‘Terrorism’ and the Woolwich Attack

Yesterday (22/05/13) a British soldier was hit by a car and then brutally and aggressively murdered by the people who had run him over with what looks like a meat cleaver in Woolwich, London. The men who killed him asked people to film the incident and did not make any attempt to run, but simply bided their time before the police and back-up could arrive. On the film, the man is heard to say “Allahu Akbar” which instantly led the case to be considered and publicised as a terrorist attack.

Woolwich attack, suspect on street

Now, I am not going to pretend that I am an expert on politics or religion, or foreign policy or that I even have a detailed understanding of the relationship that Islamic countries have with the West. But I was horrified that people jumped to the conclusion that this death was a terrorist attack. The man on the video said that God is Great. The video also shows him saying:

“We swear by Almighty Allah, we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. The only reasons we killed this man is because Muslims are dying daily. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We apologize that woman had to see this today, but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.”

But how can you define terrorism?  The brutal decapitation of a civilian in Woolwich by a couple of men or the brutal killing of civilians in an Islamic country by the West? It just seems to me that “Terrorist Attack” is thrown around a lot, and almost acts as a propaganda weapon. The means to which the West think that all Muslims are plotting to destroy the West and what it stands for.

Bollocks.

Granted there have been horrific and devastating events around the world caused by terrorism, the UK, the IRA nationalists, the US, in the name of democracy, communism, fascism. They are all the same. Terrorism seems to be an umbrella term for most kinds of violence, which has in more recent years transformed to represent just the ones caused by Muslims. An article published on the Guardian asked the same question about defining terrorism and suggested that one answer could be “any act of violence designed to achieve political change.” If people are still insistent on using the term terrorism then it should be broadened out to include the West, because what the EDL did to the Mosques in Woolwich in response to the attack is surely terrorism too? Surely the government should also think about increasing security around Mosques and not just the Barracks if disgusting reactionary events like this continue? The Islamic community have said that they have nothing to do with this incident and that they hope it won’t detriment their livelihood in Britain.

EDL

What I found even worse was the reaction that it provoked across the country. Nick Griffin would have been proud with some of the responses the death caused. Facebook statuses claiming that it was all because the country has let too many immigrants in and that they should be sent ‘back to where they came from’ if they can’t learn how to ‘belong’ in our country. Honestly, if you go around posting statuses like that then you clearly don’t belong in this country because last time I checked it was pretty cosmopolitan. The recent census data shows how the demographics of London have changed recently and is only one example of many.

Sadly I can’t think of a way to make this end well. I think the future seems to look relatively bleak in terms of race, religion and terror. Although, it was reassuring that the majority of the facebook statuses and tweets that I read yesterday were of a similar opinion to me. That people who jump to conclusions about people because of their race are simply nothing more than racists. It is clear that the two men were sick. Why does terrorism even have to be thrown into the bag?

Advertisements

Margaret Thatcher was great.

One day was all her family asked for, one day of respect. Respect for a woman who was quite possibly the greatest Prime Minister that twentieth century Britain saw. But barely moments after news of her death reached the farthest corners of the planet was the world ablaze with abusive messages about her, her critics seemed unable to comprehend that a human being had just died.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain from the tumbledown wreck of a Great nation, the sick man of Europe, back to a dignified and respected power. In order to make a great improvement, great changes needed to be implemented. Her social revolution inspired a generation to buy their own homes and bring them onto the property market, with the help of a reduced income tax. Council houses were sold off to families to help rebuild the nation as a united front. Property ownership allowed the public to buy into the country; they were investing their money back into the economy. Taxes were lowered; trade unions reformed and government expenditure decreased to help create a new market for the people, succeeding in bringing inflation rates down.

She is often seen as the woman who threw thousands of people out of work and catapulted them into unemployment because of her severe reshuffling of industry; but the manufacturing industry was no longer a profitable division. The public adapted to these changes because they saw the necessity in the alterations. By the end of her third term as Prime Minister the quantity of people employed in the public sector was higher than it is now, with 23.1% compared to around 20% today. The reshuffling of the economy was necessary to see Britain rejuvenate, it needed modernising. Outsourcing manufacture and privatising companies was necessary for regeneration. By privatising the industrial sector shares were bought by the people of Britain and, like with the housing, they were able to buy a part of Britain. Moreover, the shares that were sold to foreign investors enabled Britain to become truly globalised. The sale of companies like BT, British Gas and railway enabled a better quality of services due to the competition that it created. Britain immersed herself with other countries and this helped to move away from the looming shadow of colonialism that still haunted British shores.

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. Thatcher’s ambition and determination to run the country like her father’s grocery store was incomparable to anything any Prime Minister had done before. Britain hadn’t seen the likes of a character as strong as her. 62% of people agree that she played an important part in the changing role of women according to a guardian poll. Regardless of her belief in feminism or not, Thatcher was a woman in power. A woman, who was able to inspire a generation as they climbed through the ranks, entered the patriarchal society and all in the hope of making life easier for Britons. She brought purpose and leadership back into politics.

It seems sad that people are only capable of remembering the bad and forgetting the good. A woman who in the words of David Cameron, didn’t just lead our country, saved it. She made huge, fundamental differences, challenging ones that did not offer a safe ride, to our country; changes which have not been reversed. People need to separate themselves from their personal animosity they have for her to appreciate her as an individual. Unfortunately, I feel that this will not be possible for many because the damage is still too fresh. In a generations time people will look back and appreciate the extent to which Thatcher really did help to put Britain back on the map.

Do not decriminalise drugs.

So I know this is a little bit different to what I normally post about, but I recently wrote this article for my Universities newspaper and I thought that I would post it on here too. A reference site for my work. If people like this then please let me know and I can also post more news articles and not just my literary reviews.

just-say-no

Let the legislation be.

12 million people in England and Wales have tried an illegal drug in their lifetime. Based on the current policy in the UK, those persons found in possession of an illegal drug are liable for prosecution but may also be offered treatment for any dependency issues they may have. This policy is working: drug rates are at their lowest since 1996. So to me, it seems absurd to decriminalise drugs. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The proposal, by activists campaigning to make drugs legal, to organise a Royal Commission seems in itself to be a waste of time and money. Theresa May has made it clear that “a royal commission is simply not necessary” as the government has “no intention of decriminalising drugs”. It would make far more sense to invest that money into further rehabilitation for drug addicts and expand the treatment programme. The purpose of the commission was to investigate the methods executed in other countries in order to tackle drug problems. Portugal has decided that possession of a small quantity of illegal drugs will no longer be deemed as a criminal offense as long as those caught in possession enter programs which will dissuade them from future usage. Similarly in the American States of Colorado and Washington cannabis has been legalised. The study would consider these new policies as well as other approaches and determine whether something similar could be implemented and be beneficial for Britain.

But why should we decriminalise drugs? If our current approach is producing the results that it set out to achieve then it would be erroneous to make changes.

Legalising drugs would prevent drug addicts from being prosecuted for doing what they enjoy doing. But this is not the entire problem. Often drugs and crime go hand in hand. The lengths to which some people go to possess drugs can include theft or burglary of family or strangers which can often leave distressing effects in its wake. That need to take more drugs can have devastating impacts on families and communities; destroying relationships and the individual’s life. This impact is often highly underestimated, with quality of life on a sharp downward curve and the drug user left in a state of incapacity. If the drugs that are able to cause so much harm to people were legalised, it would only enable those who are addicted to them to be able to acquire them more easily and potentially more frequently.

Currently, “the number of heroin and crack cocaine users in England has fallen below 300,000 for the first time.” Something is working. These statistics are also supported by the lack of recurring drug users. The focus on treatment has enabled rates to drop because the services have widened and received more funding, allowing a greater majority of people affected by drugs to be treated for their drug related issues. For every £1 taxpayers spend on drug treatment they save £2.50 on reduced crime and lower costs to the NHS, says the National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse. Local communities and families have benefited hugely because of the current approach to dealing with drugs. If they were to be decriminalised, or at least some of them, would this not pose a threat to these impressive statistics? The current policy is working, why change it?

12,320 18-24 year olds required treatment for crack or heroine in 2005/6 compared to 4,690 young people in 2011/12. If even more money was invested into this worthwhile treatment programme then these statistics would not only maintain their impressive position but potentially decrease further. Decriminalising drugs may cause a relapse in the downward curve of reoffenders and addicts, which would impose more pain onto their families and communities. Sanctioning an unhealthy lifestyle by legalising weaker drugs will not make those who are currently under the influence take lesser quantities because it will be less ‘cool’. Surely it would only make their availability increase. Decriminalisation will only result in a drug high and those once impressive statistics will be lost in the smoke.