Hashtags and Terrorism: A Story from the West

When the heart of Europe was first being hit by terrorism, people were shocked. Now, the shock is subsiding and empty promises of “we will survive” are taking its place. But we as law abiding citizens aren’t doing anything and our governments aren’t doing enough. We are only sitting there, witnessing the carnage, talking about how everything will be alright. And, if nothing changes, we shall keep saying it, and doing nothing, until there aren’t enough of us left to remember how life was before radical Islamic terrorism consumed society into submission, not enough of us left who would dare stand up and speak out, or, simply not enough of us left.

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By Georgiana Constantin l April 18, 2017

Hashtags and TerrorismSpecial forces and police deployed in London to prevent further terrorist attacks.

The recent London terrorist attack has taken many by surprise. Others, on the other hand, may have seen it, as London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan previously pointed out, as simply “part and parcel of living in a major city.”

The BBC reports “Wednesday 22 March, a man identified by police as Khalid Masood drove a car that he had hired from a depot in Birmingham over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament. One witness said he sped up, mounted the pavement, and began hitting pedestrians indiscriminately.” Apparently, after ramming several people and crashing into the railings, “Masood, armed with a knife, left his car and ran towards Parliament, where he was confronted by police.” Reportedly, the man did have a criminal past, but was not considered a risk for terrorist activities. Following his actions, at least fifty were injured in the attack and five people, including the attacker, died.

SAS troops are now reported to be permanently deployed on London streets. Meanwhile, pray for Paris, Nice, London, New York, Berlin, Milan, and, of course, the entire Middle East. Yes, praying is good. But we keep stopping there. Would it not be more effective if, instead of hashtags and sad messages, people would hold their governments accountable for the failure to protect their citizens and the disastrous strategies which might have led to an increase in terrorism? Would it not be better if, instead of following rumors and posts, people would try to get involved in fighting terrorism or do research on it to see where its causes lie and dedicate some time explaining them to the world? Would it not, in the end, be safer, if people understood the current reality with all its facts and politically incorrect consequences instead of lamenting the present, while quietly accepting the future as worse?

Some see these events as having brought people together in solidarity for the victims, as the #WeAreNotAfraid and #PrayforLondon hashtags circulated around the Internet. They are seeing this as a chance to unite in their words of solidarity and not let any hateful or angry expressions escape their Twitter or Facebook feeds. These are all good thoughts. That is, they are good as long as they do not ignore reality. If they do, then they are rather irresponsible. The reality is that Islamic terrorism is here and now and will be present for a long time in Western society. Could it be that by “praying” for London and stating that “we are not afraid” all we are really doing is accepting such situations as a certain future? I don’t mean that there should be an immediate physical reaction to these attacks but rather that perhaps a more proactive mentality is necessary instead of a resigned and lethargic one.

An article posted in the UK publication, Metro, held that those who share such positive messages should not be judged, as, even though people know this is not a solution, in a time of terror all they truly want is to make sure that “love” is the message most shared not hatred and division. “It gives others a moment to reflect as they scroll through news feeds. It is a way of showing camaraderie and letting those who wish to disturb the peace in the UK and beyond know that we are not scared, that we will carry on and that we will live our lives without fear.” These are noble thoughts. But is this a safe and secure mentality? If one does not react to danger, one learns to live with it, and, in this way, perpetuates it. The fight or flight instinct has helped humankind over millennia for a reason. It got rid of the danger. Since many would not conceive of running from their own country’s problems, it is necessary that they learn how to fight them, not accept them.

The article went on to talk about the need for optimism in this pessimistic world and how such social media messages let people know that they are not alone and that we must not let terrorists win by living in fear. Firstly, terrorists are winning simply because we refuse to see their actions for what they are, a new type of warfare. Instead of trying to figure out ways to defend ourselves, we try to wait out the battle. Secondly, the victims of such actions are alone, unless shared thoughts are followed by action, the same way everyone on Facebook and Twitter is alone. Being in front of a computer screen and sharing sympathy and thoughts can be a nice reminder that people notice your existence, but it is also a sad reminder that, having noticed it, they do not care enough to act. Moreover, facts are true whether we see them as pessimistic or optimistic. Our interpretation of facts does not make them more or less true.

A Story from the West

The situation gets more complicated when we notice that, even though the mentality of not fearing but rather accepting terrorism perpetuates itself, there is, in fact, a type of fear that is predominant in society. It is the same fear of being labeled racist brought about by what is now known as political correctness that led people in Rotherham, England to not disclose the ethnic identities of those who perpetrated egregious crimes against school children of all ages. It is the fear of not having “the right opinion,” the fear of being on “the wrong side of history,” or the fear of being called unkind, racist, and so on. In short, it is the fear of the “label” which rules our lives today.

We must all be tolerant, we are told, because that means we love our fellow man. But tolerance, as I have said before, is the opposite of love. Love is not quiet acceptance of the other with all their faults and destructive behavior. Love is trying to construct a better “other” by intervening in their lives and letting them know that they are on the wrong path. Love is risking the other’s wrath in the attempt to save them from themselves. Love is risking hate and rejection. That, along with many others of the like, is the sacrifice that love requires, a loud, reprimanding voice, not a taciturn attitude and a vacant, neutral stare. Love is not numbing oneself to the other’s presence and ignoring their existence. It is not, therefore, hate that is the opposite of love, as some might think, for hate and love make one just as present in the other’s thoughts. Tolerance, however, blinds. “Good for you!” “I’m not judging.” “It’s none of my business.” “More power to you.” These are all different ways of saying, “I don’t care” or “get your existence out of my way, I have a life to live.”

We are also taught to strive for kindness, and, many times we are even taught to ignore other character traits for this particular one. Yet, as C. S. Lewis points out “every vice leads to cruelty.” Therefore, instead of focusing on one virtue that we would like society to have, we may want to take a better look at the full spectrum of good moral behavior and try to balance out our characters, lest our pursuit of kindness leads us to cruelty. For is it not cruel for both the law abiding Muslims in the EU in general and the UK in particular and the non-Muslim population to have to be subjected to such dangers because the government’s pursuit of kindness, or “correctness,” leads it to disregard the safety of its own citizens?

Why is it not shocking when a bomb goes off in Baghdad or Mosul? It is because it has become the norm. When the heart of Europe was first being hit by terrorism, people were shocked. Now, the shock is subsiding and empty promises of “we will survive” are taking its place. But we as law abiding citizens aren’t doing anything and our governments aren’t doing enough. We are only sitting there, witnessing the carnage, talking about how everything will be alright. And, if nothing changes, we shall keep saying it, and doing nothing, until there aren’t enough of us left to remember how life was before radical Islamic terrorism consumed society into submission, not enough of us left who would dare stand up and speak out, or, simply not enough of us left.


Georgiana Constantin is a law graduate who has studied International, European and Romanian law at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest and is presently a political science doctoral candidate at the University of Bucharest. Ms. Constantin, who is based in Romania, is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the online-conservative-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

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