terrorism has worn off. All the TV coverage, the breathless hype and the governmental and media elevation of groups and individuals, essentially anarchists and murderers, into superstars is no longer doing it for me. It’s too much. I’ve OD’d. Terrorism has reached its use-by date.
Terror has become an industry. It fuels TV stations and allows them to sensationalise the latest attack for days on end, wheeling out experts who know nothing, showing endless footage of blood on the streets, police standing around aimlessly and reporters getting in the way of everyone while they ask people how they feel and describe a city in shock and/or in lockdown (whatever that means). You get the strong feeling that newsrooms around the world erupt each time there is a major terror attack in the same way NASA scientists do when their latest space vehicle hits its target millions of miles out in space.
Governments love terrorist attacks even more. They are wonderful diversions from the everyday problems in their countries that they incapable of solving. A good bombing allows leaders to look statesman-like as they condemn the attack, declare war on the terrorists, vow the perpetrators will be hunted down and other huff-and-puff meaningless statements. It allows them to stride around their countries, shaking hands with police chiefs, comforting victims and staring gravely down at the patch of ground on which the attack took place. They promise vengeance and tell people they must stick together and not be cowed. They don’t actually do anything, because they are actually powerless, but it looks good on camera.
Terrorism is also a cash cow for security companies, the police and the military. There is always money for war, even one that doesn’t really exist.
The terrorists, even though they are providing these benefits, are not blameless. They have done little to support all the free PR they receive from the media and governments. They are unable to articulate why they are attacking easy targets, or explain what their goals are. They ramble on about their God being great – the same God worshipped by Jews and Christians, ironically – and how wicked the west is and other such nonsense. But it’s not convincing. It reminds me of myself, going to confession as a child and having to make up sins because I was such a goody two shoes.
The reality is that terrorists have got nothing. No reason. No plan. No point. Even Islamic State, a very ambitious slice of wishful thinking, is nothing more than a ragged army of criminals and misfits who wander around the desert killing, raping and cowering behind hostages in towns as they wait to be kicked out. Even if they succeeded in setting up their sorry State, you know that five minutes later they would turn on each other.
In short, they have painted themselves into a corner. They are launching terror attacks in the west as though they are a contractual obligation, not because they will accomplish anything. It’s like they would feel bad if they didn’t shoot up a major city every few months. Terrorists not terrorising isn’t a good look.
But they have only themselves to blame. They have overdone it. London and Madrid bounced back. Paris bounced back a couple of times. New York shrugged off 9/11 over time and Nice will be nice again. People are more resilient than terrorists and more realistic than governments and the media. They get on with their lives. They mourn, they rebuild and they carry on. Just like after a natural disaster.
I feel – hope – that terrorism is in decline and perhaps governments and the media, so crucial to terror’s ‘success’ could adopt a few simple amendments to their policies and coverage of terrorism. A good start would be to remove the word terrorist from their vocabularies and call them what they really are, murderers. And treat attacks like crime stories, not as circus spectaculars. A murder is a murder, no matter how you dress it up. Stop treating major disasters as entertainment.
And governments. Recognise that you can’t stop these attacks and stop encouraging them by inflating their importance. Declare the War of Terror over. All it ever did was legitimise criminal gangs, anyway. Treat an attack like an Act of God, rather than echoing the nonsense that it was inspired by one. The perpetrators might finally realise the futility of their actions.
If you have to resort to military action, can I suggest a War on Bathrooms? That might actually save lives.
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